There was quite a flurry of activity on Facebook last week regarding a list, supposedly put together by the BBC, of “classic” books. Who truly put this list together remains a mystery because titles like the Harry Potter series were hanging out amidst Moby Dick and Jane Austen. Go figure. Anyhow, we were to put an x by the ones we read, indicate which ones we were interested in reading in the future and mark the ones we loved.
The thing that really struck me about this list, other than the fact that I hadn’t read half of them, were the comments by people commiserating on how they wasted time on certain books. Several times “The Lord of the Flies” was lambasted. I had to agree. I nearly stopped reading that book when Piggy got voted off the island in a very violent fashion.
Then I got to thinking about other books over the years that got a thumbs down from me for various reasons (poorly written, awful subject, etc). I realize that most people would give you a list of books that they *liked*, but I’m not most people.
So here we go. Please be sure to leave comments about books that you couldn’t believe you wasted time reading. It’s fun to be snarky.
A Thousand Acres – Jane Smiley
Awful. Just awful. I didn’t like any of the characters and I couldn’t believe that there was so much evil and dysfunction in one family. If you like betrayal, incest and farming all wrapped up in one depressing package then this is the book for you.
Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller
What can I say? This book glorified an affair, period. It was sappy, melodramatic and, quite frankly, nauseating. When it was published, thousands of women flocked to Madison County, Iowa to see the covered bridges in the area. I’m not sure what was sadder – this terrible book or the fact that people didn’t believe that it was fiction.
The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
Okay, I’m going to go against thousands of people by saying that I thought this book was ghastly. Please stop throwing things at your computer screen and hear me out.
Besides the fact that the characters were two dimensional and annoying, and the writing was schlocky (thank you, Ellen P for that most descriptive word) I was disgusted that people couldn’t accept that it was FICTION. My husband’s co-worker actually left her church because of this book. Adding to my frustration, I listened to it on CD. The narrator could NOT imitate a French accent and came off as Inspector Clouseau. I wanted to chuck the whole thing out the car window. Tom Hanks totally dropped a few notches after producing the movie version. Why Tom, why?
Foucalt’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco
This really wasn’t a book. It was Umberto Eco’s way of saying that he was so much smarter than the rest of the plebs reading it. Maybe there’s some MENSA member out there who loved it but I just didn’t get it at all.
Moby Dick by Herman Melville
I understand, theoretically, that this book was written on many levels. I remain on the level that feels that an entire chapter about the “whiteness of the whale” was a total waste of my precious reading time.
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
I was 17 years old when this book was forced on me by my senior English teacher. Classic my a**. It was completely depressing and left me feeling so bereft that I gave it up halfway and skimmed the Cliffs Notes. Dreadful. Why would ANYONE give this to a high school student to read? It’s like teen abuse.
Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews
Yes, I know that this is not really literature. It’s not even NORMAL. I just want to know why VC Andrews didn’t get counseling for herself after writing a book about abused children and incest. It’s also disturbing to me that her books continue to be written by a ghost writer 20+ years after her death. Please, just give it a rest.
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
I didn’t hate this book like the ones listed above. However, this author was one of the most self-absorbed people I’ve ever read about. She took an entire chapter to describe her meditation routine in India, down to the minute fact that her ear was itching at one point and she had to learn to ignore it. I was actually rooting for her ex-husband, whom (at the time she wrote the book) she was trying unsuccessfully to divorce. I hope her next one isn’t so self-important.
Well, I could go on and on, but there’s probably some unwritten blogging rule that says not to bore your audience with too many things in one post, especially if they’re negative. All better now.
Go ahead, tell me about a classic you just couldn’t abide. It’s way cheaper than counseling and you will feel free and liberated. Until the next bad book comes along.