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View Full Version : The worst book you ever read and why.


Mouse_Maven
12-01-2006, 01:44 PM
I am embarassed to say that I read Battlefield Earth by L. Ron Hubbard twice. I was at my grandparent's house for the summer; they lived in rual Louisiana. Over the weeks, I read everything in the house except this book (no idea how it got there) and The Book of Mormon.

I have also read Meg (http://www.amazon.com/Meg-Novel-Terror-Steve-Alten/dp/055357910X/sr=1-1/qid=1164998411/ref=pd_bbs_1/102-4171688-7376902?ie=UTF8&s=books) by Steve Alten. The back cover suckered me in - it sound like a good story. Awful, horrible, wretched bunch of text. I can't bring myself to call it a book.

Dung Beetle
12-01-2006, 01:50 PM
I'm always torn about this. It was either Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land, or Thomas Harris' Hannibal. I just don't grok Heinlein, so I'll guess I'll go with that one, since I actually wanted to finish Hannibal. (Until I did, and then I was pissed off for days.)

Draelin
12-01-2006, 01:51 PM
I have also read Meg (http://www.amazon.com/Meg-Novel-Terror-Steve-Alten/dp/055357910X/sr=1-1/qid=1164998411/ref=pd_bbs_1/102-4171688-7376902?ie=UTF8&s=books) by Steve Alten. The back cover suckered me in - it sound like a good story. Awful, horrible, wretched bunch of text. I can't bring myself to call it a book.
*gasp* I've read that!! I figured I was the only one. I bought it because it amused my friend Meg to see it on my bookshelf. I don't remember much of it, but I remember thinking "Whew, never reading that again."

Antinor01
12-01-2006, 01:52 PM
Geralds Game by Stephen King. It looked like it would be good, I mean the cover picture was a headboard with handcuffs attatched.

It was the MOST BORING book I've ever read. After the first 60 or so pages I flipped ahead to see if it would get better. Around the 200 page mark I found that...

The woman was still laying there handcuffed to the bed, her husband dead on the floor. Various descriptions of the wind blowing, the grass rustling, dogs barking..

Good thing it was a library book or I would have wanted my money back.

Mr. Excellent
12-01-2006, 01:53 PM
Yah, Meg was pretty bad. Nothing compared to "Atlas Shrugged", though. "Meg" was just stupid. "Atlas Shrugged" was stupid, and mean-spirited, and pretentious as hell. And it had a forty-page monologue on the evils of helping people. I read it in high school because I thought it was something educated people should read - I think it made me stupider.

AuntiePam
12-01-2006, 01:54 PM
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova -- a rambling mess, unbelievable coincidences, repetitive, trite dialogue, etc. She made Dracula boring. Neat trick.

DeVena
12-01-2006, 01:59 PM
When I was twelve, I was trapped in an RV went on vacation with my parents and my 3 siblings. For a month. The only thing to read was a big box of romance novels and used books. The worst of the lot was Unknown but Known by Arthur Ford, the "medium". Even at 12 I could tell it was nothing but a bunch of hooey. And badly written hooey at that!

Draelin
12-01-2006, 02:00 PM
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova -- a rambling mess, unbelievable coincidences, repetitive, trite dialogue, etc. She made Dracula boring. Neat trick.
Really? Note to self: Just take it out of the To-Be-Read pile and put it right into the Used-Bookstore-Fodder pile. Tell Mom you read it so she doesn't feel bad.

Mouse_Maven
12-01-2006, 02:03 PM
*gasp* I've read that!! I figured I was the only one. I bought it because it amused my friend Meg to see it on my bookshelf. I don't remember much of it, but I remember thinking "Whew, never reading that again."

When looking it up for the link, I was shocked to see that there were sequeals! What god or demon let this guy continue the story? ::shudder::

Odesio
12-01-2006, 02:08 PM
A book titled "A Matter of Time" by, well, I can't remember. It was a bout time travel and from the way it read I suspected the author wrote each chapter and put them in random order before publication. It remains the only book I ever failed to complete once I started.

Marc

ivylass
12-01-2006, 02:08 PM
I must say, I have no patience for bad books. I have no compunction tossing a book aside half-read if it fails to enthrall me.

Life's too short.

amarinth
12-01-2006, 02:15 PM
I spent some time in the book club from hell. Where the members had absolutely no taste in books, would tend to pick books out based on the length (and they always went for the shortest thing possible), and then most didn't bother to read the nightmare they foisted on the group anyway.

Still, the worst book out of a large collection of awful books was "Autumn Leaves" by Victor McGlothin. Here's the first page, from Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/031231969X/ref=sib_fs_bod/103-7893911-8369425?ie=UTF8&p=S00C&checkSum=58GqUE8cwKFSLVKmKZ%2FtyBONb4X5CjEmPm%2Bum%2FaKsx4%3D#reader-link). Sadly, that's some of the better writing in the book.

It's worse than "Left Behind," which I also had the misfortune to read.

I have The Historian waiting for me at the library.... now what do I do?

Shoeless
12-01-2006, 02:16 PM
"The Last of the Mohicans". One of those books that I thought I should read just because it was a classic. When the cashier at Borders told me it was the worst book she had ever read, I should have listened to her and told her to void the sale right then. The writing is just... unreadable. I would have to read sentences two or three times just to figure out the sentence structure. Probably one of the few times where the movie is actually better than the book.

divemaster
12-01-2006, 02:58 PM
I've got a few bad books under my belt, but hands down the worst was The Celestine Prophesy.

divemaster
12-01-2006, 03:06 PM
Oh, I forgot the "why" part of the OP.

The book was so ridiculous, yet took itself so seriously. And then there was some sort of form at the end where you could send the author $25 bucks or something that would enable you access to more of his "insights."

A colleague of mine had it with her on a research trip we were on and she was laughing at how bad it was. I read it on a lark, and we basically MST3K'd it for a couple of days. ("Oh, I'm vibrating into another plane!").

Pábitel
12-01-2006, 03:28 PM
The Quest for the Faradawn (Hardcover) by Richard Ford

Wince worthy. One of the only books I have ever just gotten rid of. I don't remember if I actually threw it away or if I traded it in at the used book store.

<shudder> Thanks for reminding me. Now I have to bang my head against the wall until I forget about it again.

RealityChuck
12-01-2006, 03:30 PM
The Ultimatum to Mankind (http://www.alibris.com/search/search.cfm?qwork=6887756&matches=3&qsort=r) by Zeev Dickman. The most excruciating hundred pages I've ever read. This was self-published as porported "science fiction" "story" where an alien gave an ultimatum to mankind.

Or, rather, to one person -- a barely disguised duplicate of the author. Among the many stupidities:

1. Humans have been going downhill since the agricultural revolution.
2. The early pre-agricultural communities were places of peace who didn't kill each other.
3. The early pre-agricultural communities left all their handicapped and elderly out to die.
4. The alien was really Moses! (and I would have guessed Jesus).
5. The ten commandments were really 14.
6. We left out the important ones, too!
7. The alien has no rectum. The hero then says, "who needs an ass when you speak that way?" which describes the alien better than the author thinks.
8. The protagonist questions the alien, carefully wording his questions so they sound like a midterm exam.
9. Humans try to dominate others.
10. The ultimatum: this must stop!
11. The alien's plan: kill 90% of all humans (nice to know the advanced aliens are so peaceful). Put the rest in communities of 188 people each.
12. It's up to the hero to put this into effect.
13. . . . with no help from the alien. Not even anything to prove the alien even exists.
14. The alien leaves, and the hero vows to fulfill his plan.

The language is stilted and boring, and we go through 80 pages of dull exposition (repeating each point at least three times) before we even get to the ultimatum.

It was clearly a self published book. I wouldn't have read it, except that I volunteered to review it for Tangent. I managed to write a review that didn't have a single conceivable positive quote, even out of context.

gigi
12-01-2006, 03:34 PM
Besides the trashy fiction I read from time to time, and sticking to "real" literature, I would have to say Frankenstein. Of course the story was fun but it bugged me that it was told from a variety of perspectives and they all had the same tone.

The Chao Goes Mu
12-01-2006, 03:41 PM
Off the top of my head I recalling reading a Sci-Fi book as a child called "Space God" I was (am) such an avid reader I will usually read through anything, clinging to the hope that it will improve. I barely made it through 2 chapters. Complete trash. I don't even know who's shrivled brain shat that tripe out.

Pábitel
12-01-2006, 03:41 PM
The Quest for the Faradawn by Richard FordOops, I forget the why as well.

The shame about this book is that it is actually pretty well written. The story however comes across like it was written by an emo boy immediately after sitting through a PETA lecture. It starts out OK and if the author had taken the "innocent teaches the wise" route then it may have ended well. Instead the innocent presses the reset button on reality and makes the whole world all shiny and bright again. Then right at the end, right when you think you have made it through the worst, it is revealed that the old narrator of the story is in fact the little innocent all growed up and he is telling his story as a cautionary tale to the next generation. :smack:

Kythereia
12-01-2006, 03:45 PM
A Harlequin romance novel that shall go mercifully unnamed.

Cardinal
12-01-2006, 03:53 PM
I've got a few bad books under my belt, but hands down the worst was The Celestine Prophesy.That might be the worst book I ever finished. Jonathon Livingston Seagull might have been more empty headed, though. It's been too long for me to remember which was worse.

Count Blucher
12-01-2006, 03:55 PM
"Fools Die" by Mario Puzo. I started it my freshman year in college, but never finished it. I used to think of it as my favorite unfinished novel. Indeed, half-way through, it is full of posibilites and wonder.

A few years ago, I saw it on my shelf and I picked it up, forcing myself to read the rest of it. Dear God, the second half was Shyte! It possibly had the worst ending of any book I'd ever read...and I thought back with dread to all thosee knowing smiles of people to whom I'd told it was my 'most favorite unfinished novel'. *shudder*

Sage Rat
12-01-2006, 03:57 PM
A book titled "A Matter of Time" by, well, I can't remember. [...] It remains the only book I ever failed to complete once I started.
Well you know it was just a ma....

Never mind.

Sonia Montdore
12-01-2006, 03:59 PM
"The Last of the Mohicans". One of those books that I thought I should read just because it was a classic. When the cashier at Borders told me it was the worst book she had ever read, I should have listened to her and told her to void the sale right then. The writing is just... unreadable. I would have to read sentences two or three times just to figure out the sentence structure. Probably one of the few times where the movie is actually better than the book.

Shoeless, you'd probably enjoy Mark Twain's essay, "Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses." You can find it at: http://users.telerama.com/~joseph/cooper/cooper.html

TwoTrouts
12-01-2006, 04:08 PM
I knew someone who tried his hand at writing. The result was Sarbola, a story about an embittered microbiology grad student suffering under the tutelage (and whips) of a nasty, female researcher. He decides to get back at all academia by releasing a virus that combines the properties of ebola and SARS. He sent me a copy to review. I never wrote back. It was published by one of those self-publishing houses. I like this review (http://www.ralphmag.org/CP/sarbola.html).

Rodgers01
12-01-2006, 04:10 PM
Really? Note to self: Just take it out of the To-Be-Read pile and put it right into the Used-Bookstore-Fodder pile. Tell Mom you read it so she doesn't feel bad.I have The Historian waiting for me at the library.... now what do I do?Don't be so swayed by one bad review. The book has 3.5 stars at Amazon.com -- not superb, but quite a few people seem to like it.

The worst book I've ever read might be Son of Rosemary (http://www.amazon.com/Son-Rosemary-Sequel-Rosemarys-Baby/dp/0525943749/sr=1-1/qid=1165007170/ref=pd_bbs_1/102-3386713-1369704?ie=UTF8&s=books) sequel to Rosemary's Baby. I loved the first book (and the Polanski movie), but the second one was horrible, moronic, and infuriating. I couldn't believe the same guy wrote both of them. Son of Rosemary was only the second book Levin had written since the '70s; maybe he's lost his touch. :(

SurrenderDorothy
12-01-2006, 04:10 PM
I also have no patience for bad books and only have qualms about abandoning them a quarter of the way through if someone recommended them.

That said, I hated The Scarlet Letter. It's not that I didn't get it. I just hated it. If I had a time machine, I'd go back and advise Nathaniel Hawthorne to become like a blacksmith or a doctor or ANYTHING but a writer.

I also hated Pride and Prejudice. I'm sure it's actually very good compared to other books with similar subjects, but it bored me to tears. Okay, you're all geting married and you're all obsessed with romance. Can't we have a plane crash or murder or a hostage situation or a horse or a dog or a huge betrayal resulting in war or death or someone losing their mind or even... vampires or something! anything! just do something interesting to make me hate you slightly less!


Among the worst books i've abandoned midway:

Little Girl Blue (a mystery book by someone whose name I can't remember. It read like a bad fanfic- "her fiery-red hair lay in ripples down her slender back. Her sparkling green eyes scanned the crime scene, the walls splashed with crimson blood" (not an actual quote) I only got like three pages into this one before I decided I'd rather read the sort-of-boring backup book I had.

A is for Alibi: I tried. I REALLY tried. I got about 3/4 of the way through this godawful book and realized that, first of all, I already knew who the killer was. Not because it was a well-crafted mystery with a web of clues pointing to him, but because from the second he was introduced it was all about how sexy and attractive he was and how much we were supposed to like him. And second of all, 3/4 of the way into the book, it still sucked. Third of all, we knew barely anything more about the actual crime than we knew at the beginning.

woodstockbirdybird
12-01-2006, 04:25 PM
Yah, Meg was pretty bad. Nothing compared to "Atlas Shrugged", though. "Meg" was just stupid. "Atlas Shrugged" was stupid, and mean-spirited, and pretentious as hell. And it had a forty-page monologue on the evils of helping people. I read it in high school because I thought it was something educated people should read - I think it made me stupider.


Yep, Atlas Shrugged was the worst book I read, too (or maybe it was The Fountainhead - I read them both when I was 15 [21 years ago], which is, I imagine, the age Rand's books are aimed at - I only read them both because I thought they were Important Works). Easily the worst writer in history ever to be considered of literary merit.

Caprese
12-01-2006, 04:32 PM
The Da Vinci Code It was sort of like a comic book for little kids, but without the awesome illustrations.

The Scarlet Letter I know literature could be a lot wordier back then, but Hawthorne's prose was so dry and stilted.

The Red Tent Same as The Da Vinci Code; also, it really bothered me the way all the men were depicted so negatively.

Don Draper
12-01-2006, 04:35 PM
I've stooped to reading a few 'Star Trek' novels, which probably count as the worst. And various & sundry paperback novels that I managed to acquire. But most of them were mercifully forgettable.

The worst book I've read recently was London Fields - a bombastic, ridiculous, pedantic, misogynistic, narcissistic slog. The mean-spirited and not-all-that-original ramblings of a british twit who thinks that being a british twit makes him a genius.

pravnik
12-01-2006, 04:37 PM
Every year my local public library has a big sale of books it can no longer use, $5 for a paper grocery bag full. I've found a few treasures, but more than a few stinkers as well. Just off the top of my head, two of the worst offenders were the novelization of "Goin' Coconuts," the 1978 Donnie and Marie movie, and the "Growing Pains" era biography of Kirk Cameron. Did you know he was named after Captain Kirk of the popular television program "Star Trek?" It's true! And believe it or not...Kirk has never tasted chocolate!

Sefton
12-01-2006, 04:41 PM
Few people know this, but William Goldman wrote a sequel to his novel Marathon Man called Brothers. Awful. I think his motivation was to show the reader what it felt like to be cruelly tortured. And this guy wrote The Princess Bride!

Hannibal sucked pretty bad, too. I bought it the first day it came out, but there's no way I'm reading the new one.

OneCentStamp
12-01-2006, 04:54 PM
Geralds Game by Stephen King. It looked like it would be good, I mean the cover picture was a headboard with handcuffs attatched.

It was the MOST BORING book I've ever read. After the first 60 or so pages I flipped ahead to see if it would get better. Around the 200 page mark I found that...
I came into this thread to mention this book, among others. I got my copy at a thrift store for 75 cents and ended up re-donating it to them a week later. It was clearly written during King's "I can write whatever the hell I want and people will buy it. Also I'm stoned out of my gourd." phase.

The people who mentioned The Da Vinci Code have clearly never read Brown's earlier novel, Digital Fortress, which is about 15 times stupider, if you can fathom that.

Maybe not the worst worst, but horribly difficult to read because they were so overrated:
The Great Gatsby
The Catcher in the Rye
the last three Patricia Cornwells I read

CalMeacham
12-01-2006, 04:55 PM
The worst I've read is Galaxy 666, with its interminable thesaurus runs. t's by Pel Torro, one of the many pen names of author Lionel Fanthorpe. All of his books are bad, I understand. Aside from excerpts, I've only read this one, which seems to have a special reputation for awfulness. It's fun to read aloud and try not to crack up. As is;


The Eye of Argon, Jim Theis' legendarily bad story, which now qualifies for this thread, as it has been published as a book:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Eye_of_Argon



The Null-Frequency Impulser by James Nelson Coleman. Bad Sci Fi. Fanthorpe was admittedly being paid by the word, and Theis was an amateur, but Coleman has no excuse for writing a book this bad.

Cataclysm[ by Don Pendleton. I know he wrote the Mack Bolan series, but even that can't prepare you for the awfulness of Cataclysm. Again, he's a professional - he ain't got no excuse.

Dung Beetle
12-01-2006, 04:55 PM
Geralds Game by Stephen King. It looked like it would be good, I mean the cover picture was a headboard with handcuffs attatched.


I'm a fan of Mr. King, but as he goes on cranking stuff out, the level of "crap" is growing, while the level of "gold" remains the same. I don't think new readers of King should go plunging in without advice and recommendations from those of us who have already suffered through books like "Dreamcatcher". If I can take a bad-book-bullet for someone else, at least my suffering will not have been in vain!

mlerose
12-01-2006, 05:04 PM
I've read a lot of awful stuff in my time, but the worst book is still one I was forced to read in 8th grade - The Red Pony by John Steinbeck.

Utter loathing. Hate. The whole plot ends in the first chapter and the rest is scenery. Words cannot express how terrible I found this book to be. And it's considered literature!

Feh.

Freddy the Pig
12-01-2006, 05:06 PM
Does anyone read Nelson Algren? I tried to read The Man with the Golden Arm, because growing up in Chicago you hear about how great Algren was, and I like a certain amount of gritty realism.

But good Lord. It wasn't enough for people to be drunk, they had to be drooling from bleeding gums and vomiting on the bar. It wasn't enough for a place to be dirty, it had to reek of feces and dead cockroaches. I couldn't choke down more than about 50 pages.

AuntiePam
12-01-2006, 05:08 PM
I have The Historian waiting for me at the library.... now what do I do?

Exchange it for a good vampire story -- Fevre Dream by George R. R. Martin. Or if you wanted to read something with people traveling the world while investigating a possible myth, ask for Gospel by Wilton Barnhardt.

CalMeacham
12-01-2006, 05:21 PM
Oh, yeah -- why I read them.


The first two are entertainingly bad, and worth reading for that reason.


The latter two I was challenged to read, so I took up the challenge.




As for classics that I hate -- anything by Henry James . Turn of the Screw, The Beast in the Jungle


Jane Austen. I hated Pride and Prejudice


Tolstoy's The Death of Ivan Ilyich. I liked Tolstoy's other works that I've read (especially War and Peace), but TDoII is about "someone who's dying, only not fast enough". (to steal a great Dave Barry line about something else)

SkipMagic
12-01-2006, 05:53 PM
Few people know this, but William Goldman wrote a sequel to his novel Marathon Man called Brothers. Awful. I think his motivation was to show the reader what it felt like to be cruelly tortured. And this guy wrote The Princess Bride!
His Heat wasn't much better than Brothers, but I admit that I enjoy his writing style so much that, even if the plot suffers, his books still amuse me.

Forrest Gump was the worst book I've ever read because the author simply can't write. How they made a mildly entertaining movie out of it, I dunno. I didn't mind The Fountainhead so much, but Atlas Shrugged bored me to tears with the preaching; Stranger in a Strange Land had the same effect for the same reason.

jsgoddess
12-01-2006, 06:00 PM
Easy. Cait London's When Night Falls.

To quote myself (from a review I wrote):

London's writing is simply bad. She randomly introduces plot points after the fact, presenting the reader with a mish-mash of jumbled events. She gives huge detail on minor happenings, and leaves things like being shot at to be mentioned in passing by minor characters weeks after they occur. Characters act like nothing is wrong, then suffer breakdowns, then act like nothing is wrong, then suffer breakdowns. They suffer the same crises over and over, repeatedly resolved. Characters get called by the wrong name, comb the wrong color hair, and apparently switch jobs at will.

This goes on for 400 pages.

And I read it.

Most of the problems in the book, other than the stupefying boredom, could have been fixed or improved by someone simply reading it. Any reader would have been able to say that the plotting is incoherent, the dialogue stilted, the characters interchangeable, and the names migratory. Even the front cover shows a house on a lake when the book is set in the dry plains of Oklahoma.

St_Ides
12-01-2006, 06:21 PM
The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie.

I read it in high-school. It was impossible to follow. I think I made it about half way through. The part that really turned me off was the description of one of the characters transforming in to a goat with an exceptionally large phallus (described in detail.)

Why this book would cause a fatwa and an uproar, I'll never know.... Because the whole thing was completely and utterly nonsensical.

Boulter's Canary
12-01-2006, 07:34 PM
Fish in a barrel, I know, but it's got to be 'Vale of the Vole' by Piers Anthony.

Why? - It's Piers Anthony. It's Xanth - 'nuff said. I defenestrated it somewhere around chapter five.

John DiFool
12-01-2006, 07:37 PM
The Last Mammoth. Not only was the dialogue (setting prehistoric North America)
riddled with contemporary (late 20th century) slang, but most of the plot involved the young
hero and heroine screwing like rabbits. You'd think the second half of the book would involve
a hunt/search for the last mammoth, right? Nope-just some bland hand-waving about how
killing all the mammoths would be necessary for modern civilization to arise. Huh?

Just Some Guy
12-01-2006, 07:46 PM
When I was young and had not yet developed taste and good judgment in selecting reading material I read a lot of licensed novels and by far the worst of those were the Dungeons and Dragons novels. R.A. Salvadore and Ed Greenwood, I want that time back!

Linty Fresh
12-01-2006, 07:53 PM
The Things That Matter Most: In the mid-90's, I went through a Dittohead phase, which I'm not proud of at this late date. Still, not even the worst shit spewed by Rush Limbaugh could match Cal Thomas's drivel. In this commentary on our society, Cal blasted the Enlightenment for taking us further away from God and called for censorship of TV and movies for the sake of this fine nation (This was all irony-free, by the way. Cal was being totally serious.). His photograph is on the cover, and he even looks like an asshole. He's got the same smug look as a high school principal I used to have who gave extra detention to the popular, good-looking kids. To this day, I'm pissed off at myself for actually paying money for this book.

Advanced Sex Tips for Girls: I hate to say it, but Cynthia Heimel has lost her ever-luvin' mind. She used to be the author I would read when I was feeling confused in a relationship and wanted some wisdom. She was kind of wild and wooly even back then, kind of a ranter, but damn, she could give good advice, and you always had the feeling that she would do her damndest to help you through your troubles while making you laugh all the while.

Not anymore. She's turned bitter and weird in her dotage, and her advice reads like she wrote it after a nice soothing cup of Chamomile tea and Benzedrine. I'm not really mad at the book as much as I'm sad for Cynthia.

Stranger On A Train
12-01-2006, 08:09 PM
Y"Atlas Shrugged" was stupid, and mean-spirited, and pretentious as hell. And it had a forty-page monologue on the evils of helping people. I read it in high school because I thought it was something educated people should read - I think it made me stupider.Ditto, although I think Clive Cussler might edge her out on actual negation of literary talent. Like ivylass, I no longer tolerate books that I can't stand after the first fifty pages or so; a later Robert Ludlum work (I think it was called Apocalypse Watch) once got tossed into the fireplace for being hideously unreadable. Tom Clancy (never a master literary writer to begin with, but at least at the top of the heap with technoporn) tanked pretty hard, too, in the mid-Nineties. I was glad when the dog tore up Rainbow Six.

Stranger

Eliahna
12-01-2006, 08:51 PM
Misselthwaite by Susan Moody. Looks like it's also published under the name Return To The Secret Garden (http://www.amazon.com/Return-Secret-Garden-Susan-Moody/dp/0451192281/ref=dp_return_1/102-3336795-1546562?ie=UTF8&n=283155&s=books).

As the second title indicates, it's a sequel to Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden. It's not a children's book and it follows the characters in adulthood. Essentially, Moody ruined the beauty and joy of the original story and utterly changed the personalities of the lead characters. It is the worst sequel to a classic book that I've ever read - and I've read Alexandria Ripley's Scarlett. I was so disgusted by the book that I threw it in the garbage rather than give it away or donate it, because I didn't think anyone else, ever, for any reason should be subjected to that trash. Susan Moody should be tried for crimes against the written word.

jacob wrestling
12-01-2006, 09:13 PM
The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger. I checked it out from the library one summer in a misguided attempt at finding some good "beach reads" for vacation. Horribly plotted, terribly written, soul-destroying, 350 page-long, name-dropping monstrosity.

I also loathe Great Expectations , but I can't tell if that's because I'm a boneheaded ninny or Dickens is.

Qadgop the Mercotan
12-01-2006, 09:15 PM
Oh, so many to choose from!

The one that stands out in my mind at the moment was Steppe by that hack writer, Piers Anthony. Worse than his bad Xanth stuff, IMHO!

Cheez_Whia
12-01-2006, 09:20 PM
The Moonstone, for a Lit class. I kept waiting for this most marvelous book to get good. It never did. I did like the character who used Robinson Crusoe like a Bible, though.

HazelNutCoffee
12-01-2006, 09:23 PM
FWIW, I found The Historian readable. Not my favorite book, but far from the worst.

In terms of serious books, Fox Girl by Nora Okja Keller has to be the worst book I've read. I'm thinking of writing part of my thesis on it because the stuff I have to say about that book could easily fill 20 pages. It's about a Korean girl growing up post-Korea War and how circumstances force her into a life of prostitution. The way the author shamelessly uses snippets of Korean language and culture to make the book seem exotic and "Asian" makes me want to slap her - more so because she doesn't even get it right. Her exploitation of a culture she knows squat about is appalling and worse than Amy Tan.

And don't even get me started on The Red Queen.

Morbo
12-01-2006, 09:46 PM
Just when I thought I could never top Jonathan Livingston Seagull, lo and behold I read the book my wife just finished when we were on vacation.

A Million Little Pieces. She told me it was great. She deliberately lied to fuck with me. (Kinda like "Taste this - it's delicious!")

Who cares if James Frey was telling the truth or not - the real truth is that it was effin' horrible self-flagellatory pap.

I want to take this book
I want to take this book and grab scissors
I want to use the scissors to cut the book
Cut the book cut the book
Cut the book into little piles of paper bits
Piles of paper bits piles of paper bits piles of paper bits
Bits bits bits bits bits bits bits bits bits
Where's my lighter
::Foomp::

Malienation
12-01-2006, 10:07 PM
Well, this doesn't really count since I didn't finish the book, but I tried reading Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose. Truly, truly painful; somehow, I managed to slog through about 5 pages before I realized that I was in for another 600 pages of the same inpenetrable prose. I hate giving up on books, feeling that one should stay to the bitter end, but I have limits. Eco found mine.

Rysdad
12-01-2006, 10:11 PM
I also loathe Great Expectations , but I can't tell if that's because I'm a boneheaded ninny or Dickens is.

Oh, God, you said the words! Never, ever say those words! Those are bad, bad, naughty-icky words!

I had to read that despicable piece of ultraboring bilge in high school. I've already told my son that, if GE is ever required reading, he has my blessing to skip the rest of that class. I can only hope that someone does a re-write of it where Pip grows up, kicks his sister's ass, and gets Miss Havisham placed in a nice, secure nursing home.

Then, the same teacher that assigned GE followed it up with A Separate Peace..

Synopsis: Finny was an insecure, adddlepated punk, and he dies.

:rolleyes:

I can't for the life of me understand why either of those lousy wastes of time were ever described as "classics." I'd rather read the phone book.

RikWriter
12-01-2006, 10:58 PM
Add me to the list of those who think Great Expectations is a loathesome piece of quasi-literary shit. What a pointless waste of my time. I hated that book so badly, I got the only D of my time in high school rather than re-read and study it for the Literature test I had on it.
As for non-"classical" novels, I would have to go with some really really bad "SF" called Galactic MI. Basically, someone took a run-of-the-mill military thriller and transported it to another planet, without increasing the technology level or changing the names, and made a SERIES of books like that. And not only was the premise lame, the books were HORRIBLY written. Seriously, they read like crap I wrote when I was 14 years old.

Jophiel
12-01-2006, 11:06 PM
[b]Firefly[/i] by Piers Anthony. It was about a.. um.. amobea that made people think about sex and then die and stuff. And then the amobea would eat them. Or something like that. Sweey mercy, it was horrible reading.

And I know about his Xanth novels and stuff but I'll give those a pass because I was in junior high when I started and, at the time, they were fun enough. But this was supposedly an "adult horror" story and it just read like pure shit. Oh, and all the skeevy innuendo of the Xanth books comes out unleashed in this one. I wanted to take a shower afterwards.

Jophiel
12-01-2006, 11:12 PM
Someday I'll learn to preview here on the SDMB. On the other forum I'm most active on, the preview function has been busted for years so I never think about it.

BrainGlutton
12-01-2006, 11:14 PM
Worst book? The Bible. Why? Because it's important.

jackelope
12-01-2006, 11:52 PM
Color of Light (http://www.amazon.com/Color-Light-William-Goldman/dp/0517676818) by William Goldman. This came highly recommended, but I just hated every page of it. Every "dramatic plot twist," including the GREAT BIG REVELATION clumsily delivered with the last line of the last page, was stupidly obvious to me several chapters ahead of time.

The protagonist, Chub (yes, "Chub"), would be in the middle of some stupid crisis moaning, "Oh, who could be anonymously torturing me this way?" and I'd be almost shouting out loud, "It was THE BUTLER, you moron!" Sure enough, thirty idiotic pages later it would turn out to be the butler.

Every time he got bored or ran out of stuff to ponder, either another pseudo-crisis would start or a new character would conveniently pop up who had been incredibly important in Chub's past, even though we'd never heard of this person before.

Hated hated HATED this book. I only finished it to avoid disappointing the person who recommended it to me.

Second place is a tie between everything I ever read by Ayn Rand.

John DiFool
12-01-2006, 11:58 PM
Add me to the list of those who think Great Expectations is a loathesome piece of quasi-literary shit. What a pointless waste of my time. I hated that book so badly, I got the only D of my time in high school rather than re-read and study it for the Literature test I had on it.

I faked myself through that one and never read it. The teacher was a nice guy
actually, but all I did on the tests was parrot back the essence of his lectures (and
I DID grasp the themes so I was able to put some of my own analysis in there too).

John DiFool
12-02-2006, 12:00 AM
Worst in comparison to what came before: the final book of the Dark Tower series.
What started out intriguing and imaginative became rote and hopelessly predictable at the
end. Man that was disappointing...

asterion
12-02-2006, 12:13 AM
Well, this doesn't really count since I didn't finish the book, but I tried reading Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose. Truly, truly painful; somehow, I managed to slog through about 5 pages before I realized that I was in for another 600 pages of the same inpenetrable prose. I hate giving up on books, feeling that one should stay to the bitter end, but I have limits. Eco found mine.I had to watch the movie for a class in college. 600 pages? Man, I'm glad I didn't have to read the book, because I could barely stand the movie.

I had to read that despicable piece of ultraboring bilge in high school. I've already told my son that, if GE is ever required reading, he has my blessing to skip the rest of that class. I can only hope that someone does a re-write of it where Pip grows up, kicks his sister's ass, and gets Miss Havisham placed in a nice, secure nursing home.I figure I learned all I need to know about Great Expectations watching the South Park episode "Pip (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pip_%28South_Park_episode%29)". The book would also have been much improved with this bit of plotline: "Miss Havisham explains why she has her daughter Estella break hearts. Miss Havisham will use the tears from the men with broken hearts to power her Genesis Device, allowing the old woman to become young again and put herself in Estella's body, and then she will continue breaking men's hearts for another generation. She then uses her robot monkeys to attack Pip."

As for awful books I've read, I generally manage to avoid them in my reading for pleasure. Most would be books I had to read for school, with works like A Seperate Peace, Tess of the Duerbervilles (my brother and I, who don't agree on much about literature, both agree that we hate Hardy, as he got stuck having to read Jude the Obscure), and several other books all vying for first place. I've ranted before about Dark Tower V; in the time it takes to read it, you could watch Seven Samurai, The Magnificent Seven, and A Bug's Life and get pretty much exactly the same plot.

Hmm....I'm not sure I can come up with a worst book ever, but let me throw in either Stranger in a Stange Land or Number of the Beast. Stranger in a Strange Land isn't very shocking when you first read it in the late 1990s and Number of the Beast just plain sucks. Maybe I could throw The Cat Who Walked Through Walls in there as well. Wow, I've read a lot of Heinlein and could easily name half-a-dozen books I either didn't like or hated.

Rodgers01
12-02-2006, 12:17 AM
I had to read that despicable piece of ultraboring bilge in high school. I've already told my son that, if GE is ever required reading, he has my blessing to skip the rest of that class. I can only hope that someone does a re-write of it where Pip grows up, kicks his sister's ass, and gets Miss Havisham placed in a nice, secure nursing home.You think that's bad? I read Great Expectations in 10th grade, moved to a new high school that summer, and had to read the damn thing again in 11th! :D Granted, I don't count it among the very worst books I've ever read, but it was boring enough the first time I read it. To have to read it a second time... :mad:

And speaking of horrible books you're assigned to read in high school, count me among the Scarlett Letter haters.

OneCentStamp
12-02-2006, 12:25 AM
Worst in comparison to what came before: the final book of the Dark Tower series.
What started out intriguing and imaginative became rote and hopelessly predictable at the
end. Man that was disappointing...
I'll see this, and raise you a Chapterhouse: Dune. :mad: :D

OneCentStamp
12-02-2006, 12:27 AM
By the way, everyone, you realize that we're only even having a discussion here because nobody on the SDMB has actually read Mission Earth (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mission_earth), right? :p

AHunter3
12-02-2006, 12:32 AM
No contest. Harlan Ellison, Memos from Purgatory.



Umm, well, they were real tough street hoods. I was in, ya know, serious mortal danger. I had to establish street cred. They dragged out one of their sexy gun molls, ya know, hard-bitten 'bitch dames'. And she looked at me with a gang challenge. And I knew my credibilty and manhood and survival in front of those warriors of the asphalt was at stake, right then and there. I had to do it. For the sake of the glorious Totally Authentic, I've Been There BOOK I was writing. Ahem. Yes, folks, I "did her". I, umm, "fucked the bitch", as the spoken currency, the argot, would have it. All in the name of Research. I had to Do Myself Proud, I was being evaluated. When the Deed was Done, they "slapped" me what is known as "high fives". Take note. I am way cool. I "get it". I, umm, blend right in. But I'm telling you, it was a scary moment, I was right there on the edge. But I am way cool. I "fucked" a "chick". You have to be ready for anything if you're going to do this kind of thing, and if you can't handle the Nitty Gritty, umm, then don't go there. It's not for everyone. Not everyone could handle having to have sex with a 14 year old girl to avoid being perceived as a total schmuck by a bunch of 17 year old urban "toughs". But I did and I am here to tell you the tale.

Rysdad
12-02-2006, 12:44 AM
You think that's bad? I read Great Expectations in 10th grade, moved to a new high school that summer, and had to read the damn thing again in 11th!

Nope. You didn't. Impossible. I ain't havin' it. Talk to the hand.

Wait, I get it. You're Kenny!

HazelNutCoffee
12-02-2006, 12:52 AM
No contest. Harlan Ellison, Memos from Purgatory.

This reminds me of another piece of literary crap I had to read - Tom Jones. And that reminds me of Pamela. God, 18th-century novels in general make me want to scratch my eyes out. Although to be fair, they fall into the "novels I appreciate for their literary/historical significance but that I personally loathe" category.

Scotticher
12-02-2006, 12:54 AM
Snow Falling on Cedars

This book got all kinds of raves. It won awards. It was set in the area of the country where I live, always a draw.

My office assistant had the book. I mentioned that I was going to buy it and she said that she had bought it and would be happy to give it to me. Because she was going to bury it in the backyard anyway.

Now, I am a fast reader. I seldom don't finish a book, mostly because even if the writing is bad? I want to know how it turns out. I ZIP through books. So even if they aren't all that good, it isn't as though I have to spend all that much time to get through them. I read fast, and so.....I seldom get all frustrated with books.

But....this book drove me NUTS! It is the slowest moving book I have ever read.. It had all kinds of wonderful visual images of the PNW, and that is great. BUT....the "story" was so buried in there, and so slow...that I threw it across the room at least once. NOT something I can ever remember doing ever before.

Truth is, I HATED that book. I don't think I have ever hated a book before, but I hated THAT one. And I finished it, too. Just because I thought I should. And then I tried to give it BACK to my OA. She refused to take it back.

Which should tell you something.

Kat
12-02-2006, 02:46 AM
This is my story of the unfinished book.

I can read anything. I can read Harlequin romances all the way through. I can read Xanth books without cringing. I read cereal boxes or canned goods labels if there's nothing else within reach.

I once read a book named The Unlikely Ones by someone whose name I can't remember and refuse to look up. I read all the way through to the end of the 2nd to the last chapter. It was boring as Hell, but I made it that far. Then, I put the book down and never touched it again. It's probably still sitting in my room at my mother's house. The book was so boring, and the characters were so non-likable (not unlikable, I didn't dislike any of them, but I also didn't like any of them, I didn't give a damn about them one way or the other--at least if I hate or even just dislike a character, I've got some kind of emotional investment) that even after slogging almost to the end, I didn't care enough to even read that little bit more to find out if they finished their quest successfully. It just wasn't worth that tiny bit of effort.

SurrenderDorothy
12-02-2006, 03:42 AM
I also loathe Great Expectations , but I can't tell if that's because I'm a boneheaded ninny or Dickens is.

OH GOD I had actually blocked that book from my memory. I think that surpasses both The Scarlet Letter and Pride and Prejudice for my least favorite book I read in school.

You think that's bad? I read Great Expectations in 10th grade, moved to a new high school that summer, and had to read the damn thing again in 11th!

me too! except it was in grade 8 and grade 9. Grade 8, we didn't spend much time on it, but grade 9... I don't even remember what else we read that semester. And, to be honest, I only remember bits and pieces of Great Expectations. (Miss Havisham and her wedding dress, Estella being a crazy man-hater, Pip being really poor and some random guy giving him a bunch of money... there was a fire somewhere in there too)

All I really remember is that, before I had quite gotten it into my head that my idea of fun was (and apparently still is) sort of immature. And after we read the book, we got to have a tea party in class. Extra points for participation. Which sounded WAY FUN to me (still does.) so I wore my Miss Havisham dress (which is just an old, long, slightly poofy greyish dress) and brought cucumber sandwiches. I won't be able to forget that at least until I graduate because I was the only one who came dressed up and everyone (well, the majority of everyone. including my teacher, who was a real jerk. And not including my good friend who also thought tea parties were fun but didn't have a dress. And who, apparently, gave everyone who showed up the same grade) made fun of me. Some of the boys still call me Miss Havisham.


Great Expectations is traumatic!

Marley23
12-02-2006, 04:21 AM
Atlanta Nights. It was designed to be the worst book ever written, and it is hilariously successful. Maybe it shouldn't count, since it's a parody, but since RealityChuck posted here...

I'm tempted to re-nominate The Da Vinci Code, but at least that thing had flow - unlike Washington Square, The Chosen, and a couple of other books I vaguely remember from high school that were boring and ponderous in every way. We all hated Great Expectations, but I think there were worse books.

Dr. Rieux
12-02-2006, 04:22 AM
Beloved, by Toni Morrison.

A dreary story about a totally unsympathetic protagonist, written by an author who can't make up her mind whether she's doing a serious literary novel or a lame Exorcist rip-off.

According to Pliny
12-02-2006, 09:16 AM
I read mysteries all the time where Sherlock Holmes is resurrected by someone who has never "gotten" that he's smart. The "missing cases" are full of villains and chases and clues, but they always miss the connection: They have him find the villain by setting a trap or being ambushed, not by using the clues to figure out who and where and how and why.
So, instead of being a story where logic beats crime, it's a story where luck beats crime.

OneCentStamp
12-02-2006, 11:17 AM
Beloved, by Toni Morrison.

A dreary story about a totally unsympathetic protagonist, written by an author who can't make up her mind whether she's doing a serious literary novel or a lame Exorcist rip-off.
Shhh! Oprah Winfrey will hear you! :mad:

Stan Shmenge
12-02-2006, 01:14 PM
I am sorry. You all lose at the internets. Your worst books are lame. All bow before the worst book of all time:

The Ski People (http://www.amazon.com/ski-people-Burton-Hersh/dp/B0006BVKGG/sr=1-1/qid=1165082259/ref=sr_1_1/002-3376446-6123209?ie=UTF8&s=books)

There can be only one.

I found this book in a hotel "library", the kind where the books are all for decoration. These are the books that no-one in their right mind would steal. Being not in my right mind, I stole it. ;) The idiot title serves as your warning. It is all about the inane "racy" (at least for 1968) hijinks at a ski resort.

It is so stupid, with such idiotic characters and tortured prose, just reading ANY random passage is enough to send me and the GF into gales of laughter. I will try to dig it out and favor y'all with a few quotes. It is no surprise that it was this guy's first and last work of fiction. McGraw-Hill, what the hell were you thinking? Yah, yah, blame it on the 60's.

Alpine
12-02-2006, 01:57 PM
I'm surprised no one has mentioned The Bridges of Madison County. Maybe you weren't fools enough to read this piece of dogshit.

I think I've blocked the others from memory, except for The DaVinci Code.

SnakesCatLady
12-02-2006, 02:18 PM
"The Ladies of the Club", I think it was. A six-inch thick paperback written by a 90-something year old woman. It is the only book I started I never finished, and I have finished some stinkers!

Sassy
12-02-2006, 04:15 PM
I tried to read one of the Left Behind books, but couldn't do it...

look!ninjas
12-02-2006, 04:45 PM
For some reason, I picked up Patricia Cornwell's Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper, Case Closed as part of my Ripper material a few weeks back. I'm not sure why. I cringed when she said her subject was Walter Sickert. I felt a bit funny inside when she increased the number of canon victims from five to seven. (For the record, she seems to attribute at least nine murders to Sickert's Ripper, including some that occurred out of the London area, and one or two young boys.) A few chapters in, she was confidently declaring that Sickert committed the murders owing to the fact that he lost his manly bits as a child, despite the fact that she had no actual proof of that. The rest of her evidence was even worse. And yet I kept right on reading, even though I was alternating between cursing the book and mocking it. I have no idea why I didn't just throw the book down and read something else. Maybe I was just enjoying the fact that, compared to her, I'm a freaking Ripper expert.

light strand
12-02-2006, 05:00 PM
I generally have no compunction about putting down a book half read when I get bored or don't like it, so the books I've actually read that I hated compose a very short list of one: The Bridges of Madison County. I hated this book. It is the only book I've ever completed, which, when I laid it down I said to myself, Someone owes me three hours of my life back. It was trite, stupid, unromantic, full of unlikeable characters, and badly written.

I reasons I finished it: because it was so highly recommended that I kept expecting it to get better. It was short. I hoped for some killin'.

Sternvogel
12-02-2006, 05:15 PM
"The Ladies of the Club", I think it was. A six-inch thick paperback written by a 90-something year old woman. It is the only book I started I never finished, and I have finished some stinkers!

You were close on the name -- it's "...And Ladies of the Club" (http://www.islandnet.com/~see/weather/elements/lkefsnw1.htm) (the quotation marks are part of the title). I never read it, but I remember the hype, as well as the fact that one of my aunts had a copy prominently displayed in her house.

I did read Great Expectations as an assignment in ninth grade, but I can't join the chorus of hatred for that work. However, I tried to read the appropriately-titled Bleak House when it was on the syllabus of a college class on the Victorian novel, only to realize after about fifty pages that I'd take a chance on being able to BS my way through any final-exam question that related to this Dickensian minim opus. (I was also taking a course on literature of the American South that semester, and forced myself to slog through every one of the assigned works in that class*, as I knew that the professor had a policy of asking students, when they took a final in any of his courses, to attest to the fact that they had indeed perused all the relevant material. The professor of British lit had no such policy.)

* actually, most of the books were pretty good, but I had to race against time in order to finish Look Homeward, Angel on the night before the exam

SailBunny
12-02-2006, 05:34 PM
I agree about Steinbeck's The Red Pony. Never put "pony" in the title of a book that is not intended for horse crazy pre-teens...holy cow Depresso! I read it a few years later, searching for something I'd missed, and hated it just the same.

Also, about Name of The Rose, I had to read this for an AP English class in high school for summer reading. Our teacher told us that Eco purposely made the first 100 pages difficult to slog through as some sort of test for the reader. Only those that made it through were worthy of the rest of the book. It does get more interesting by the end, although we were so concerned with picking it apart into little literary pieces that all entertainment value was lost.

gallows fodder
12-02-2006, 05:42 PM
I read Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld. As testimony to how much I hated it, let me just say I've written four drafts of this post and each version ended in incoherent snarling how heinous the main character was. She was the most morose, spineless, soulless, vapid, loathsome creature I have ever encountered in fiction, and if she were alive I'd suggest she swallow her tongue and quickly.

I only read the book because my roommate asked me to. And I vented about it in this thread (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=364776) a few months ago. And it still pisses me off.

Earl Snake-Hips Tucker
12-02-2006, 05:56 PM
No contest. Harlan Ellison, Memos from Purgatory.
[/Ellison]

An adaptation of which was made into an "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" episode featuring Walter Koenig as a bad-ass gang leader. :dubious:

Frosted Glass
12-02-2006, 05:56 PM
Great Expectations is traumatic!

I knew someone here would agree with me. Great Expectations was awful and by far my least favorite of all assigned readings. Unfortunately for me, I also read it first in 8th grade and then had the good fortune of having to read it for class in 9th grade. Stupid, boring and pointless.

My second nomination goes to The Da Vinci Code. My ex-girlfriend recommended it to me and she is normally so damn picky that I figured it would be a good read. That combined with the hype is probably the reason that I hate it so much. It may be a good novel for people who are illiterate but for anyone who has actually read a book before it is terrible. I am convinced that she recommended it to mess with me.

Neidhart
12-02-2006, 06:04 PM
The Special Prisoner (http://www.amazon.com/Special-Prisoner-Jim-Lehrer/dp/1586480421/sr=1-8/qid=1165100515/ref=sr_1_8/104-1442395-7287125?ie=UTF8&s=books) by Jim Lehrer. The blurb made it sound interesting, but he simply can't write.

ivylass
12-02-2006, 06:59 PM
I will admit to reading Shelters of Stone by Jean Auel, mainly because I fell in love with the Earth Children series. I have never been so disappointed in my life. It's like she was phoning it in. Repetitive, conflicts set up and then pettily resolved, slow and dull. I will probably check out the next book at the library, but unless it's much much much better I won't be buying it.

I will also admit that Whirlwind by James Clavell was not good either. Too many characters and I couldn't keep track of them all, or remember why I was supposed to care about them. I'm rereading Tai-Pain and it's much better.

I guess I'm sucked in because I admire the author's other works. But if it's a new person that I've never read before and they fail to enthrall me, it gets tossed.

InternetLegend
12-02-2006, 07:21 PM
I generally have no compunction about putting down a book half read when I get bored or don't like it, so the books I've actually read that I hated compose a very short list of one: The Bridges of Madison County. I hated this book. It is the only book I've ever completed, which, when I laid it down I said to myself, Someone owes me three hours of my life back. It was trite, stupid, unromantic, full of unlikeable characters, and badly written.You've named the very last book I ever read all the way through regardless of how much I hated it. Before Bridges, I used to feel compelled to finish any book I started, but once I'd soldiered my way through that particular dreck, I was cured. This is why I haven't actually read more than the first pages of The Celestine Prophecy (another milestone - it's the first book I received as a gift and exchanged for something better) or The DaVinci Code.

(I only made my way through all of Bridges because a) it was a gift from my mother-in-law, who hadn't actually read it but who once lived in Madison County and b) she'd written a note on the title page to that effect, so I couldn't take it back anyway.)

I can't say any of these three would qualify as the single worst book I've read. I'm sorry to say I've hacked my way through many of the books listed in this thread, and it would be just as hard for me to choose just one as the very worst as it would be for me to pick just one of my favorite books as the very best.

Dr. Rieux
12-02-2006, 08:44 PM
An adaptation of which was made into an "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" episode featuring Walter Koenig as a bad-ass gang leader. :dubious:
And James Caan as Harlan.

Smeghead
12-02-2006, 11:10 PM
By the way, everyone, you realize that we're only even having a discussion here because nobody on the SDMB has actually read Mission Earth (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mission_earth), right? :p
Sorry - I've been offline. I've posted rants in many threads before about the sheer horror of that series. I read all ten volumes. I started it because (A) I'd never read L. Ron, and had no idea how bad he was, and (B) because I'd seen that damn series on various library shelves for decades, and finally just had to know what the deal was. I continued it after the first ten pages out of some perverse desire to be able to warn people about it without worrying about hearing "Yeah, the first six books were bad, but then it got GREAT!!"

You can search my other posts if you're really fascinated, but the line that sums up my feeling about it is this: "Calling this series a dungheap is an unforgiveable insult to all the fine, hardworking, nutrient-producing, decaying piles of shit out there that do so much for us all."

I'm sorry - I'm sure all the other people in this thread have read some bad books, but this one wins, hands down. No other books has been such a useless sacrifice of trees. If we recycled every copy into toilet paper so that I could wipe my ass with this series, it would be improved by orders of magnitude.

I really didn't like that series.

Rubystreak
12-02-2006, 11:13 PM
While I wouldn't say it's the worst book ever, here's why I have a bug about Great Expectations. I used to teach 9th grade English. I was given a choice to teach either GE or The Lord of the Flies. Of course, I picked LotF because it's got way more appeal and interest for 14 year olds than GE, which is insanely long and fucking annoying.

At the end of my 3rd year, my department chair, in her infinite wisdom, decided that LotF was too adult for 9th graders and insisted that I teach GE instead.

I quit that goddamn job before I had to inflict that horror on my students. That's not the reason I quit (some of it had to do with my department chair being one of the worst human beings I've ever met), but it is a representative sample of why.

RealityChuck
12-02-2006, 11:31 PM
Atlanta Nights. It was designed to be the worst book ever written, and it is hilariously successful. Maybe it shouldn't count, since it's a parody, but since RealityChuck posted here....Come on . . . you didn't really read the whole thing.

Lissa
12-03-2006, 12:13 AM
I will admit to reading Shelters of Stone by Jean Auel, mainly because I fell in love with the Earth Children series. I have never been so disappointed in my life. It's like she was phoning it in. Repetitive, conflicts set up and then pettily resolved, slow and dull. I will probably check out the next book at the library, but unless it's much much much better I won't be buying it.

I bought this one at a closeout store for four dollars. I feel I was ripped off.

Every book since the second in the series seems to have the same plot: Ayla and Jondalar have sex. Ayla faces prejudice because of her background. Ayla and Jondalar have sex. Ayla invents something/saves someone's life and overcomes the prejudice. Ayla and Jondalar have sex.

LavenderBlue
12-03-2006, 12:57 AM
The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger. I checked it out from the library one summer in a misguided attempt at finding some good "beach reads" for vacation. Horribly plotted, terribly written, soul-destroying, 350 page-long, name-dropping monstrosity.



That's the book that immediately came into my head when I saw thread title. A pretentious bit of nonsense written by someone comes across as a snide, shallow, obnoxious spoiled brat.

Her main character's ambition is to work for the New Yorker. The author writes so poorly she'd be lucky to write for the National Enquirer. I swear I was rooting for the villain.

ACC_Expat
12-03-2006, 01:02 AM
I knew there was no way that I'd be the first person to list Great Expectations. To give Dickens credit, I rather like A Tale of Two Cities.

I did not like The Scarlet Letter either, but before you give up on Hawthorne, try reading some of his short stories. I think he was really gifted with that form.

CJJ*
12-03-2006, 01:08 AM
I had to read that despicable piece of ultraboring bilge in high school. I've already told my son that, if GE is ever required reading, he has my blessing to skip the rest of that class. I can only hope that someone does a re-write of it where Pip grows up, kicks his sister's ass, and gets Miss Havisham placed in a nice, secure nursing home.

I'd be curious to hear what you'd recommend instead of Great Expectations. I've met plenty of folks who didn't like it, some who said it was one of the best novels they'd ever read, but not a single one who called it "ultraboring bilge" and hoped a rewrite would end more like a Stallone/Schartzenegger picture...

Marley23
12-03-2006, 01:14 AM
Come on . . . you didn't really read the whole thing.
I go to bad movie festivals. I managed to read The Da Vinci Code. You think I couldn't do Atlanta Nights? By the way, if I haven't told you before, your chapter is one of the funniest.

jacob wrestling
12-03-2006, 05:57 AM
It appears that Great Expectations is required reading for pretty much every American high school student - that's how it was inflicted on me, too. Aside from the hate that other Dopers have so lavishly and articulately heaped upon it, what really bothers me is that there are so many other wonderful books out there that we could be reading instead. Rubystreak, I would have infinitely preferred Lord of the Flies.

I thought of another classic that I personally detest, though I can at least understand the literary merits: Madame Bovary. Mon Dieu, I wanted to slit my wrists and die a quick death, which is what Mme Bovary should have done.

williambaskerville
12-03-2006, 06:23 AM
Those of you excoriating The Bridges of Madison County (which would be in my bottom 10), should keep an eye out for "The Ditches of Edison County", My wife loved the original, and I made her read the parody, and know she can't even think of any scene in the original without laughing. She's never forgiven me.

My flat out worst book ever was "Mutant 59, the Plastic Eater". An airport, a long flight closing in 2 minutes,a book required, and the result was this. The damn thing.. a professionally published book, with covers and everything,... had SPELLING mistakes. I finished the flight reading the inflight magazine. Don't ask me anything about it, I've blotted it from my memory.

Worst book by a writer who can actually write was Ian McEwan's "Saturday". I reread it recently, and it's effectively already dated and largely unreadable. It will be his most ignored book in 20 years, I confidently predict.

Caprese
12-03-2006, 06:37 AM
I knew there was no way that I'd be the first person to list Great Expectations. To give Dickens credit, I rather like A Tale of Two Cities.

I did not like The Scarlet Letter either, but before you give up on Hawthorne, try reading some of his short stories. I think he was really gifted with that form.
Yes. I loved Dickens' Bleak House.
And I remember enjoying Hawthorne's short stories, such as The Birthmark.
My mom told me we were related to Hawthrone, perhaps that's why I made a point of giving him another try.
But The Scarlet Letter was a grim slog for me.

jabiru
12-03-2006, 06:47 AM
Joseph Heller, Something Happened. No, it didn't. I persevered unto the end; these days I wouldn't.

eleanorigby
12-03-2006, 07:01 AM
I agree with GE, and most of the choices here.

For me, the worst book-which I have tried to read 3 times and failed after about page 17--is Bonfire of the Vanities. I don't know who wrote it-I dont' care. I didn't care about the protagonist one whit, in fact, I disliked him enough by page 17 that I truly hope he ends up dead or hurt or something. Ugh.




Other books that I hated and will not read again and do not recommend in the slightest:


Bastard Out of Carolina --to say the author has an agenda would be mild.


We All Fall Down -by some right wing fundamentalist who writes shite and can only get published from some online source. I had to read it for a book club (a book club mind you who does a recipe book once a year--I no longer belong) and to use this book for kindling would be a kindness.

RickJay
12-03-2006, 09:16 AM
I had en English teacher once who told me, "You need to read Great Expectations before you die." So I went and read it and it was astoundingly bad. I went back to him and told him it sucked and I hated it and he said, "Now death won't seem as scary."

ivylass
12-03-2006, 09:45 AM
I never read GE in high school. I was, however, assigned The Bear by William Faulkner.

That piece of trash was so confusing I couldn't make heads or tails of it. I know it was supposed to be representative of "stream of consciousness" but Faulkner took three paragraphs to say that a boy was 10 years old. I had to have the teacher explain it before I rolled my eyes and said, "Why didn't he just say that?" I truly believe the only good thing Faulkner wrote was A Rose for Emily.

Is it because we're "forced" to read the books in school that we don't like them? I did enjoy Watership Down, but I don't see a lot of schools assigning Gone with the Wind or Tom Sawyer, although we did get assigned Huckleberry Finn.

Ludovic
12-03-2006, 10:23 AM
The worst book I've finished voluntarily is Eragon, because my Dad gave it to me as a gift.

In the first few pages it appeared clear that the writer had a so-so grasp on the way English idioms are used in fiction, and a sophomoric love of dropping lingo into places it shouldn't be (f'rinstance, and I'm paraphrasing: "two of them had longswords, and two of them had hand-and-a-half swords": umm, sorry but that seems like a passage straight out of a D+D module.) This became so annoying that halfway through I read the author information to verify my hunch that it was written by a teenager, which it indeed was. Now, normally I'd give him credit for this, but his connections in the industry he had to get this pile of dreck published more than make up for his youth in terms of how much credit is due.

Of course it doesn't help that it's filled with every cliche in the fantasy world, and several cliches that were invented purely for the book :).

That said, I am going to see the movie because it's physically impossible to film it without lots of sweeping panoramic wilderness shots, and I'm a sucker for fantasy wilderness cinematography. Now, I don't know where it was filmed, but I'd even give it a huge stinkin pile of pass if it was filmed in New Zealand, because the terrain in the book is much more suited for New Zealand than LOTR was. In fact, that's about the only thing I wouldn't think would be a cliche.

Which of course means that they filmed it in Switzerland or France or somewhere ;)

RikWriter
12-03-2006, 10:25 AM
The worst book I've finished voluntarily is Eragon, because my Dad gave it to me as a gift.

In the first few pages it appeared clear that the writer had a so-so grasp on the way English idioms are used in fiction, and a sophomoric love of dropping lingo into places it shouldn't be (f'rinstance, and I'm paraphrasing: "two of them had longswords, and two of them had hand-and-a-half swords": umm, sorry but that seems like a passage straight out of a D+D module.) This became so annoying that halfway through I read the author information to verify my hunch that it was written by a teenager, which it indeed was. Now, normally I'd give him credit for this, but his connections in the industry he had to get this pile of dreck published more than make up for his youth in terms of how much credit is due.

Of course it doesn't help that it's filled with every cliche in the fantasy world, and several cliches that were invented purely for the book :).

That said, I am going to see the movie because it's physically impossible to film it without lots of sweeping panoramic wilderness shots, and I'm a sucker for fantasy wilderness cinematography. Now, I don't know where it was filmed, but I'd even give it a huge stinkin pile of pass if it was filmed in New Zealand, because the terrain in the book is much more suited for New Zealand than LOTR was. In fact, that's about the only thing I wouldn't think would be a cliche.

Which of course means that they filmed it in Switzerland or France or somewhere ;)


IIRC, they filmed it somewhere in Eastern Europe.

asterion
12-03-2006, 10:30 AM
Is it because we're "forced" to read the books in school that we don't like them? I did enjoy Watership Down, but I don't see a lot of schools assigning Gone with the Wind or Tom Sawyer, although we did get assigned Huckleberry Finn.It's probably safe to say that everyone in this thread reads for pleasure (so that'll weed out anyone who would complain about having to read anything.) But we all have our own genres of interest and often authors of interest inside those genres and aren't likely to pick up something way outside when we're reading for pleasure. Heck, my bookshelf is basically nothing but science fiction and a little fantasy (filled with Asimov, Card, Heinlein, Niven, Morressy, Steele, Adams, Swanwick, King, Rowling, lots of anthologies and issues of the commerical magazines, and several other authors), a few non-fiction (mostly on chemistry and not counting my textbooks) and humor books, and lots of Calvin and Hobbes. I'll read other things (I discovered a liking for Chekov and Tolstoy, for instance, while having to read them in high school) but when I'm reading for pleasure I generally stick in those genres. And I can like things I normally wouldn't have read, or at least appreciate them as literature, but some books are just not worth it. For instance, I had to read Camus' The Plague. I'm not about to pick up anything else by Camus, but it's not because I hated what I had to read. On the other hand, for a somewhat-related class (same professor, different subject) I had to read one of the Left Behind books (Apocalypse, which I think is the penultimate book in the series.) Besides my own personal conflicts with the entire freaking premise of the book it reads like badly ghostwritten Tom Clancy. I'm talking like those books that have Clancy's name on them but are written by a completely different guy, like "Tom Clancy's Op-Center".

I think some of the problems are that books are forced on students at the wrong time. It was pointed out above with Lord of the Flies versus Great Expectations. I was probably too young when I first read 1984 but it wasn't forced on me. Heck, I loved Tolkien as a kid and my parents had The Lord of the Rings sitting right there on the bookshelf, but I couldn't actually manage to read it until fairly late in high school. I was told once that one shouldn't read Ecclesiastes until the age of 30 (or something like that.)

asterion
12-03-2006, 10:47 AM
The worst book I've finished voluntarily is Eragon, because my Dad gave it to me as a gift.

In the first few pages it appeared clear that the writer had a so-so grasp on the way English idioms are used in fiction, and a sophomoric love of dropping lingo into places it shouldn't be (f'rinstance, and I'm paraphrasing: "two of them had longswords, and two of them had hand-and-a-half swords": umm, sorry but that seems like a passage straight out of a D+D module.) This became so annoying that halfway through I read the author information to verify my hunch that it was written by a teenager, which it indeed was. Now, normally I'd give him credit for this, but his connections in the industry he had to get this pile of dreck published more than make up for his youth in terms of how much credit is due.

Of course it doesn't help that it's filled with every cliche in the fantasy world, and several cliches that were invented purely for the book :).
Ah, Eragon. That's one of those books I just can't decide whether or not I want to pick up and read. I've seen a lot of reviews just like yours, that it was written by a teenager and it shows, being very cliched. Heck, I've seen the previews for the movie and can't decide if the guy's deliberately ripping off McCaffery and several other writers or not. Reviews like this don't help: If an adult had written and published this, I would have been disgusted (as I was with the Sword of Shannara) with the clear calculation that had gone into the work: ok, I'll take a lot of Tolkien, a lot of McCaffery, a good amount of Leguin, some Dragonlance, some Star Wars, etc. It will be a can't miss book." Since it's the product not of an adult but of a teenager, it comes across much more positively--as a work of fiction by someone who has read lots and absorbed lots of fantasy and simply didn't have the experience (or the good editor) to take out all of his favorite parts of other works. How can I dislike or be too critical of someone who so obviously loved some of my own favorite authors, loved them so much that they simply took over his book through I'm guessing no fault of his own. I have an Audible subscription and it's time to pick another audiobook (hard for me since I'd rather read a book than listen to it.) I'm not coming up with anything else I want to get, so I'm trying to decide whether or not to get the audiobook of Eragon.

Lissa
12-03-2006, 11:06 AM
The worst book I've finished voluntarily is Eragon, because my Dad gave it to me as a gift.

In the first few pages it appeared clear that the writer had a so-so grasp on the way English idioms are used in fiction, and a sophomoric love of dropping lingo into places it shouldn't be (f'rinstance, and I'm paraphrasing: "two of them had longswords, and two of them had hand-and-a-half swords": umm, sorry but that seems like a passage straight out of a D+D module.) This became so annoying that halfway through I read the author information to verify my hunch that it was written by a teenager, which it indeed was. Now, normally I'd give him credit for this, but his connections in the industry he had to get this pile of dreck published more than make up for his youth in terms of how much credit is due.

Was it originally written in English? If not, the fault could lie with a piss-poor translator.

RikWriter
12-03-2006, 11:08 AM
Was it originally written in English? If not, the fault could lie with a piss-poor translator.

I'm pretty sure the kid is an English speaker...

Stan Shmenge
12-03-2006, 11:15 AM
I'm surprised no one has mentioned The Bridges of Madison County. Maybe you weren't fools enough to read this piece of dogshit.I haven't read the book, but I liked the movie. Maybe it is the magic powerz of Meryl Streep!

you with the face
12-03-2006, 12:04 PM
A Time to Kill by John Grisham.

I couldn't read another Grisham book after that rotten piece of menudo.

AuntiePam
12-03-2006, 12:40 PM
I haven't read the book, but I liked the movie. Maybe it is the magic powerz of Meryl Streep!

From what the critics were saying, Eastwood kept the bones of the story and tossed the glurgey dialogue.

Anyone else tempted to try some of the clunkers mentioned here? Great Expectations is in the TBR. I think I'll give it a go, just to see what all the fuss is about.

Jeep's Phoenix
12-03-2006, 01:22 PM
Previously on this board, I've mentioned how much I despised The Pushcart War when I had to read it for a sixth grade book club/book trivia competition. At the time, I thought it was silly bordering on stupid -- come on, puncturing truck tires with little pins? I recently looked it up again, and it's just as bad as I remember -- mainly because it seems to be nothing more than a big piece of socialist propaganda (something that went completely over my head as a child).

jsgoddess
12-03-2006, 01:41 PM
Anyone else tempted to try some of the clunkers mentioned here? Great Expectations is in the TBR. I think I'll give it a go, just to see what all the fuss is about.

It's one of my favorite books. I think it's pretty accessible for Dickens.

jsgoddess
12-03-2006, 01:45 PM
Ah, Eragon. That's one of those books I just can't decide whether or not I want to pick up and read. I've seen a lot of reviews just like yours, that it was written by a teenager and it shows, being very cliched.

It's a book that's better when you consider the author's age than it is alone. Definitely not the worst book I've read in the past five years, but nowhere near the top 100. I finished it, and I no longer bother to finish books that I have no interest in.

I do hope the book is inspirational to kids, though.

OneCentStamp
12-03-2006, 01:49 PM
From what the critics were saying, Eastwood kept the bones of the story and tossed the glurgey dialogue.
You mean there was more?!? :eek: :p

MadPansy64
12-03-2006, 03:00 PM
Anyone else tempted to try some of the clunkers mentioned here?

I liked The Historian. Didn't love it, by no means a favorite, but I'd read it again if the mood struck. It is pretty good, actually, except for the Dracula parts. :D

Abby_Emma_Sasha
12-03-2006, 03:01 PM
The worst book I have ever read was John Grisham's "Runaway Jury". Why? I liked Grisham's former novels, even though some book snobs would condemn me for my taste. I didn't care, his books were well written and served to make me think about the justice system as it is.

I read "Runaway Jury" as a thriller that I thought I would enjoy. Imagine my surprise when it turned out to be a big old PSA for ... for who? The Non smokers association? What the hell? What were you trying to prove? Why do you think smokers deserve to sue cigarette companies? Do you think they don't know they are smoking tainted cigarettes? Do you think I go to your movies to see PSA's?

John Grisham made an enemy of me with that movie.

Abby_Emma_Sasha
12-03-2006, 03:05 PM
I meant to say Grisham made an enemy of me with that novel. The movie, of course, was changed to gun control rights. And that didn't sit well with me either.

RikWriter
12-03-2006, 03:36 PM
It's one of my favorite books. I think it's pretty accessible for Dickens.


Oh it was accessible. It just sucked. The plot was horribly ridiculous and most everything that happened was incredibly pointless.

MarcusF
12-03-2006, 03:54 PM
Asterion mentions a book as being like a “badly ghost written Tom Clancy” but what about bad Clancy itself? First up, I enjoyed the early Clancys – Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, Cardinal of the Kremlin, etc. were all good solid escapist page turners – but what about the later Jack Ryan books? Debt of Honor was iffy, Executive Orders was over long, but The Bear and The Dragon was truly awful.

The premise is laughable and plotting is daft – technology conquers all as the good guy’s equipment works perfectlly, I can forgive that, however unrealistic, as standard Clancy – but the writing is so verbose and repetitious as it wanders on for a thousand pages. Great chunks of the wisdom of TC are repeated word for word in different sections of the book which cries out for the services of a good editor. Eliminate a third of the text and you might end up with reasonable Tom Clancy novel suitable for reading on the beach.

RikWriter
12-03-2006, 05:29 PM
Asterion mentions a book as being like a “badly ghost written Tom Clancy” but what about bad Clancy itself? First up, I enjoyed the early Clancys – Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, Cardinal of the Kremlin, etc. were all good solid escapist page turners – but what about the later Jack Ryan books? Debt of Honor was iffy, Executive Orders was over long, but The Bear and The Dragon was truly awful.

The premise is laughable and plotting is daft – technology conquers all as the good guy’s equipment works perfectlly, I can forgive that, however unrealistic, as standard Clancy – but the writing is so verbose and repetitious as it wanders on for a thousand pages. Great chunks of the wisdom of TC are repeated word for word in different sections of the book which cries out for the services of a good editor. Eliminate a third of the text and you might end up with reasonable Tom Clancy novel suitable for reading on the beach.


I knew Clancy was dead to me when he spent an ENTIRE CHAPTER of The Sum of All Fears describing in minute technical detail the events that took place in the first few microseconds after a nuclear weapon exploded.

Baldwin
12-03-2006, 08:08 PM
No contest. Harlan Ellison, Memos from Purgatory.



Umm, well, they were real tough street hoods. I was in, ya know, serious mortal danger. I had to establish street cred. They dragged out one of their sexy gun molls, ya know, hard-bitten 'bitch dames'. And she looked at me with a gang challenge. And I knew my credibilty and manhood and survival in front of those warriors of the asphalt was at stake, right then and there. I had to do it. For the sake of the glorious Totally Authentic, I've Been There BOOK I was writing. Ahem. Yes, folks, I "did her". I, umm, "fucked the bitch", as the spoken currency, the argot, would have it. All in the name of Research. I had to Do Myself Proud, I was being evaluated. When the Deed was Done, they "slapped" me what is known as "high fives". Take note. I am way cool. I "get it". I, umm, blend right in. But I'm telling you, it was a scary moment, I was right there on the edge. But I am way cool. I "fucked" a "chick". You have to be ready for anything if you're going to do this kind of thing, and if you can't handle the Nitty Gritty, umm, then don't go there. It's not for everyone. Not everyone could handle having to have sex with a 14 year old girl to avoid being perceived as a total schmuck by a bunch of 17 year old urban "toughs". But I did and I am here to tell you the tale.


Apparently not the Memos from Purgatory that I read. Maybe there's another book with the same title, written by a different writer who's also named Ellison.

But if I had to bet, I'd bet that you never actually read the book.

My pick: The Tommyknockers by Stephen King. Brain-damaging crap. Can't believe my brother recommended that book. Hundreds of pages of hoping it was going to get better. I wasn't surprised to learn later that King wrote it with tissue up his nose because he was doing so much blow.

squeegee
12-03-2006, 11:11 PM
Hannibal, hands down. That book pissed me off. I bought it hardcover, and tossed it in a dumpster shortly after finishing it.

AuntiePam
12-03-2006, 11:44 PM
You're not the first to mention Hannibal. Was it the ending that ticked you off?

I liked it, but I was smirking all the way through it, which is probably what Thomas Harris was doing too. "Take this, you Lecter lovers! And leave me alone!"

But now he's written another -- this one's about Lecter's youth.

squeegee
12-04-2006, 01:04 AM
I'm not sure how to characterize my reaction to Hannibal. It was awful on so many levels. In TSotL, the tension was between the clean characters (Clarice, etc), and those so far over the edge (Hannibal, the serial killer). This tension, and the chase for good to overtake Evil, was the heart of the story.

In Hannibal, none of this matters -- the "out there" people are both protagonists (Hannibal!) and evil doers (Verger). There is no good or bad, only means and ends.

Jeezus K Rist! At the end, Hannibal and Clarice eat Vergers brain, and become lovers! You defend this crap?

squeegee
12-04-2006, 01:16 AM
Excuse me, I should have said:

At the end, Hannibal and Clarice eat Krendler's brain, and become lovers! You defend this crap?
:rolleyes:

FriarTed
12-04-2006, 08:03 AM
Atlanta Nights. It was designed to be the worst book ever written, and it is hilariously successful. Maybe it shouldn't count, since it's a parody, but since RealityChuck posted here...

I'm tempted to re-nominate The Da Vinci Code, but at least that thing had flow - unlike Washington Square, The Chosen, and a couple of other books I vaguely remember from high school that were boring and ponderous in every way. We all hated Great Expectations, but I think there were worse books.

You don't mean The Chosen by Chaim Potok, do you?

I excused people here who blaspheme Ayn Rand because they just don't understand her. :D *d&r* but to diss Potok's The Chosen!?!?!

SanVito
12-04-2006, 08:22 AM
Without hesitation, I nominate The Red Tent by Anita Diamant.

I had numerous friends recommend it, tell me it was the most amazing book EVER yadd yadd, and eventually one of said 'friends' bought it for me for Christmas.

For those who haven't suffered their way through it, the book is an imaginary account of the life of Rachel and Leah, two wives of Jacob (of Bible fame). The red tent is basically a tent that the numerous wives have to go and sit in when they're on the blob. So, it's a book about periods. Occasionally, someone gives birth in said tent. Sometimes, when not on the blob, they're allowed out of the tent to wait on the men. End of story.

I have lost all faith in the judgement of my friends.

FriarTed
12-04-2006, 08:43 AM
We All Fall Down -by some right wing fundamentalist who writes shite and can only get published from some online source. I had to read it for a book club (a book club mind you who does a recipe book once a year--I no longer belong) and to use this book for kindling would be a kindness.

I finally read this back in March. You'd think he was a righty fundy, but not quite- I gotta find the website, but he started it as a diatribe against fundyism & then took the greater challenge of writing it from that POV.

There's more than the usual amount of editing, spelling & continuity errors, but it's a great visceral read- I'd love to see a movie version but only Tarantino could do it justice.

For those who have no idea what this is- imagine a one-volume LEFT BEHIND with all the sex & gore & cussing that would really ensue during the Tribulation. Marvelously brutal!

VunderBob
12-04-2006, 08:51 AM
Congo, by Michael Chrichton. It opened my eyes regarding what a hack writer he truly is. The heroine has this annoying habit of pulling stuff out of her ass throughout the story, like secretly stashed satellite phones, to the point that it was manmade Deus Ex Machina...

Also, a close second the book by Stephen King about the alien invasion in winter (I forget the title; Dreamcatcher?) has soured my liking of his stories. That one was too long, and the army unit trying to control the foothold by killing the infected victims was waaaaaay too unbelievable.

eleanorigby
12-04-2006, 09:11 AM
I finally read this back in March. You'd think he was a righty fundy, but not quite- I gotta find the website, but he started it as a diatribe against fundyism & then took the greater challenge of writing it from that POV.

There's more than the usual amount of editing, spelling & continuity errors, but it's a great visceral read- I'd love to see a movie version but only Tarantino could do it justice.

For those who have no idea what this is- imagine a one-volume LEFT BEHIND with all the sex & gore & cussing that would really ensue during the Tribulation. Marvelously brutal!

Not marvelously brutal-needlessly visceral with no point or focus. Here-let's throw in a woman having sex with a dog-because that's what happens, children, when you don't say YES to Jesus. Just one example. Convert the Jews! Convert the Jews! is another.

I do not see this as a diatribe against fundies-I read it as a paean to such, as did the reviews, IMS.


blech.

Blessedly, memory has obscured the rest of the book. I much prefer the episode of Six Feet Under that deals with all things apocalyptic.....


Not that anyone asked, but I'm telling you any way: Dickens needed an editor. Badly. I can read Thackeray, Austen, Eyre (except Wuthering Heights-blech) etc--it is not the language of that era that confounds me. Chuck must have been paid by the word. GE has to be one of the most nonsensical plots of all time. If they want kids to read Dickens so badly-read A Tale of Two Cities --now that's a good yarn.

Kizarvexius
12-04-2006, 10:32 AM
I've read a lot of awful stuff in my time, but the worst book is still one I was forced to read in 8th grade - The Red Pony by John Steinbeck.

Utter loathing. Hate. The whole plot ends in the first chapter and the rest is scenery. Words cannot express how terrible I found this book to be. And it's considered literature!

Feh.

I feel your pain. During my formative early teen years I went to school in Salinas, California. Had to do three or four book reports on Steinbeck works every year. Blech! I mean, for Og's sake, the guy spends a half of a page describing a glob of spit rolling in the dust!

Utterly worthless.

Catamount
12-04-2006, 11:17 AM
I knew someone who tried his hand at writing. The result was Sarbola, a story about an embittered microbiology grad student suffering under the tutelage (and whips) of a nasty, female researcher. He decides to get back at all academia by releasing a virus that combines the properties of ebola and SARS. He sent me a copy to review. I never wrote back. It was published by one of those self-publishing houses. I like this review (http://www.ralphmag.org/CP/sarbola.html).

HAHAHAHAHAHA! I love the part about the riding whips.

There are several books I've hated and tossed over the years. The Players Come Again, Catcher in the Rye, and Look Homeward Angel are some that immediately spring to mind. The worst book, though has to be Pillar of Salt by Albert Memmi. It's a semiautobiographical novel about a poor Jewish boy growing up in Algeria (?) and how he Got Education and Rose Above His Roots. I didn't even finish reading it. I got to the eighty-millionth rant about how embarrased he was by his family's poverty while they were scrimping to put his sorry ass through school and I closed it firmly. Ungrateful little bastard.

AuntiePam
12-04-2006, 12:34 PM
Excuse me, I should have said:

At the end, Hannibal and Clarice eat Krendler's brain, and become lovers! You defend this crap?
:rolleyes:

Sure. It's over the top and a bit silly, but I think it was intentional, and Harris did a good job getting there. When I finished the book, I had to laugh. Look what he did! I couldn't take it seriously, so I can defend it that way.

Tully Mars
12-04-2006, 01:21 PM
Well, this doesn't really count since I didn't finish the book, but I tried reading Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose. Truly, truly painful; somehow, I managed to slog through about 5 pages before I realized that I was in for another 600 pages of the same inpenetrable prose. I hate giving up on books, feeling that one should stay to the bitter end, but I have limits. Eco found mine.
I had trouble finishing this one. I thought it was due to it being translated from Italian into English. Does anyone know if it reads better in its original language?

CalMeacham
12-04-2006, 01:28 PM
I'm confused by this. I liked In the Name of the Rose, and the movie based on it.


On the other hand, I never could slog all the way through his Foucalt's Pendulum

vibrotronica
12-04-2006, 01:36 PM
American Psycho really blew. I don't know why I finished it, but I did. I blame drugs. And it made a lasting impression on me. The impression was that Brett Easton Ellis was an overhyped hack. Strangely, the movie is really good.

But, Ayn Rand notwithstanding, the worst book I ever read was Armageddeon: The Musical (http://www.amazon.com/Armageddon-Musical-Robert-Rankin/dp/0440503477). It was supposed to be a super-surreal comedy. It was neither.

Carlyjay
12-04-2006, 01:47 PM
Mike, Mike & Me by Wendy Markham.

I'd love to go into lots of details as to why it is an awful book, but there's really only one reason: it's horribly written. It reads like a mediocre-at-best grade ten creative writing assignment. And I'm not just talking plot and character, I mean the actual writing itself was bad.

I have no problem with the occasional book full o' fluff, I like an easy read just as much as the next person, but this book was actually hard to read because it was so poorly written. I have no idea how this woman managed to get published, much less more than 60 books.

Beadalin
12-04-2006, 02:06 PM
I haven't (and won't) finish it, but for me the answer is Chuck Palahniuk's Haunted. It was such a steaming pile of ludicrous, misanthropic shit that I couldn't bear it. I've been trying to give it away but no one else wants it, either.

Smeghead
12-04-2006, 02:38 PM
I wonder if I'm thinking of the right "In the Name of the Rose". I never read it, but I downloaded a BBC radio dramatization and listened to it, because I had a vague impression that Umberto Eco was a Big Important Author-type person.

If I'm thinking of the right thing, it was an incredibly silly murder mystery set partially in a library filled with enough implausable clues, tricks, and gimmicks to make Dan Brown roll his eyes in disgust.

CalMeacham
12-04-2006, 02:54 PM
I wonder if I'm thinking of the right "In the Name of the Rose". I never read it, but I downloaded a BBC radio dramatization and listened to it, because I had a vague impression that Umberto Eco was a Big Important Author-type person.

If I'm thinking of the right thing, it was an incredibly silly murder mystery set partially in a library filled with enough implausable clues, tricks, and gimmicks to make Dan Brown roll his eyes in disgust.



Sounds almost right, but, having read Brown's book and sen the movie, I have to say he's got Eco beat hollow in the "silly clue , trick, and gimmick" department.


Ya want proof? There's no Cryptex in Rose (and vinegar doesn;t dissolve papyrus, anyway0.

elfkin477
12-04-2006, 03:00 PM
I like Great Expectations... The worst book I was forced to read was The Perfect Storm. It's the only book that ever had me contemplating suicide rather than finishing it. I really like the professor who assigned it, but I had to wonder what we did to him.

The worst book I ever read on my own from start to finish was The Twelve (http://www.amazon.com/Twelve-Howard-Kaminsky/dp/0312971400/sr=1-1/qid=1165262054/ref=pd_bbs_1/002-2981497-6825635?ie=UTF8&s=books) by Howard and Susan Kaminsky.

There are a couple of ways to co-write a story. You can write "together" in a whole collaborative manner or you can write alternating chapters. This pair chose a third method, which was very clearly to write alternating chapters, BUT to never ever read what the other author wrote. I guess that would be cheating. The sheer number of things written from chapter to chapter that contradicted what came before were mind-boggling. What I don't understand, however, is how the cultist's daughter ended up with 3 different ages at her time of death, since there were only two authors...

Snickers
12-04-2006, 03:21 PM
Ah, Eragon. That's one of those books I just can't decide whether or not I want to pick up and read. I've seen a lot of reviews just like yours, that it was written by a teenager and it shows, being very cliched. Heck, I've seen the previews for the movie and can't decide if the guy's deliberately ripping off McCaffery and several other writers or not.

I have an Audible subscription and it's time to pick another audiobook (hard for me since I'd rather read a book than listen to it.) I'm not coming up with anything else I want to get, so I'm trying to decide whether or not to get the audiobook of Eragon.

No, don't. Email me your address and I'll mail you my copy of Eragon (hardcover, too!). You can have it. It's derivative of derivatives. I've ranted about it before on these boards. Maybe the kid deserves kudos for writing, but this book never would've been published if an adult had written it. The author liberally rips off everything and everyone (which lots of authors do), but never adds anything original, never inserts his own ideas. And the fact that he's making more money off a movie version pisses me off to no end.

Kythereia
12-04-2006, 03:29 PM
Ducking back into the thread:

I liked The Name of the Rose and its movie version (come on, it's Sean Connery as a 12th century monk! What's not to love here?). I didn't mind Great Expectations. The Scarlet Letter was marginally decent. Surprisingly, I actually enjoyed The Historian quite a bit.

No, my (new) pick isn't War and Peace, which I stuffed into the very bottom of my trashcan after three or four chapters. It's not Ulysses, which had me drooling slack-jawed and snoring over its pages.

Nope. Having loved The Other Boleyn Girl and The Constant Princess, I, browsing the shelves of my library, picked up Virgin Earth by Philippa Gregory.

Never, ever, ever again.

Khan
12-04-2006, 03:55 PM
I'll see this, and raise you a Chapterhouse: Dune. :mad: :D
I'll raise you The Butlerian Jihad and all the other Dune prequels, including the preludes. I got two pages into House Harkonnen when I'd heard enough about how great Baron Harkonnen's pecs looked in leather during his younger years. And since we're going nuts, I'll throw in all of the Dune series outside of the original trilogy. God Emperor made me chuckle, but c'mon. Leto II as Jabba the Hut? Slig pork? "Oh my god, they killed Duncan Idaho?" I'd add Children and Messiah, but I can't say that those are really terrible.

Lisan Al Gaib deliver us when they release Sandworms of Dune.

The book I've hated the most, though, has been My Sister's Keeper, which I had to read for an ethics class. The main storyline involves a 13-year-old girl who was conceived by IVF and chosen as a tissue donor match for her sister, who was fighting AML. The older daughter's kidneys fail, and the younger one sues for medical emancipation when her mom expects her to give up one of her kidneys. It raises some intriguing moral issues, but I just can't get past how humorously bad this book is.

For example, every character has a particular font for chapters written from their perspective. Gives "Harrison Ford in a tweed suit" a run for it's money, don't you think? Add to that to the one-dimensional daytime TV stereotypes and I lose all respect for this book.

One of the side stories involves the dad, a fire fighter, thwarting the efforts of an arsonist who turns out to be none other than...
The juvenile delinquent older brother! *gasp*

There's also the turbulent romance between the girl's lawer and
her guardian ad litem, who were both left scarred by their romance in their upscale high school. She a punk rocker and he of the yacht clube, and the reason he didn't call was because he was in a car accident that left him an epileptic. HIGH SCHOOL, for chrissake! And that's to say nothing of the professional breach their relationship amounts to.

The ending is the icing on the cake:
After building up all this sympathy for the poor younger sister, it turns out at the hearing that A) she was fighting the transplant because her older sister had asker her to and B) she gets killed in the car accident the VERY DAY she wins emancipation. She's brain dead! Now her sister can have BOTH of her kidneys! Fuck yeah! It's just made worse by the fact that the author builds up all this tension over the vanishingly slim chance that the transplant will make any difference, only to have the epilogue given by the older sister 20 years later. One in a million!

I wish a blogger would go after this one like they did The DaVinci Code. Jesus Christ, the fonts!

Whifton_Polekitty
12-05-2006, 12:21 AM
My first choice, "Catcher in the Rye", may be more due to the fact it was assigned reading. However, at the time, the book sucked bloated goat testes to no end. Holden "Whiny Prick" Caufield reminded me altogether too much of my whiny teen friends at the time (read: reminded me altogether too much of myself at the time). the writing was bland and monotonous, and did I mention it was assigned reading?

My second choice, which was picked up of my own free will, was a lovely little work entitled, IIRC, "Cities in Flight", which detailed... Well... Cities. Flying through space. Not spaceships, literally CITIES. Scranton, Pennsylvania was one.

Fergodssake, SCRANTON flying through space. Add in some crazy-assed longetivity drugs and witnessing the END OF THE UNIVERSE and you've got one seriously BAD work of literchure.

It sat on the coffee table for several months after I finished it simply because I didn't want to touch it again. I think my roommate eventually accidently burned it.

Ultra mega HEAVY bad, that one was.