What is the worst book you have ever read? I can’t say too much because I’m a sucker for anything on paper (Except checkout line romances. I want to take a shower just seeing those!) but the worst book I have ever read has got to be The Hobbit. It was boring. I couldn’t get halfway through it. I know it’s suppossed to be a classic, but I don’t see how.
A Farewell To Arms/Hemingway. Ack. Wooden characters. I couldn’t have cared less what happened to anyone in that novel. Every time I say how much I hated this book, I get these gasps of horror and the standard “Oh…you just don’t get his genius.” Whatever.
The worst book I ever forced myself to finish was by Faulkner. I think it was “The Sound and the Fury”. I was attracted to it by the title, of course, being the little Shakespeare geek that I was. When I was finished reading it, I wanted to throw the book as far as I could. I didn’t do that only because it was a library book. I also don’t like Hemmingway. As far as “The Hobbit”, well, if I had read it before “Lord of the Rings”, I’d probably never have read any farther. However, I loved LOTR and still do.
“a classic is a book everyone wishes they had read and no one wants to read…”
once again… I know the quote and don’t know who said it… I can always remember content and can never remember cites…
for some reason I think that one might be Mark Twain, but I’m probably really wrong…
Loved the Hobbit, LOVED Sound and the Fury. Did not much like Farewell to Arms…I’m with Jadis on this one.
We could also consider Howard’s End, which mercifully came to an end many, many unnecessary pages after it had begun.
I’m sure there are many other candidates, but ol’ Howard should have been dead and gone within one paragraph, and I’d have been much happier.
Yep, hated the Hobbit. I don’t think I ever finished it. And I really tried.
The worst book I read recently was The Alienist. I know people love this book, but I just didn’t see the attraction. I remember all the reviews made a big deal about how thoroughly Caleb Carr had reseached “old New York” but I thought it didn’t even come close to Jack Finney’s stuff. I would wager a million dollars that a few people from the SDMB or Eve on her own could sit around for an evening and come up with just as much trivia about old New York without even cracking a book. Plus, the fact that Mr. Alienist assembled a crack team of investigators consisting of a woman and representatives of various minorites was so contrived. He even added some more minorities in the second book (yes, I tortured myself by reading the sequel, I’m sadistic like that).
Everything I’ve read by L. Ron Hubbard (which, thankfully, isn’t much) has absolutely sucked. Horribly.
How Green Was My Valley and Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man were some terrible things I had to read for HS English. Boring snoring.
Without question, “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austin. I was supposed to plow through the entire thing for Eng. 200 in college, but gave up and read the Coles Notes instead. Passed the exam, too.
I was unable to finish The Men Inside by Barry Malzberg.
It was kind of like “Fantastic Voyage.”
But instead of neurosurgeons, they were proctologists.
And instead of submariners, they were spelunkers.
‘Hannibal’ by Thomas Harris. The the sequal to ‘silence of the lambs’ is just god-awful.
The worst book I ever actually read was Ethan Frome, which was required reading in 10th grade English. That book just has no redeeming qualities whatsoever.
An honorable mention (or should that be a dishonorable mention?) goes to Great Expectations, but I didn’t finish that one.
This is tough. I’ve posted on an earlier thread about bad SF books (The Null Frequency Impulser, Cataclysm, Galaxy 666, and Galactic Pot Healer, to mention a few. Virtually everything I’ve read by L. Ron Hubbard, except perhaps The Final Blackout.), but people seem to be listing classics, implying that you’re looking for the worst book that other people think is good, or even classic. In this category I have to list anything by Henry James (The Turn of the Screw, The Beast in the Jungle) or Jane Austen (Pride and Prejudice). I also hated John Knowle’s “A Separate Peace” and James Agee’s “A Death in the Family”. And although I love a lot of Charles Dickens, he can get truly tedious (Hard Times, most of his “Christmas Books” aside from “A CHristmas Carol”).
As God is my witness, I saw the thread title and thought, “Gotta post something about Hannibal!”
I’ve never read a worse book; I can only conclude that Harris was contractually required to write it. The plot is boring and meandering, the settings are boring, the characters are absurd, two-dimensional and uninteresting, there’s no tension, and Harris writes more absolutely dead-awful howler lines than he’s written in all the other books he’s ever written combined. The book’s conclusion is a cop-out and is so utterly ridiculous it defies belief.
I actually read “Battlefield Earth,” and while it was way too long, it still wasn’t as bad as “Hannibal.”
OMG! I just read this (I’m 33) and I loved it! Very dark but geez, great story!
Well, different strokes for different folks, I guess.
I’ll second the L. Ron Hubbard stuff. Love sci-fi and this guy reeks. Couldn’t finish anything he wrote. Blows more than a whale.
A coworker and I were talking about the most awful books we’d read, and he mentioned “Dhalgren” (I think by Delaney, but not sure).
It’s the only book that has ever defeated me (well “1984” was a draw because the copy I had fell apart as I started it. It wasn’t bad though). I tried to read Dhalgren, but it’s like running underwater. Boring, confusing, and just plain bad.
The stuff that they make you read in English classes doesn’t count. Does anyone actually think “Great Expectations” was worth publishing? I’ve read textbooks that had better plots.
The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. Stupid people, stupid plot, and excuse me, but where’s the horror?
When I was twelve or so I read something by Virginia Andrews. Even then I understood how much it sucked. Why do people want to read that kind of trash?
Oh, and my least favourite author. Patricia Cornwell. I read Cause of Death and that Scarpetta person bugged me. How does an ME get mixed up in all that kind of trouble? It’s beyond me. Besides, she’s so full of herself. “Ooh, I made lasagna, and everyone loved it, I’m such a great cook.” Bite me.
This may not be a popular choice, but anything by Brian Lumley. He writes very emphatically!!! With much punctuation!!!.. which is why I can’t stand him. IMHO, if one is not a good enough writer to convey the gravity of a situation without excessive exclamation, then I don’t want to read it.
As a former high-school teacher of mine once said (paraphrasing), “Punctuation should be the nail that holds good words together, not the hammer that drives poor writing into the ground.”
What baffles the hell out of me is that Lumley’s work consistently gets 4 1/2 to 5 stars on Amazon.com’s reader reviews.
I really liked both Pride and Prejudice and Farewell to Arms.
The one book I can recall REALLY hating was “She’s Come Undone” by Wally Lamb.
The worst book I ever read was “American Psycho” by Bret Easton Ellis. The vivid descriptions of the protagonist having sex with the skulls of victims are a memory I wish I did not have. It is normally the mark of a great writer to write scenes that vividly stay with you for years later, but in this case, the writing was closer to pornography. Lurid scenes aside, the novel was poorly written, disjointed and at times confusing. Page after page describing scenes (paint colors, brand of cologne, etc.), with little to no plot development.
If we are including items from school, I could not, despite repeated tries, finish “Jude the Obscure” by Thomas Hardy. So dry, so long, so boring.
CalMencham – Galactic Pot Healer is one of my favorite PKD books, full of great ideas, interesting characters, and a nice theme of continuing struggle for a hopeless cause. I would be interested to hear some of your criticisms of this work. I admit that the plot is a little disjointed, but I was willing to overlook that given the novel characterizations and ideas.
TheNerd – Totally agree with you on Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delany. Terribly written. I wonder why it initially received such high praise from critics. It stinks.