Worst Good Book You Have Ever Read

What is the worst good book you have ever read? There are thousands of terrible books out there but choose from the books that are critically acclaimed. What supposedly great book actually sucked in your opinion?

The Mill on the Floss - Eliot - boring and whiny and a complete waste of my time - I wish they had drowned in chapter one

“Cat’s Eye” by Margaret Atwood. What a crappy piece of crap that was. It was basically what Atwood wished her life were like, I think. It’s half autobiographical to begin with, and some other radnom things seem to be thrown in there just because. The story doesn’t seem to go anywhere, and it’s all in all boring as Hell.

The Catcher In The Rye by J. D. Salinger. As a moody loner in high school, I was pretty sure I’d like it. Wrong-o.

The Good Earth. I’m certain it was just a way to see how much pure torture high-school sophomores can take.

A Farewell To Arms. See above, only with juniors. :slight_smile:

I didn’t get very far into Tristram Shandy. I’m not sure why, but I simply couldn’t get into it, and I was just forcing myself to go on.

Great Expectations by Dickens. Read it for sophomore English lit class in High School. Hated then, hate it to this day.

Anything by Faulkner. I envy the people who like Faulkner because he kept turning up like a bad penny in my curriculum.

Was going to say Moby Dick, but then I remembered the abomination that is A Portrait of a Lady. Gag me with a spoon.

Classically over-rated: The Scarlet Letter.

Contemporarily over-rated: A toss up between the ** His Dark Materials** series and Cold Mountain.

I had been planning to read Portrait of a Lady, and I found it hard to get into. Guess I won’t bother.

Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde
couldn’t even finish it
and every book I had to read while majoring in English Lit in College.

I have two nominations, both read in the 8th grade.

  1. Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham

  2. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway.
    I keep meaning to reread both of them in the hopes that the passage of time may have improved them, I just have not been motivated to do so.

A Tale of Two Cities and Moby Dick, without a doubt, two of the most craptastic pieces of literature available.

How about non-fiction?

Robert McNamara’s In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam, written with Brian VanDeMark, is his book about the decisions made in the White House concerning Vietnam, one of those few books that everyone in the U.S. should read. Its lessons about “the fog of war” (and yes, everybody should go see the documentary of that name) are so crucial that every person that goes to work in the White House should be given a copy of the book upon entrance and forced to read it.

But it is the single worst-written ghosted book I’ve ever read. I don’t know what Brian VanDeMark did to earn his pay but the book takes forever to go through because it is like reading briefing memos for 300 pages.

I still have to recommend it for its subject matter, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Most of them, honestly. The Sun Also Rises was a bunch of boring 20-somethings wandering around Europe drinking. Whoa, momma, does the fun ever start! The Scarlet Letter sucks massive amounts of ass. 100 Years Of Solitude is about a bunch of Mexicans doing stupid stuff in long, boring fashion.

Honestly, I think whoever picks “good books” just wants something most people won’t sit through. I can’t wait to get out of college again and get back to reading decent stuff.

Two things spring to mind… neither one of which is a pleasant memory, thank you very much.

First, Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. Utter dreck featuring a loathsome protagonist. Only read one book and could not see why anyone else would recommend it, aside from the potential for schadenfreude.

Second, the entire Wheel of Time series. Robert Jordan needs an editor so badly it’s pathetic.

I agree with the poster who nominated Tristram Shandy, though that period as a whole doesn’t really agree with me, so I can’t be too hard on it.

The worst book I’ve read from a period I’m otherwise disposed to like is Sister Carrie. Then again, more and more people seem to be admitting that the emperor has no clothes where Dreiser is concerned, so maybe Sister Carrie’s days as a “great book” are numbered.

Bother. It’s a great book. Be patient with it, give yourself time to get used to it. Once I did, I couldn’t put it down.

You majored in English and disliked everything you read? :confused:

Hands down, no competition… Silas Marner. I hated that book so much that, when we finished it in 10th grade, I took great delight in shredding it, page by page, in front of my teacher. (Who grinned and said, “Gee, why don’t you tell me how you really feel about this book?” He’s a great guy!)

I would also nominate The Celestine Prophecies. Great ideas in concept, very poorly executed and also a book that takes itself way too seriously. Rather, perhaps the author takes himself way to seriously. I even read the sequel before deciding the auther was a whackjob and a hack and should go back to his day job.

Oh, how 'bout Bridges Over Madison County? There’s a suckfest if I ever read one. I read it because my boss loved it and gushed over it so much… I wanted to see what the hype was all about. I still have no idea what the hype was all about. Trite, cliched crap, that book. Yet a bestseller… go figure. (I’ve refused to see even a clip of this movie for the same reasons. Besides, Clint Eastwood in a romantic role? Gack!)

Finally… anything written by Michael Crichton. He really has a very simplistic writing style, which is really not very good. The “science” is very watered down and clearly not for anyone with any knowledge at all of the scientific topics he covers. Unfortunately, he’s good at suspense (or something) because once I start one of those books, I can’t put 'em down. Generally, the translations into movies fail to excite as well – even though some of those books would have made GREAT movies, had they been done better.

A Tale of Two Cities. Almost anything by Dickens, really.

I’m not sure it’s renowned for being good so much as for being the first (?) English novel, but I once tried very hard to read Tom Jones. No dice. Ugh.

I will say, in defense of Faulkner, that my high school curriculum involved “double-reading” his books – read a chapter, attend a guided discussion about the chapter in class, and then RE-read that chapter. Hand in a paper demonstrating you “get” what Faulkner intended from that chapter and the importance of any plot points. It was excruciating reading him the first time through, but once I got a certain amount of faith in my instructor and learned the “tricks” Faulkner used, I began to be able to “decode” his writing on the fly.

I’ll save this for a Great Debates thread, but if a novel requires a Master’s degree and three readings (the first of which is guaranteed to be painful) to “decode” the author’s message, then it’s not much of a “good book”.

RikWriter, we also did Great Expectations (I also had to do it once before high school in 7th grade – WAY too early!). I hated it the first time. I hated it the second time, but with the teacher’s explanations, I appreciated it as a good work on the third go-round. Not GREAT, just… good. And I think it’s an important enough piece of literature with compelling enough characters that I’ve got copies all marked up on my bookshelf for when my kids are ready for it.

Now, for the book that double-reading couldn’t fix: Their Eyes Were Watching God. Depressing plot, poorly imagined characters, sappy descriptions, and not a single question or situation that intrigued me, even for a moment. Never caught my interest. I simply. Didn’t. Give. A. Shit. about her attempts to make me care about anyone or anything in the book. The second reading was WORSE.

Oh, wow, I think I repressed this one. I would like to change my vote. Their Eyes Were Watching God it is.