Monday, June 27, 2016

Top Ten Least Favorite Books (That I Didn't Abandon)

I'm linking up with The Broke and the Bookish for another Top Ten Tuesday.

I skipped the past couple weeks because, despite my goal to read more books published this year, I've only read two so far this year and I know of one(?) yet to be published that I want to read. But this week is a freebie, so I can definitely join in!

I previously shared books I abandoned, but I realized I haven't yet shared books I finished but disliked. (A couple showed up on my list of books that were hard for me to read.) I don't claim this is an exhaustive list because I'm sure I've blocked out some terrible books I read long ago, but these are the ones I definitely gave 1-star ratings to.

1. The Children's Book by A.S. Byatt
This book was a gift from my mother-in-law, so I felt obligated to finish the whole thing. What I took away from it was that Byatt created more characters than the reader could possibly keep track of, had most of them have sex with as many other characters as possible, and then killed off the majority of them. Also the book had terrible editorial inconsistencies.

2. Confessions of a Counterfeit Farm Girl by Susan McCorkindale
One month I was looking for funny books and took suggestions from my Facebook friends. Never again. This memoir was so terrible. It's written by a woman from the city who went to live on a farm with her family. What I remember of it was basically like, "OMG my manicured nails are so dirty. You can't wear high heels in the mud. Haha." It was whiny and repetitive. No thank you.

3. A General Theory of Love by Thomas Lewis, Fari Amini, and Richard Lannon
This book showed up in our apartment, and my husband was like, "Oh, [coworker] wants you to read this." I thought it was a personal recommendation and so I struggled through it, but it turns out she hadn't even read it, and I guess wanted to know if it was any good? It wasn't. The writing was overly complex, they made constant unfounded generalizations, and the "theory" seemed to be that children need to be with their mothers 24/7 or they will be doomed for life. I do not understand how this book has such high ratings.

4. Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne
I actually watched the very mediocre movie of this before reading the book, and I was surprised that the movie ended up being more interesting. Spoiler: They don't go to the center of the Earth. They go down a very long tunnel, across a subterranean ocean, and then get blown out a volcano and go home. Also, lots and lots of boring (and outdated) science. I only finished it because it was short and Simon Prebble is a good narrator.

5. Love Does by Bob Goff
This book is ridiculous. I think it's probably popular because people hear Bob Goff speak and then buy his book. Many of the things he "does" in the book are not so much evidence of his love as evidence of his lawyerly wealth and he seems oblivious to how much of what he "gets away with" is evidence of his privilege, not just a cute metaphor for being a Jesus freak. There were good lines throughout, but the book just encapsulated everything I hate about American Christian Culture as a commercial entity.

6. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
I know a lot of people love this book, and I gave Sedaris another try later and enjoyed Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim. This book, though, I mostly found disturbing and not at all funny.

7. Milkrun by Sarah Mlynowski
Another failed result of my attempt to get humor recommendations from my Facebook friends. I don't have a problem with "chick lit" as a genre (and have enjoyed a number of books in that category), but this one was a dud with a shallow, annoying narrator.

8. Must Love Dogs by Claire Cook
This was another case where the movie was surprisingly better. The movie had a narrative thread, whereas the main character here just seemed to date a string of guys and then eventually pick one. It was boring and I did not understand the character's motivations for anything she did.

9. Wicked by Gregory Maguire
I was massively disappointed by this book. I don't know how they managed to turn this into a musical that is so narratively coherent and has such fantastic wordplay. The author doesn't commit to anything in this book. Stuff happens, there are mysterious signs and books that we never get to learn anything else about, and everything is unresolved, like: There's a scarecrow. Elphaba wonders if it could be Fiyero. And then we literally never find out. It was one of the most frustrating reading experiences ever, and then I tortured myself by reading the sequel, Son of a Witch, which answered exactly zero of my questions.

10. The Younger Gods by David & Leigh Eddings
David Eddings wrote some of my favorite books, the Belgariad and Malloreon series, and then at the end of his life he and his wife turn out one final series. It has all this buildup, and then the ending is the equivalent of "and it was all a dream." Seriously, it's like he got tired and just wanted to finish it and wrote the worst ending ever. And this, my friends, is why I try never to start a series unless it's all been written and people genuinely recommend the entire set.

What are your least favorite books?

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