Monday, May 14, 2018

Ten Books I Disliked but Am Glad I Read

I'm linking up with That Artsy Reader Girl for another Top Ten Tuesday.

This week's topic is pretty self-explanatory. I did not enjoy reading these books and would not recommend them, but I'm still glad to have read them for one reason or another.

1. The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss
Most of this book is either impractical or assumes you have no morals, and it's written in a condescending, smug tone. But as one of the books I read in my first year of work out of college, I appreciated how it encouraged me to challenge the societal assumptions about work. I think it may have introduced me to the concept of a results-oriented work environment, which has been a goal of mine for a long time and is now the lens through which I'm looking for my next job.

2. The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
There were long stretches of this that were just painful to get through, but this was one of the few books I had left on a list of classics I had been working on since middle school, and it was satisfying to finish that list. And now I know what everyone's talking about when they reference this book!

3. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
Even though I hate the last 10% of this book with the fire of a thousand suns, this book was so unbelievably popular that I think I'd feel a gaping hole in my reading history if I hadn't read this one. I actually read it twice (thanks, book club) and now feel even more confident in my opinion of what a terrible book it is, which I feel the need to defend against all the people who like it.

4. The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko
The fact that I was able to construct a detailed, point-by-point criticism of this book's content was a satisfying reflection of the fact that I've spent the last decade putting considerable thought into our goals and lifestyle and how to achieve them financially, without having some arbitrary number in mind of how much we'd have to save to "feel rich." (Read I Will Teach You to Be Rich by Ramit Sethi instead.)

5. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
This one is definitely just for the bragging rights. Way, way, way too much about the history and (very outdated) science of whaling for me to actually enjoy the story.

6. Rabbit, Run by John Updike
I feel like this book is so perfectly representative of a certain genre of fiction; as I said in my review, "Hey, it's a sexist, racist mess focused on one selfish straight white man, but that was just the time it was written, and there are THEMES! And SYMBOLS!" It's not just white men, though; the plot of A Personal Matter by Kenzaburō Ōe is extremely similar and just as bad. But hey, I would not have been able to make such an apt comparison if I hadn't read this "classic" first!

7. This Star Won't Go Out by Esther Earl
My 1-star Goodreads review of this book has received far more likes than any other review I've written. I couldn't call myself a Nerdfighter if I hadn't read this one, but wow — what a perfect example of what happens when someone takes the source material for a book and, instead of turning it into a compelling, well-edited story, just outright publishes the whole stack and lets it ride the coattails of a famous author.

8. Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
This is another one where I'm glad to understand the cultural references (another book I read right after this one called someone a "Dobbin" and I was like, "I know what that means!") but what a slog — all the characters are awful people, and it wants to be a satire but is too cruel and dark to be funny.

9. Washed and Waiting by Wesley Hill
I had heard about this book for years because in gay Christian circles it's held up as the "Side B" book (i.e., gay people are called to celibacy). I consider Torn by Justin Lee the ultimate "Side A" book (i.e., God blesses loving relationships between people of any gender), and I'm glad I've now read what's held up as the best of the other side because it's a depressing and terrifying mess. I know people who identify as Side B who do a much better job of explaining what it means to them, so I can actively steer people away from this book who are looking for a good example of Side B.

10. Wicked by Gregory Maguire
I hate this book and love the musical on which it's based, and having it read it I can now appreciate even better Stephen Schwartz's genius, knowing that much of what I love about the musical was not in the original source material.

What disliked books are you glad to have read?

This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. Thanks for supporting A Cocoon of Books!

Looking back:
One year ago I was reading: American Street and Hercule Poirot's Christmas
Five years ago I was reading: The Homecoming of Samuel Lake, The Hidden Brain, and Does Jesus Really Love Me?
Ten years ago I was reading: For Whom the Bell Tolls

No comments:

Post a Comment