Monday, June 10, 2019

Ten Books I Hated that Goodreads Loved

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

This week's topic is "unpopular book opinions." I decided to find the ten books where my rating on Goodreads differed the most from the average rating for that book. These all ended up being books I had given 1 star where the average rating was 3.8 or above. Here are my top ten!

1. Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne (Average Rating: 3.85)
This was mind-numbingly boring. They do a lot of walking. There are a lot of outdated scientific discussions. And then they don't even make it to the center of the earth. I'm sure in 1864 it was thrilling, but I can't understand why so many modern readers love it.

2. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris (Average Rating: 3.98)
I did give David Sedaris another chance later on and enjoyed one of his other books, but I spent most of this one cringing. He awkwardly makes fun of himself, he unkindly makes fun of other people, and he describes certain things that are disgusting or disturbing. Not the kind of humor I enjoy.

3. I Am an Emotional Creature by Eve Ensler (Average Rating: 4.01)
I thought this book was frankly terrible. It read like a checklist of issues (eating disorders, abusive relationships, human trafficking, FGM, etc.), for each of which Ensler tried to put herself inside the head of, say, a child factory worker in China with minimal research. The writing wandered and the audience was unclear, unless it is "middle-aged women who think this book would be really great for teens," which seem to be the people rating it highly on Goodreads.

4. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler (Average Rating: 4.01)
I do not understand the appeal of noir fiction or film, full stop. Philip Marlowe is devoid of emotion, and he and the other characters talk in so much slang, sarcasm, and hints I didn't know what they were talking about a good part of the time. Add that together with a lot of murders no one seems to care much about and a bunch of ridiculous female characters, and yeah, not my cup of tea.

5. The World According to Garp by John Irving (Average Rating: 4.08)
This book was so radically different from A Prayer for Owen Meany that I couldn't believe they were by the same author, though evidently plenty of people love both books equally. It's a mess of gratuitous sex and gore and offensive stereotypes mixed in with some attempted commentary on feminism and fame that was too convoluted to follow.

6. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson (Average Rating: 4.08)
Reading about two grown men taking lots of drugs and then causing immense property damage, running up bills they don't pay for, and terrorizing innocent people, told amid a massive amount of racism, sexism, ableism, and homophobia, is not my idea of a good read. Most of the positive reviews I read reference how groundbreaking his particularly style of writing was for the time, which is fine, but what exactly makes it such a must-read for today's readers?

7. A General Theory of Love by Thomas Lewis, Fari Amini, and Richard Lannon (Average Rating: 4.11)
I am genuinely baffled how this book has such high ratings. The writing was overly complex, the authors 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. Maybe people are only reading this if it supports beliefs they already hold about parenting?

8. A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks (Average Rating: 4.16)
Perhaps I'm biased because I saw the movie first, but I thought it was infinitely better than the book. So many of the things I enjoyed about the movie were absent in the book, in which the writing felt flat and the characters unrealistic. But then I don't usually read these kinds of fluffy romantic books anyway, so maybe it's good for people who like the genre.

9. This Star Won't Go Out by Esther Earl (Average Rating: 4.17)
My negative review of this book has more "likes" than any other review I've written on Goodreads, so clearly I'm not alone in my opinion, though I'm outnumbered by all the people rating it highly. My only guess why the ratings are so high is that people primarily picked this up right after it came out if they were Nerdfighters and/or fans of John Green, and so they were predisposed to feel positively about it. I should have been, too, but I was disappointed by the fact that it was just a poorly edited document dump of what could have been the source material for a good book.

10. Love Does by Bob Goff (Average Rating: 4.29)
This is my second-most "liked" review on Goodreads. Many of the things Goff "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.

Which beloved books did you dislike?

Looking back:
One year ago I was reading: The Alienist, Haroun and the Sea of Stories, and Feeling Good
Five years ago I was reading: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, A Fine Balance, and A Suitable Boy
Ten years ago I was reading: Metaphors We Live By

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