What’s the worst book you have ever read?
Dan Brown’s Digital Fortress. It’s the Plan 9 from Outer Space of literature.
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And I’m using “literature” here very, very loosely.
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Atlas Shrugged would probably be on there. A chore and a bore.
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Definitely Atlas Shrugged. I tried, but simply could not finish the book.
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At the bookstore the other day, I hid a stack of copies of The Fountainhead underneath Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals. I thought this would tick off Ayn Rand and make sure nobody bought the book. Double guarantee!
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Back when I was A teenager I was really into Tom Clancy. I made the mistake of reading a couple of his “Op-Center” books.
They were terrible, and it turns out they were ghost written anyway by a guy named Jeff Rovin.
Want to see some real trash literature? Check out his wiki page.
Highlights include the novelization of “Mortal Combat” (the video game), novelization of “Cliffhanger” (the Sylvester Stalone movie), and something called “Force Five”.
Fox Force Five?
A trifle called “01-01-00″ by R.J.Pinero. Here’s my (short) review on Amazon, one of only two times I’ve been prompted to review a book on Amazon. If I prevented even one person from reading this book, it was worth it…
The Bible… Talk about a preachy book! Everyone’s a sinner…
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Except this guy!
Wicked. Ohhh what a horrible book! I muddled through that damn story off & on for months. It became somewhat of a quest to finish it.
I liked Wicked and several other of Maguire’s books, but when I got to Son of a Witch, I tore that book in half and ate the pieces. Then I puked them up because it’s poison.
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I also tried Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, thinking “this one HAS to be better!”, but nope
I hate to say it but Catch 22 put me to sleep. I really wanted to love it I wear but I just couldn’t focus on it when I was reading it. So I gave up.
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Same here– I tried it several times.
Really? I read it in English (I’m a native speaker of Dutch) when I was seventeen and I loved it.
Thanks for making me feel smart.
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I cannot in good conscience name the book, since I once dated the author. It was a young-adult novel in a well-known fantasy series. It was terrible. Just… awful, even for a young-adult novel. But I held my tongue because of… things.
Somewhere in my bookshelf is an autographed copy.
By the way, I won’t even go near modern mainstream stuff like Twilight or Dan Brown or the Grey series so I can’t exactly say that I hated reading them. I pretty much hate even seeing them on a shelf or being near someone who enjoyed them.
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Who Moved My Cheese.
Dreadful, simply dreadful.
Our Tragic Universe by Scarlet Thomas. I really enjoyed The End of Mr Y, so I thought OTU would be a good read. No. Around three quarters of the way through I should have realised nothing was going to happen, but based on the potential I carried on. Mistake. Nothing happens. At all.
Also, she seems to love homeopathy.
Moby Dick: It’s always near the top of the ‘greatest books ever written’, but after 100 pages I put it down. So, so boring and tedious. Or maybe I’m not smart enough to ‘get’ it. Either way…
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It’s all downhill after chap 95. In this chapter, the men cut off the whale’s giant jet-black penis, skin it, and turn the skin into a sleeveless robe for the sailor called the “mincer” to wear.
Electro Boy. I am not convinced he was manic depressive. Everything in the book points to him being a run of the mill narcissist, he just found a good, clinical excuse for his behavior. I may be wrong, but the book only convinced me he was willing to con everyone around him. People actually have legitimate mental problems, and they do not need selfish scumbags lumping themselves in with them.
“The Pillars of the Earth.” Engaging subject matter with some of the most boring, insipid writing imaginable.
That was a book I had to just slog my way through to finish, even though I didn’t like it.
I rarely don’t finish books but Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell was such a plod that I threw it on the giveaway pile after trudging through two-thirds of it. Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code was so poorly written, with its peanut deus ex machina peanut allergy, that I threw it across the room. Thomas Harris’ Hannibal was so insulting of its audience, with its gratuitous violence and Starling getting all cozy with Lector, that I threw it away.
“The Celestine Prophecy” and “The Da Vinci Code” were just terrible, but I actually made it through both of them.
I could only get through about 20 pages of “Twilight” so I guess it “wins”.
i must say–i hated dharma bums by kerouac.
I couldn’t get into that either.
The three books I have hurled against the wall, hoping to destroy them, in order of the hurling:
1. Lord of the Rings
2. Atlas Shrugged
3. The Lost World (Crichton)
The Hobbit. Four hundred pages describing toes and a cave.
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LOL! I actually liked The Hobbit but this is just a great synopsis of it.
I hated just about every page of the French Lieutenant’s Woman.
Ooh, this is a hard one. It’s a toss-up between “Twilight” and “The Da Vinci Code.”
I thought about it for a while, and then some dark and horrible repressed memory burst forth. Jonathan Livingston Seagull.
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Yeah that one was kind of dumb, but so was trying to make a 11 year old read it back in the 1970s.
I never finished “The Picture of Dorian Gray.” I got about 100 pages into it and it was just people sitting around talking, along with narrations of what they’re doing while sitting around talking.
I also started a book of short stories by Kafka. After the third story it just seemed like torture porn in book form; disturbing vulgarity just for the sake of being disturbingly vulgar. That man was seriously broken upstairs.
I loved Dorian Gray enough that I made it my Halloween costume last year. We are now enemies, sorry.
That costume is genius.
What Kafka did you read? I read The Trial and Metamorphosis.
Most people seem to think The Trial is about government bureaucracy but you’ll notice that no one in the story was a real government official other than the cop at the end who tried to question the fake cops before they ran off. The Trial is about how the people around you will judge and condemn you unfairly and while you may laugh it off at first it will eventually destroy you and nothing you do can stop it.
Metamorphosis is the same idea only with your direct family. Even the family embers who depend on your hard work or are trying to like you, will stigmatize you and eventually be relieved you’re gone. I get the feeling that Kafka was caught having sex with a little kid, a man or a sheep or something. Seriously.
MacCrocodile – what did the costume consist of, your face painted differently on each side? Maybe a picture frame mounted around your head for effect?
MadRat – The first story was “Metamorphosis.” Very sad and depressing. The second was “The Penal Colony”, about a machine that carves the names of the crimes committed into a convict’s skin until he dies. I don’t remember anything about the third story I read (this was a few years ago) – I probably didn’t finish it.
Halloween was on a Monday, which meant work. I dressed up real nice, shaved (for the last time in a good long while), and I changed my ID badge to say Dorian Gray and replaced the photo with a cropped version of this:
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I loved Dorian Gray. Wilde is always worth a look. And Kafka’s wtf-ing is brilliant, though granted, it’s not easy to get into.
The Crystal Star – a Star Wars EU novel written by Vonda McIntyer who did some of the novelizations for Star Trek movies, I made it one chapter and tossed it, it was Star Trek-ish stuff with Star Wars names, just trash.
A couple of my ‘work’ books are near the top of the list though, Leading Change, Five Dysfunctions, etc, all those ‘team building’ books are bores.
Yann Martel’s Beatrice and Virgil is just awful and is full of so much pretense. It’s obvious Martel thinks he is writing serious literature, but it’s just horrible.
Aimee Bender’s The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake is my other contender for worst book I have ever read. It’s an unbelievably stupid story told in artless prose that, again, aspires to be serious literature.
Perdido Street Station by China Mieville. My first and last attempt at reading anything by him. I didn’t get very far. To put it kindly, I was not a fan of his writing style.
I gave up on him after trying to read Kraken.
Tha Celestine Prophecy, hands down
I cannot imagine anyone being able to take that book seiously…
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.
I know it is not a novel, but it is the worst book I have read. I use to work with kids and it was bought for my classroom. I read it once and vowed to never read it to a child again. Then my boss happened to order the audio book version. I had to use it once, but once was all.
To Rev. PauL – Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is actually pretty amazing when you first read it as a child. I first read it when I was very, very young and I absolutely loved it. There are some kids’ books/shows/movies I absolutely abhor, but I realize that an adult really can’t accurately judge something designed for children since the perspective of an adult is so wildly different than that of a child (unless you have some moral or thematic objections to the book that I’m unaware of, like resenting the promotion of racism or overt political rhetoric or something, and are not just assessing it artistically).
I’m not big on reading (and I guess I’m supposed to feel awful or deficient as a person about that), and I especially don’t have a rule about finishing a book even if it’s terrible. I try to say, it’s not the book, it’s me, because I’m not used to reading, but I cut bait. I have finished and liked and read books, though, just not voraciously! If I finished a book, I probably liked it. The farthest I have gotten in a book I didn’t finish, didn’t like, didn’t care where it was going or how it would end, was approx. 100 pgs. in The Glass Bead Game, TWICE. The shortest I’ve read a book and decided I hated it already was pg. 2 of The Catcher in the Rye.
Tried to chew on Pynchon a couple of times and had to put down my fork. Much too rich for my taste. I’m more into a sweet dessert like Dan Brownies.
ONE DAY I WILL READ GRAVITY’S RAINBOW.
Until then, if you want the bragging rights on having read Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49 is manageable.
It’s hard to pick a worst, mostly they were books that turned out to be too long.
Atlas Shrugged came to mind first. I always seem to end up defending this book even though I don’t like it and disagree with it. The worst part is when you get to page 300 and think, “Hey cool! Let’s see how far… into… it…” and realize you’re only a third of the way through. Moby Dick had the same problem, especially with who knows how many pseud -scientific chapters devoted to why a whale is a fish and not a mammal. Kite Runner wasn’t long, poorly written or difficult to read but very hard to finish do to the violence and gay, child rape. The stories in The Old Testament of The Bible were entertaining. While I did finish it The Old Testament was hard getting through the census records, animal sacrifice manual, temple blue prints and arcane language. The Koran (or however it’s being spelled this week) lacked stories like The Bible but retains all the preachiness and every chapter includes at least one mention of how God will destroy the Unbelievers.
But I think the “winner” would be Mein Kampf. You’d think this book would have something exciting or at least would help you understand the mind of Adolf Hitler but no. It’s a well written yet exceptionally irrelevant, current events book, that is if 1930s Austrian politics is what you consider corrent events. That and it suffers from the same get-to-page-300-and-not-half-done syndrome that Atlas Shrugged suffers from as well.
Anything from Douglas Adams. I can’t judge if the books as not being good per se, I just didn’t had any fun reading them. His sarcasm simply doesn’t hit my vein.
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You forgot where your towel was, didn’t you?
The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Makes me aggravated just remembering it.
Alas, Babylon the lamest apocalyptic novel ever in which the only threat posed by a nuclear war is being harassed by a gang of “highwaymen” who are no more threatening than the Hot Cops from Arrested Development.
It was 1959 and the author decided to concentrate on the consequences of getting unplugged from the industrial/technological networks of the time. Harsher stuff might very well not have been publishable/distributable by the majors then.
Perhaps, but what does that say about the author as an artist? If he censors himself in order to publish via major publishing houses, he is a man who favors making money over writing a realistic novel. Also the pervasive sexism and racism throughout the book makes it kind of unreadable. (That’s just my opinion)
A friend passed along a copy of Left Behind years ago while I was living in CO and people all around me were just going gaga over it like it was the next installment of the bible.
What was all the fuss? I started to read. What a load of poorly written crap. People actually finished it? And it was actually a series?
The only solution was to hand the book back, unfinished, and move far away.
The book I enjoyed the least was Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum. I read two of his other novels, and loved those, but this one? Boring as a very boring thing. Haven’t had the guts to try anything else by him ever since.
The worst book was probably Christopher Paolini’s Brisingr.The first part in the trilogy was entertaining enough for a piece of glorified Lord of the Rings/Star Wars with dragons fanfiction, the second was kinda ‘meh’, but hey, now that I’m almost done with the trilogy I want to know how it ends, so lets read the last one as well. And mr writer-boy goes, “hey, I got so many plotlines I need to round up, I’m going to need another book to finish it.” And his publishers smell the money and green-light it. Ergo: less than nothing relevant happens in part 3. If a series ever needed a rewrite and a good editor, it’s Paolini’s Inheritance-cycle.
Whoa, Eragon, what a sad sack of crap that book is. Granted the author was 14 or something when he wrote it but if ever a book with some mild potential needed a firm editing hand, that was it. My early-teen son loved it, recommended it to me, and then made the mistake of asking me what I thought. I was kind and held back a lot of my criticism.
Having not read the sequels, I cannot say whether Paolini indulges in the Magic Distances cliche in the following books. You know, where everything is 10 miles, 100 miles, 1000 miles away…
The Unbearable Lightness of Being. More like the Unbearable Shiteness of Typing One-Handed.
The worst book I ever _finished_ was _The Atlantic Abomination_ by John Brunner. Possibly the worst SF ever published by Ace Books. Juvenile prose in a juvenile style with one-dimensional characters. Ugh.
Currently, I’m struggling with MIchael Connelly’s _The Scarecrow_. I’ve been trying to finish this for 2 years. Why? Because the author alternates between first-person chapters and third-person chapters. I positively DESPISE this mix of grammatical person. It’s jarring; it doesn’t work; it indicates sloth on the part of the writer. Yet I want to finish it because all of his tales are at least mildly interlinked and I _like_ the Harry Bosch series. Pfffft.
The phone book. Just a bunch of character references. They even had the nerve to put a bunch of ads in the middle.
Any of the Dietel and Dietel textbooks – shallow coverage, size bloated by full code listings of poorly crafted and badly formatted example programs. Save both your money and your brain and give ‘em a miss.
This is, without a doubt, the worst book ever – Scientology: The Fundamentals of Thought. I made an attempt once to understand why everyone makes fun of Scientologists – I got about 20 pages in and realized it’s because they’re absolutely absurd.
It’s tough to say. I have a hard and fast “200 page” rule. If the author hasn’t piqued my interest by page 201, no matter how great the recommendation or review, I simply put it down. I suppose the last book I made through that I considered pretty awful would be “Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline. It’s got some neat concepts, but the writing is high school level at best.
The Sound and the Fury
The worst are forgotten but as I expect more from Dean Koontz his book Ticktock was pretty god damned awful.
Voodoo doll nonsense.
Next book related question: What book resulted in a jarring emotional response from you?
The Two Georges by Harry Turtledove and Richard “Matt Hooper” Dreyfus. Oh man, that was bad. This was way back when I was really into alternate history novels.
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