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Top 5 books you would not recommend

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HI Legogirl, I totally agree with you about Mr Whicher, I gave up after about 120 pages!

 

 

I didn't give up, but I do agree that it was thoroughly disappointing.  Has put me off reading any of her stuff since.

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Wouldn't recommend:

 

Unbearable lightness of being - Kundera. Awful. Just awful. I could barely remember anything of it immediately upon completion except that it (perhaps) features a couple that didn't like each other. The author then documented and analysed their doomed and depressing relationship with rather questionable pulp-psychology, which seemed rather pretentious and deliberately obtuse. Do not read. Waste of time. Life's too short for rubbish books.

 

Jane Eyre - Bronte. Brilliantly written in typically long, well crafted and beautiful Victorian sentences.Unfortunately, I found the plot lacking and I could not identify with nor connect with the characters. I read Tess of the D'urbervilles shortly afterwards and was struck by the fact that, albeit in worse prose, the story gripped me more completely from start to finish. With Jane Eyre, I marvelled at how it was wrought but unfortunately it did not enchant me at all.

 

Midnight's Children - Rushdie. The only book by Rushdie I have read - although I wouldn't mind reading The Satanic Verses, just to see what the fuss is about. In many ways, I disliked this book for the opposite reason I gave for Jane Eyre. Midnight's Children is an interesting idea with a decent plot, but the writing was not to my taste. I was a fan of the writing style of Rushdie's late friend Christopher Hitchens and thought Rushdie might be similar in style: but it was apples and oranges. Rushdie has none of Hitchen's Orwellian or Swiftian brevity in his sentence construction. His sentences were so convoluted and long, at times, that it took several readings to pin down his intended meaning.

 

Moby Dick - Melville. Just a very hard read, with little gain at the end. The central premise and plot is great but its execution is clumsy and the prose can be leaden at times. Quite regularly, actually. Like the KJ Bible, there are gems hidden within its covers but you have to wade through mountains of literary dirt to find the small diamonds.

Edited by The Bibliophagus Beagle

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The Girls - Emma Cline : It's very hyped right now, but I found it dull and boring. The language is kinda interesting, but the characters are really flat, there is barely any dialog in it and very little plot.
 
Athem - Ayn Rand: I liked We, which has a similar plot in a lot of places, but Rands version is pretty much just pushing her worldview using very leading examples and obviously stupid antagonists to do so. The characters and story itself fall flat and I also found it very misogynistic.
 
The Apple Tart of Hope - Sarah Moore Fitzgerald : Another pretty recent book that also won some kind of price. That one annoyed me. It's YA, but the main characters act like adults all the time. In contrast the main "villain" is so over the top and one dimensional it's not even funny. Mostly I thought the book liked to seem deep and meaningful in it's messages, while actually not dispensing anything but trite drivel.
 
Memories of my melancholy 'ladies of the night' - Gabriel Garcia Marquez: That one I just thought was boring and uninteresting. The whole tone is just without any interest or excitement. The story dribbles by, and I could not care for it at all.

 

Awoken - Serra Elinsen: Admitedly, this is self-published, but it's also one of the worse books I've red. It's pretty much a fanfiction lovestory, with a constantly moaning, overemotional teenager as main character, a plot that's mainly wish-fulfillment and foreseeable and a relationship that's about as unhealthy as 50 Shades of Grey.

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Wouldn't recommend:

 

Jane Eyre - Bronte.

.........

Midnight's Children - Rushdie.

.....

Moby Dick - Melville.

 

 

Well, that's three of those on my all-time favourites list - so I think our tastes may somewhat differ!  (One of the joys of reading, after all!).

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I apparently haven't posted here. Ooooh. I could easily name five terrible thrillers off the top of my head, but where's the fun in that? For now, one in particular that I just finished springs to mind - After Me Comes The Flood - by Sarah Perry. It's got some pretty bad reviews on Goodreads, many of which correctly declare it readable but mindnumbingly boring and pointless, but having loved The Essex Serpent I decided to give it a go. Nope. Do not. I cannot recommend strongly enough that you avoid Flood like the plague.

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I die a little on the inside whenever I read that people didn't like Jane Eyre or mention Austen around here.

 

I'm not sure I could think of 5. As some others have said, I rately finish them if I don't like them:

1. Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. Good god it was dull. I managed to persevere but it was hard going. Felt like nothing actually happened.

2. Lord of the Ring trilogy. I understand why so many people love it, but it was just so loooong! Cutting out the songs and tedious descriptions would have done wonders.

3. The Suspicions of Mr Whicher. Completely unreadable. I managed about 1/4 of it before I had to give up.

I'll come back to 4 and 5!

 

 

For me, the singing and descriptions were what made LOTR great. I re-read the trilogy this year and it was sooooo good. I can't even imagine Tom without his singing or the epic locations without detailed descriptions. Not to mention that there is a point to the singing and descriptions, unlike erm... GRRM where I could barely hold back a yawn every time he described a room. 

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I skim read most of the lists in LOTR and GofT, one thing both authors have in common.  The 3rd LotR book could have done with some editing, imho.

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On 03/12/2009 at 10:06 PM, willoyd said:

I so want to include Jacqueline Wilson in that list, but as that's more to do with work (teaching) and children's literature, I'll leave that be!

I've only just seen this, @willoyd - I'm really curious to know why you say this. :) I haven't read any Jacqueline Wilson books, but I have several friends whose children love them (on friend is a primary school teacher).  Wasn't she the Children's Laureate at some stage too? 

 

Edit:  Gosh - I didn't realise that  your post was so long ago!

 

 

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On 08/05/2017 at 7:49 PM, Janet said:

I've only just seen this, @willoyd - I'm really curious to know why you say this. :) I haven't read any Jacqueline Wilson books, but I have several friends whose children love them (on friend is a primary school teacher).  Wasn't she the Children's Laureate at some stage too? 

Edit:  Gosh - I didn't realise that  your post was so long ago!

 

@Janet : I started writing a detailed reply, and then I found this , which says it all so much better than I ever could!  Hope that explains!

Edited by willoyd

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Replying to Janet's post got me thinking: it's a few years since I put up my top 5 anti-recommendations, so what would my list be now? 

 

Of the five previous nominations, four still stand as definite contenders: Justine (Lawrence Durrell), Homecoming (Bernard Schlinck), Special Topics in Calamity Physics (Marisha Pessl), and Da Vinci Code/Deception Point (Dan Brown).  I've changed my mind on Lord of the Flies, having now got myself to reread it as an adult, and finding it quite a powerful parable.  However, I'm going for a set of completely fresh ones, ones read since that last listing.  So, in no particular order.....

 

The Boy in Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne.  I can't understand this book's popularity.  It's horribly over-sentimental, and totally lacking in credibility on so many fronts, not least the silly 'alternative' names the author uses.  Why on earth, for instance, would a German boy mistake 'Fury' for 'Fuhrer'.  And so on.

 

Divergent by Veronica Roth.  My Duffer of the Year for 2015.  I know I'm not the market she's aiming at, but this is so badly written that it fills me with horror that so many thinks it's so good.  Aside from that, the characters are so thin they're almost transparent, and the plot just doesn't hold together. 

 

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.  Duffer of the Year for 2013.  Thoroughly predictable so-called thriller centred on two equally thoroughly unlikeable individuals, which for some unknown reason seemed to garner almost hysterical approbation, and has led to a rash of similar books, several of which I've tried, none making the slightest positive impact (I'm thinking especially of The Silent Wife and Girl on the Train). 

 

Books by Ben Elton.  Tried various of these several times over the years, and each one has been a disappointment - the last two because they were book group choices (didn't we learn the first time?).  They always look so promising, but the problem is that he just isn't much of a writer IMO.  Much of his stage act relies on shouting at his audience; so do his books it seems.  He does try, but maybe too hard?  Certainly, he needs a really good editor, but doesn't seem to have one.

 

The Circle by Dave Eggers.  I had several possibilities for this last one, but as this is the latest one-star read and the one that triggered off my revisiting books I can't recommend, it's surely the one to finish off with.  The premise is promising, the execution disastrous.  Clumsy one-dimensional characters (especially the central protagonist, Mae, who seems to have absolutely no personality at all), excruciatingly obvious plotting (for instance a mystery character whose identity is painfully obvious), exposition for dialogue, and a range of vocabulary that wouldn't be a credit to a primary pupil.  And, all the way through, I kept wondering if the IT would at any time doing anything but function perfectly.......

 

 

 

Edited by willoyd

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Here are my own Top 5 Stinkers:

 

1.  Mistletoe by Lyn Gardner.  An LGBT Christmas romance, terribly written and cheesily executed.  A seasonal atrocity that went straight in the bin.

 

2.  Hard Times by Charles Dickens.  Grim, gruff, and grisly.  Dank, dark, and depressing.

 

3.  Under the Net by Iris Murdoch.  Cardboard characters, and a plot as stagnant as the darkest swamp water.

 

4.  Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons.  I'd heard that this was a great comic novel and foolishly believed the hype.  I so badly wanted to strangle every character in this book.

 

5.  Whisky Galore by Compton Mackenzie.  See (4) above.  Plus, in this one, THERE'S NO PLOT.  They're desperate for whisky.  They find some whisky.  That's it.  I'd have sent this guy a case on Page 1 and saved him the trouble of writing the rest.

Edited by Onion Budgie

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22 hours ago, willoyd said:

I started writing a detailed reply, and then I found this , which says it all so much better than I ever could!  Hope that explains!

 

Thanks for that :), I never thought about it that way.

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I agree about gone girl; I've deliberately avoided any book that's compared to it since I read it!

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21 hours ago, willoyd said:

Replying to Janet's post got me thinking: it's a few years since I put up my top 5 anti-recommendations, so what would my list be now? 

 

Of the five previous nominations, four still stand as definite contenders: Justine (Lawrence Durrell), Homecoming (Bernard Schlinck), Special Topics in Calamity Physics (Marisha Pessl), and Da Vinci Code/Deception Point (Dan Brown).  I've changed my mind on Lord of the Flies, having now got myself to reread it as an adult, and finding it quite a powerful parable.  However, I'm going for a set of completely fresh ones, ones read since that last listing.  So, in no particular order.....

 

The Boy in Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne.  I can't understand this book's popularity.  It's horribly over-sentimental, and totally lacking in credibility on so many fronts, not least the silly 'alternative' names the author uses.  Why on earth, for instance, would a German boy mistake 'Fury' for 'Fuhrer'.  And so on.

 

Divergent by Veronica Roth.  My Duffer of the Year for 2015.  I know I'm not the market she's aiming at, but this is so badly written that it fills me with horror that so many thinks it's so good.  Aside from that, the characters are so thin they're almost transparent, and the plot just doesn't hold together. 

 

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.  Duffer of the Year for 2013.  Thoroughly predictable so-called thriller centred on two equally thoroughly unlikeable individuals, which for some unknown reason seemed to garner almost hysterical approbation, and has led to a rash of similar books, several of which I've tried, none making the slightest positive impact (I'm thinking especially of The Silent Wife and Girl on the Train). 

 

Books by Ben Elton.  Tried various of these several times over the years, and each one has been a disappointment - the last two because they were book group choices (didn't we learn the first time?).  They always look so promising, but the problem is that he just isn't much of a writer IMO.  Much of his stage act relies on shouting at his audience; so do his books it seems.  He does try, but maybe too hard?  Certainly, he needs a really good editor, but doesn't seem to have one.

 

The Circle by Dave Eggers.  I had several possibilities for this last one, but as this is the latest one-star read and the one that triggered off my revisiting books I can't recommend, it's surely the one to finish off with.  The premise is promising, the execution disastrous.  Clumsy one-dimensional characters (especially the central protagonist, Mae, who seems to have absolutely no personality at all), excruciatingly obvious plotting (for instance a mystery character whose identity is painfully obvious), exposition for dialogue, and a range of vocabulary that wouldn't be a credit to a primary pupil.  And, all the way through, I kept wondering if the IT would at any time doing anything but function perfectly.......

 

 

 

Re Ben Elton, have you read any of his 'serious books'? I read Time and Time Again earlier this year and thought it was very well written and thoroughly enjoyed it.

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I'm another who didn't like Gone Girl.  I only finished because I thought there had to be a great twist somewhere.  No book could be that predictable.

 

Harry Potter,  started the first one with my son.  we both quickly agreed we didn't like it.

 

Dan Brown anything.  The first I finished.  The second was just the first rewritten it seemed.  Gave up on it about halfway through.

 

 

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On 05/06/2017 at 9:19 AM, Athena said:

 

Thanks for that :), I never thought about it that way.

 

My memory of the Girls In Love series (referenced in said Wilson rant) was one girl instantly having to forgive best friend for behaving exceedingly badly with her boyfriend when she hadn't apologised.

 

Girl with ham thighs realised it was ok to have large thighs when another friend went anorexic IIRC.

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Some excellent suggestions so far.

 

How Green Was My Valley - Richard Llewellyn

Don Quixote - Miguel De Cervantes

The Satanic Verses - Salman Rushdie

Mrs Dalloway - Virginia Woolf

The Island of the Day Before - Umberto Eco

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