7.10.2012

Books I Wish I Would Have Skipped


Life is too short to read mediocre books. The list below details the ones that felt like a waste of time to me. Like many things, literary tastes vary among everyone; I am not insinuating these books hold no literary merit or are poorly written, rather I felt that I didn't get much out of them at the time when I read them. I know there are a handful of books on the list that are widely read and greatly enjoyed by many readers, I just wasn't one of them.

The Alchemist / Paulo Coelho: Put simply, I personally believe this to be the most overrated book in existence.

The School of Essential Ingredients / Erica Bauermeister: The book details the inner-workings of a cooking class, briefly delving into the lives and history of each student, with a focus on the cooking instructor. While certain phrases and ideas shined through every now and then, overall I found the story to be blunt and lacking depth. The characters felt contrived and everything wrapped up a little too neatly for my taste.

The Secret of Lost Things / Sheridan Hay:
I found this book on Flashlight Worthy's list of Literary Thrillers for Book Lovers. Well, it was less literary than I'd hoped, and the "thriller" was more of a subdued mystery that detailed a long lost Melville manuscript. While the book-lover in me liked the details of the novel and its incorporation of all things bookish, I thought that the overall story was lacking.

The Weird Sisters / Eleanor Brown: I had high hopes for this but mostly I just felt disconnected from the characters and their struggles while reading this book; I wasn't invested or engaged.
Also, the first person plural point of view just did not work. I'm not against it if done correctly (ieThen We Came to the End) but there were too many instances where Brown's sentences made me cringe.

The Magicians / Lev Grossman: I felt like this was a Harry Potter wannabe poorly executed. There I said it.

Pamela: Or, Virtue Rewarded / Samuel Richardson: I know this one is considered to have a whole lot of literary merit but I found the majority of it plain ole BORING with a misogynistic cherry on top.

Sugar In My Bowl / Erica Jong: There was a serious lack of diversity in this collection of essays and many of them felt inauthentic and a bit campy.

She's Come Undone / Wally Lamb: This one was a DNF so maybe it's unfair to put it on this list, but the list itself is pretty unfair so there - story line was lacking and writing was just okay. Mostly the book felt like one big cliche. If you're going to write about someone's big fat depressing life, at least make it worthwhile and interesting to read about, multidimensional even.

The Guernsery Literary and Potato Peel Society / Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows: For me, the epistolary format seemed contrived and the vivacious tone wasn't realistic. As far as WWII novels go, the characters were quite upbeat and cheery compared to most. Overall, the novel felt flat.

The Da Vinci Code / Dan Brown: A pseudo-intellectual page-turner that is pretty much as cookie cutter as they come.

What would be on your list? Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

46 comments:

  1. I think Lev Grossman must've died of an ego rip :)

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    1. I don't know there are a lot of people out there who really like him and were super pumped for his follow up to the Magicians.

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  2. Oh and cutest.post.pic.ever?

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    1. Aww I know, right? I love him <3

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  3. Can't argue with The Magicians or The Da Vinci Code. In Dan Brown's defence, however, he did 'create' a sub-genre that other authors have adopted . . . and done a much better job. :)

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    1. sally, you make a good point. Though I haven't read any of these other books in the sub-genre he created.

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  4. Oh my gosh, Pamela is like the most overrated thing EVER! EVER! I totally would have skipped it if I hadn't had to read it for a unit at University. Just... *shudder*. Also, oh nooo re: The Alchemist! I bought it a little while ago, so I hope I like it better than you did! :s

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    1. I hope you like it more than me too! Also, I'm glad we can both agree on Pamela :)

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  5. I've avoided The Weird Sisters because of your review. Also your Magicians and Alchemist descriptions: hilarious.

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    1. I always feel kind of bad deterring people away from books but The Weird Sisters really just not good.

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  6. I gave The Da Vinci code two chances- the farthest I ever got was chapter 10, and that took so much out of me. Finally, I decided I just simple didn't want to put any of my time into it. Ugh, the "prose"...Completely overrated, in my opinion.
    The Alchemist- I agree with you.
    I just finished reading "The Five People You Meet in Heaven" by Mitch Albom and I felt the same way as I did with The Alchemist.

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    1. I forgot about The Five People you Meet in Heaven! However I read that when I was young, like 13 or 14 maybe? I remember I liked it at the time but I'm sure I would feel different today.

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  7. Wow, I haven't read any of these but some of them are on my TBR-List! Looks like I'll just have to skip them then! Great list!(:

    ~Keertana
    Ivy Book Bindings

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    1. Good luck with those on the TBR!

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  8. I am very glad to say I have only read one - The Da Vinci Code - which I kinda had to read for my work. I have been fighting against trying The Alchemist for years and I am 99.9% sure I will hate and detest it. Thanks for validating my opinion!

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    1. I mean you can read The Alchemist in one day I'm sure, so if you are curious you could always give it a shot! Even if you find it to be a waste of time, at least it won't be wasting too much time. :)

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  9. Ha! I totally agree with The Alchemist. So overrated. I first read She's Come Undone when I was 14 and loved it. I reread it last year and was so overly annoyed by how unlikable the main character was and didn't enjoy the book at all.

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    1. Oh man. You know what, I could see my 14-year-old self loving She's Come Undone. :)

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  10. I read the Weird Sisters recently and had the same disconnected reaction. I wanted to love it for all the Shakespeare quotes and the quirkiness, and I kept reading thinking that would happen... and then it was finished. The Magicians is currently on to read my shelf - hmmmm.

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    1. To make you feel better there are a lot of people who like the Magicians a lot! You could always give it a shot and if you don't like it after 100 pages, pass for something else.

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  11. Dan Brown books are my guilty pleasure - I know they are bad, but I just love them!

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    1. Hey there is nothing wrong with that! I've got my guilty pleasure books too - mostly the Number One Ladies Detective Series :)

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  12. I skipped The Alchemist and The Magicians so it is good to know I didn't miss much by not completing them. I actually enjoyed The Da Vinchy Code, but can see why others didn't. Interesting list :-)

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    1. Thanks, Jackie! I feel a little bad bashing all these books all at once, but I figured I've done SO many positive books lists, one negative one isn't so bad. :)

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  13. I absolutely loved the Guernsey book! I read The Alchemist but didn't think it lived up to the hype. And I've heard great things about The Magicians and am even planning to read it...although now I'm kind of thinking maybe it's not all that...

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    1. Give it a shot! You never know if you'll like or not until you do.

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  14. Haha, I couldn't get through the Alchemist either. Agree that it's definitely overrated. However, I did love the Guernsey book. It isn't on my list of favorites but I enjoyed it for what it was, a lighthearted little book.

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    1. I think the case with Guernsey and me may have been that I read it at the wrong time. Maybe if I had been in the mood for something a little lighter I would have appreciated it more, but I went in thinking it was more about war than it really was, if that makes sense.

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  15. The Shack was the most painful read ever. I used to feel the need to finish everything I started (hence finishing The Shack), but now I've decided that life's too short to read bad books. So essentially I do skip the bad ones...after 100 pages or so.

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    1. Oh thanks for the heads up! I'll avoid that one!

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  16. Great topic for a list even if it's 'not so nice'!

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    1. Oh thanks! As I mentioned above, I feel bad bashing all these books, but I've been positive about SO many more that I feel like it's justified :)

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  17. I avoided The Magicians because it was so hyped and I started seeing bad reviews. Also, you're reading The Prisoner of Heaven right now! I just finished it, can't wait ot hear your thoughts.

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    1. I am almost finished with The Prisoner of Heaven and I DON'T WANT IT TO END!

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  18. I've had The Alchemist sitting on my nightstand for a few weeks now, but never got around to picking it up. Will have to reconsider if it's really in the TBR list of me
    The comment on Sugar in My Bowl was valid--while I really liked some of the essays, the quality throughout was really inconsistent.
    I was pretty underwhelmed by Swamplandia! (dang, how can I even say that with that wonderful exclamation point?) The various points of the story seemed to come together in this pretty haphazard way at the end that certainly wasn't satisfying by any means.

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    1. I read so many mixed reviews on Swampandia! that I ended up avoiding it altogether. Of the bloggers who I think have similar reading tastes to mine, they mostly had negative reviews as well.

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  19. Oh man, Pamela. I've tried to read it all the way through twice. I've never made it. There are some gems though. That bull in the pasture scene is the most memorable. I am pretty over books like The Alchemist (obvious philosophical allegories) and it wasn't my favorite when I did enjoy that genre.

    I agree with Ben about the cuteness of the picture.

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  20. I agree with many of these. Some I've started and disliked so much I set them aside.

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  21. I completely agree that "life is too short to read mediocre books." I don't have an obsession to finish books that just don't keep me engaged. Needless to say I have quite a few books that are unfinished :)

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  22. Thank you - The Alchemist is a turgid pile of faux-spiritual clap trap. How anyone can actually have enjoyed the thing is anathema to me.

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  23. I freely admit that my 38 yo (at the time) MALE self, loved She's Come Undone.

    I have the Alchemist...but never read it, because I read Veronika Decides to Die first and hated Coelho's lack of subtlety.

    Never read any of your others...

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  24. The Alchemist... my god, yes. Absolute tripe.

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  25. I actually LOVED The Weird Sisters. But I gave up on The Alchemist after about 50 pages.

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  26. Hmmm. In the midst of getting rid of books I think I'll never read, to assuage my guilt at having so many I haven't yet, I will take a second look at the School of Essential Ingredients. I loved the idea of disparate characters meeting in one place and interacting, but your criticisms, especially seeing as we have similar taste, are a turn-off. They're not really subjective criticisms to which I could say, meh, I'll see if I feel the same way...

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  27. What!? You wish you never read Pamela? Kidding. I just wanted to punch Pamela the whole time I was reading it. The girl has got a major case of Stockholm syndrome or something.

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  28. I totally agree on The Alchemist. I read it twice, hoping to "get" it the second time through. No luck.

    I actually did like The Magicians, though (and the sequel). Grossman draws a lot from previous fantasy works - Harry Potter included, but lots of others, too - but a lot of fantasy books are similar in that regard. And I thought he executed it well!

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