Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday - Books I Hated, But I'm Glad I Read

"Top Ten Tuesday" is a weekly bookish meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl!

Today's theme for "Top Ten Tuesday" - Books I Hated, But I'm Still Glad I Read - threw me for a bit of a loop. It's a very specific grey area to fall in, in terms of reading criteria: there are plenty of books I'm glad I've read over the course of my life, and there are a sizable amount of books I've hated, but the lines of intersection between those two points are fairly few and far between.

So, instead, I focused in my attention on the reasons behind the list, aka, reasons why we hate, but appreciate. Some because they gave me broader scope of literary comprehension, which I disliked for their content or style, but the reading of which allowed me entrance into further realms of popular discussion. Some, because they allowed me to clarify the reasoning behind what I like and don't like in novels - specifically, the latter - as well as authors, and gave me the opportunity to vocalize that dislike more clearly. And of course, others just to say that I've read them, whether for bragging rights, or just to get people off my back!

Just for clarification purposes, I should note that I purposefully chose not to include books that were completed for a course grade, which is the only reason why John Steinbeck does not make an appearance on this list (as both Of Mice and Men and Grapes of Wrath were assigned in high school, and both were long, arduous slogs that I hated every step of the journey for).

for greater cultural understanding

5071571. Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte 
Okay, remember the rule I just said about no school books? Throw it out for this first installment, as I originally had to read it as a summer project in high school. I originally chalked my dislike of it up to having read it at the wrong time, as it's difficult to place yourself squarely in the middle of the murky moors when it's 80 degrees and shining outside. Upon a later reread, I realized that nope, as it turns out, I just find 90% of the characters in this book morally reprehensible and unworthy of my attention. (However, if I had to confess... I still reread it from time to time. And it gave us that sweet-as-heck Kate Bush song.)

2. The Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Salinger
I still use the term "a total Holden Caulfield" to define pain-in-the-butt high schoolers as a form of shorthand. When my brother was assigned to read this for school, I was terrified he would identify with one of the rare similarly-aged protagonists you encounter in that environment... but good news! I've raised the boy right, and he thinks that Caulfield is a snot-nosed punk, too.
3. You Are a Badass, Jen Sincero 
A recent addition to this list, based on this review published just yesterday morning! While I disliked the book itself and found it highly unhelpful for a self-help book, at least now I'll know what everyone's so hyped-up about.

4. Wicked, Gregory Maguire
How unfair is it that one of the greatest contemporary musicals was based on such a deeply sub-par reading experience? Severe lack of Kristin Chenoweth, 0/10. On the real, though: the two formats of the story find their narrative in ways so disparate and unlike each other, chances are you're only going to like one or the other.

for judging people 

105072935. The Selection series, Kiera Cass
While I consider myself to be a fairly positive person - especially when it comes to books - as well as one who would support others, no matter the differences between their interests and mine - especially when it comes to books - the Selection series was the first YA book series I've ever recalled having more fun dishing about with my friends, than actually reading. That being said, I've also read all of them for that very purpose, so she's the one who's got my money.

6. Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov
"I dislike Jane [Austen], and am prejudiced, in fact, against all women writers. They are all in another class. Could never see anything in Pride and Prejudice." 
2429135Of course, he would later change his tune - after reading, of all things, Mansfield Park - and include Austen in several of his lecture series. This should not distract from the fact that Nabokov was, in my book, a complete twerp, and from what he says in contexts other than this one, a misogynist, and should be regarded with much higher scrutiny, from both a literary and moral context. 

7. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson 
Ditto to the above. Morally and literarily, I cannot get behind anyone who enjoyed this book series. I only made it through the first book due to sheer obstinance alone, and what I read in there was so vivid, the impressions it left still haunt me, and even seeing the book cover alone is now enough to make me curl my lip.

for saying I've read it

109648. Outlander, Diana Gabaldon
Holy cow, is this book beloved by a wide-ranging and strangely incensed group of people, many of whom I'm predominantly convinced have only watched the television show and somehow persuaded themselves they'd made it through this 800-something-page behemoth. I didn't enjoy it, but it checked off a square of a summer library challenge many years ago, and now I can pull out the receipts if fans try to check me on my dislike.

9. A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway
3766Same for the above: this one's all about reading it, only to come to understand more about how I don't like it. To be clear, A Moveable Feast is pretty good. To also be clear, Hemingway is a dipstick of the highest order, and if he were alive today, he'd be the human embodiment of a Bud Light that spilled on a wooden floor three days ago and no one thought to clean up.

10. On the Road, Jack Kerouac
In college, I had a friend who was absolutely incensed by the Beat and counter-culture writer's generation, and as a means of trying to relate, I decided to read Kerouac. The result was confused, messy, and boring. But at least I could tell my friend exactly why I didn't like it!

What's on your Top Ten? Let me know, in the comments below!


  1. The Selection made my list too! Great list 😊

    My TTT: https://rockyreads.wordpress.com/2018/05/15/top-ten-tuesday-8-books-im-really-glad-i-read/

  2. Oh my god, Outlander! That series is everywhere and the hype alone is enough to make me give it a pass. I'm sure the first book is fine as time-travel romance goes, but then she drags it on and on and introduces crazy complications and whoops they're in the south pacific now and I just can't. I need my plots to be linear. It would be worth reading the first one just so I can make fun of it knowledgeably.

  3. Ooh interesting twist on this week's topic!
    My TTT: https://jjbookblog.wordpress.com/2018/05/15/top-ten-tuesday-159/

  4. On the Road has been on my TBR for an eternity... I'd like to also say I read this some day but it's not high on my priority list that's for sure.