My Worst Best Books

“What’s the worst ‘best’ book you’ve ever read — the one everyone says is so great, but you can’t figure out why?” That is the question from today’s Booking Through Thursday and I could instantly think of one and that would have to be Twilight which though no one I knew was loving most of the UK population seemed to be joining in with that whole bandwagon and that included me. I thought it was overly long repetitive and didn’t really have any likeable characters. I also got very bored with the whole ‘I love him but he’s dangerous’ that seemed to be repeated twice every page.

However if I am talking about books I have been recommended by lots and lots of people I know and would generally say I trust in terms of great reading guidance I think I have four main contenders, actually no, I have five books I could put forward for you. All of them have been described as being ‘very me’ and though bar one I have finished them all they have left me completely cold. The one I didn’t finish and therefore have promised several people I will re-read this year is We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. Hated the writing style, was bored and then someone told me the ending which I am hoping I have forgotten! I was also just generally a bit bored with it.

Second on my hit list would have to be The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. Even I thought I would love this book as I am a big fan of dark gothic spooky tales but this left me cold, one part made me jump admittedly but the rest I thought was a bit dull, Novel Insights read this with me at the time and agreed. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D Salinger was another book loads of people told me I should read. I have never disliked a lead character more and I know you shouldn’t like all characters but when all they do is moan, lie and fantasise you come away bored. Fourth would be The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, found it very confusing and then the ending just completely let me down!

Now for the fifth and final book which I am sure will cause uproar for some people when I say this but it has to be Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. The leads are two of the most selfish vile characters written and in an overlong and quite dull narrative, totally boring. I couldn’t wait for the end of both of them and the end of the book. There I have said it. Sorry if that shocks you but seriously I was so disappointed. Having been to Haworth and walking to the farm that caused the inspiration for the book and walking the moors I thought I would love it… no!

I do love being recommended books though. I would never have read The Book Thief so early on if it hadn’t been raved about by my friend Danielle. I would never have dipped into Daphne Du Maurier if three people hadn’t told me Rebecca was one of the best books ever written, in fact I would have missed a fair few of my favourites (The Woman in White, Brideshead Revisited, Lady Audley’s Secret, To Kill A Mockingbird) if they hadn’t been recommended to me so fervently.

I am trying to think of books I have recently been recommended. Simon at Stuck in a Book has told me I must read Alice in Wonderland so will be giving that a go soon and reporting back and indeed I have promised Dovegreyreader I shall try We Need To Talk About Kevin once more. I will report back on those! What books would you recommend I read? What are the worst best books you’ve read?



Filed under Emily Bronte, Henry James, J. D. Salinger, Joseph Conrad, Lionel Shriver

21 responses to “My Worst Best Books

  1. Blodeuedd

    Haven’t tried those yet, what is up with all these classics people rave about, but then they just fail you.

    Mine is up, and it’s a classic

  2. janet

    You know, I like Wuthering Heights, but I agree with everything you say about it… Somehow it got under my skin anyway.

    I agree with you — I love book recommendations.

  3. Yvonne

    Twilight seems to be on many lists today. I think that’s a series that will be languishing in my TBR for awhile. LOL

  4. Mary

    I enjoyed your post. It’s what I love most about book blogs – varied tastes and all. I agree about ‘Catcher’! Good luck with ‘Kevin’. I’ve seen the film Rebecca and now I’m adding the book to my TBR list. You’re not the first to mention it to me!

  5. farmlanebooks

    I think that to fully appreciate ‘We Need to Talk about Kevin’ you need to be a parent, and I hope I’m right in assuming that you are not one. I have seen a few bad reviews for Kevin – all coming from people without children. Many of the conflicted emotions that you feel as a parent are summed up better in this book than any other I’ve read. I would recommend that you don’t try re-reading this book until you have children of your own.

    I agree with you on Wuthering Heights, annoying characters, dull, slow plot = terrible book.

    I’m planning to read Heart of Darkness and Cather in the Rye soon, so I’ll let you know what I think about them then!

    I think I’ll move Rebecca up the TBR stack too!

  6. Jess

    Oh, I loved Withering Heights! I know everyone is evil and terrible in the book, but it is the madness that makes them interesting.

  7. Laza

    I absolutely agree with you on Heart of Darkness. I’ve read it three times now, for classes, and I seriously HATE it. I just don’t get it.

    I liked Wuthering Heights on the second and third readings (also for classes). The first time, I definitely didn’t get it.

    I was sort of blah over Catcher in the Rye. It wasn’t terrible but, I didn’t get the hype.

  8. Monique

    I agree with you on both “Twilight” and “The Catcher in the Rye”. I haven’t read the other books. But my roommate read “We Need To Talk ABout Kevin” and enjoyed it. It is nice to have a second viewpoint.

  9. Melissa - Shhh I'm Reading

    I have We Need to Talk About Kevin on my shelves, and haven’t read any of your other picks.

  10. Jeane

    I really did like The Catcher in the Rye, but all those other titles you named I’ve felt indifferent about, or not read (or don’t want to).

  11. gautami tripathy

    I like Wuthering Heights. The evil shown there is veery interesting. Heathcliff was the first anti-hero created in any fiction or novel of those times.

    Twilight series I have not tried and not going to try either.

    THanks for visiting me.

  12. claire

    I love Wuthering Heights, but I think the reason why I do is because I first read it when I was really young (fifth grade) and it’s one of those things that give me a sense of my childhood (and the passion that accompanies it). In other words, I love it maybe more for the sentimental value. I also liked the first part of Heart of Darkness, and I liked The Catcher in the Rye, but not overly loved it. Rebecca and The Book Thief are on my TBR pile. I have no desire to read Twilight. And, yes, I hope you do read Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. Recommendations, hm.. What is the What by Dave Eggers. 😀

  13. Sandy Nawrot

    Wuthering Heights was…interesting. I did not love it, but I guess I appreciated it for the way the author made me hate the characters. It will be awhile before I read it again! I really liked Twilight, but the books that came after were a huge letdown.

  14. Kris

    I just finished a re-read of Wuthering Heights a month ago, with my initial read of it probably a year or so after high school. I loved it back then, but after this re-read,I had to re-rate from a 5 to a 3. I don’t necessarily hate it now. I think back then I saw Catherine and Heathcliff in a different light. But now, I agree with your assessment that they’re both selfish, I wanted both of them to just disappear already lol

    The Heart of Darkness was a little too dark for me I think to truly understand it when I had to read it in high school. Will have to re-read this one as well. I just remember a river and someone named Kurtz?

    The Woman in White is on my TBR list. Only heard of it recently but it sounds like a good read.

  15. mattviews

    The indie recommends We Need to Talk about Kevin to me but I haven’t read it. I never understood the hype about The Catch in the Rye.

    My pick for this week is Da Vinci Code. It doesn’t have any competitor. The literary blunders and infelicities just confound me.

  16. purplg8r

    My answer was Wuthering Heights too…I just couldn’t get into it!

  17. Juxtabook

    As someone says above Wuthering h. is a book best read when you’re in your teens. I think bits of it can stay with you then. It is clever and well written but not a patch on Jane Eyre. I have always felt WH was over-rated (and am relieved I am not alone!) and that Anne’s work was under-rated, especially The Tennant of Wild Fell Hall.

    I am not an admirer of Heart of Darkness Nor The Catcher in the Rye either.

  18. avisannschild

    I’m with you on The Catcher in the Rye (couldn’t finish it) and I loathed Heart of Darkness (those rivets! and the horror!). I had to read it for school and didn’t really understand the point of it.

  19. Leon Wing

    At last! i’m not the only one who cannot stand reading Lionel Shriver. I haven’t read we Need to Talk about Kevin, I went straight to her The Post Birthday Book. God, she can write – yes, for a term paper for her favorite professor. She goes on and on, in her sentences, without coming to some conclusion: the words keep on going on, and on, an on. I stopped reading less than half-way through the book. Luckily, I didn’t purchase the book, just borrowed it from the library.

  20. Sarah

    Having tried We need to talk about Kevin and Double Fault, I’ve decided Shrver just isn’t for me. I think she writes “issues” fiction with many ideas to discuss but her style just don’t connect with me. I still remember one terrible sex scence in Double Fault for example, which seriously uses the phrase “instrument of their mending.” Ugh!

    I love Wuthering Heights as a gothic masterpiece, which isn’t to say I approve of Cathy and Heathcliffe’s actions.

    I’m shocked you haven’t read Alice before, and would second Simon’s recommendation. A magical book unlike any other.

  21. anothercookiecrumbles

    I liked We Need To Talk About Kevin – think it was an interesting concept, and Shriver did a fairly good job in making it interesting.

    As for Catcher in the Rye – it’s one of my all-time favorite books. I read it about thrice a year (at the very least), and have about three copies! Holden Caulfield is a hypocrite, a liar, and someone who seems to just be wasting his life away. However, I couldn’t help but love the bits where he interacts with his sister, or where he explains the title: ‘Catcher In The Rye’. And the more I read it, the more I like Caulfield… I don’t know why.

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