There's always a few of them, right? Take Old Man and the Sea, for instance; I've never read anything so droll and repetitive in my life, but there are so many out there who speak of how affected they were by Hemmingway's "masterpiece". Ug. I've heard other people blast Cormac McCarthy's The Road as being one of the most depressing and pointless books ever---I personally enjoyed it, but I can totally see where some of its detractors are coming from.
What's on your literary trash heap?
I suspected "The Da Vinci Code" (sorry, my italics aren't working) from the time it was being announced, but everyone around me made such a fuss about it that I decided to give it a chance. I first read it in Spanish, was appalled at the clumsiness of the language and, shame on me, blamed the translation. Then I gave it a second chance in English and mentally apologized to the translator. The other thing I hated was that, amid a cloak-and-dagger plot, Brown introduced a "revolutionary" theory that has, in fact, been seriously discussed by scholars for longer than I can remember. He may have written/may still write better books, but once bitten, twice shy. No more Dan Brown for me. There is so much to read and so little time!
What a great question. I empathize with my students who don't like to read because--even though I love to read--the second somebody tells me I have to read a book, I immediately don't want to read it. It was really difficult to get through college as an English major!
One book that I really don't like that most other people absolutely love (and I'm already cringing, waiting for "how dare yous") is To Kill a Mockingbird. I know, I know--it's a great coming of age story and reflects a time when we were stupid and ignorant and deals with justice vs. injustice. Yeah. Sure. I get it. But I don't want to read it! And kids today don't relate to the story. It only makes them feel guilty for how their grandparents and great-grandparents behaved. I'd prefer to read something that reflects how we did do the right thing!
My least favorite book of all time is On The Road by Kerouac. Maybe I'm too young to fully grasp or appreciate the Beat Generation, but I found this book a meandering, pointless load of drivel. I for the life of me cannot understand the attraction to this book. But hey, one man's trash is another's treasure, right? To each their own. I probably love some stuff that others would laugh at.
On a lesser level of detest, I'm also not much of a Steinbeck fan. I find him too wordy and just not that interesting. The Winter of Our Discontent stands out as a painful memory in pleasure reading.
I have SO enjoyed reading all of these posts! It made me feel as though I am not alone on my sea of detestation. : ) For me, ... as pretty much anyone who knows me is already aware of, ... although I have learned to appreciate these authors, ... I absolutely can't stand anything by both James Joyce and William Faulkner. They simply rage against my optimism. : ) Further, I live in the South, so anything from Faulkner that bleeds degeneration of the South makes me eternally sad. Most notably (and since you asked for specific works), ... The Sound and the Fury as well as A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man stand out in my mind as works that I don't enjoy either reading or teaching. Well, at least I have learned to appreciate them (as some have learned to appreciate opera). I'll be the first one to tell you, "Just because I don't like it doesn't mean it's not good!"
I have to agree with other editors in singling out anything by Nicholas Sparks. Romantic, sentimental, useless tosh. Yuck. Moby Dick is one of those books that I feel guilty for not liking but I just can't seem to get my head around. I always find myself asking why on earth am I even trying to read this book?
I have to say I love Faulkner, and still see the virtue in ploughing through Moby Dick. I still can't stand The Lord of the Rings though (not a great revelation as I live in NZ). I haven't read a single Harry Potter, though I've tried bits and watched the movies.
Oh, there are quite a few! I recently re-read Catcher in the Rye, and 35 years after the first time, I find that I still hate it. Salinger's dialogue is painfully stilted and so outdated, and I just dislike Holden too much to have any sympathy for him.He got what he deserved, I think - as did Jay Gatsby, another self-involved rich boy I didn't care much about.
On the more recent "must-read" lists, I didn't think much of Three Cups of Tea - I have to admit that I am rather enjoying the scandal and Greg Mortenson's subsequent discrediting. It was too perfect, and too preachy, to be real, and I'm relieved to see that it isn't real after all.
I agree with previous posters about Dan Brown's books - I liked The DaVinci Code, but Angels and Demons was boring; I actually went back for a third helping, and The Lost Symbol was.... well, let's just say it should have stayed lost.
I have to agree with the original poster's opinion of Cormac McCarthy's The Road. I just couldn't get past the unusual prose style implemented by McCarthy. Its overall gloomy outlook didn't help matters.
I'm a Faulkner fan myself. Light in August may be my favorite book of all times. It is brilliant in its construction and character development, and probably much easier to read than some of the others of his mentioned above. But it is not a particularly popular book, so I guess I am answering the opposite question: what book do others detest that you personally enjoy? And I have a long list of these types of books.
Back to the original question, I am not a Tolkien fan. Sorry, all of you this confession may offend. And I like some of Austen, but Persuasion was not a hit with me. And to be honest, Great Expectations was painful. I could not get through Pamuk's Snow, but I might try it again.
First of all, the Twilight series is high on my list, as is almost anything written by Nicholas Sparks. Though I'm probably in the same boat as my colleagues with those first two choices, it seems the majority of the world thinks otherwise.
As for a book of actual literary merit that I couldn't stand, my vote goes for The Kite Runner. I simply hated that book from beginning to end, and could NOT, for the life of me, find a redemptive quality in it.
Without a doubt, Walden. Just cannot bear it except in snippets. Faulkner is a close second. I have never really connected to the Russian works, either, though I must admit that I haven't tried reading any in a while. Unlike Walden or Faulkner, I do intend to try Brothers Karamazov again, though I'm waiting until winter when there aren't as many potential distractions. It won't take much.
I agree with number 1! I had not even been thinking that when I first read your question, but oh yes do I agree. It is partly because I have a great fear of the ocean and everything that lives in it. When I read the question, my first through was The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. Never having read Angels and Demons, I can't speak to it but the first was like pulling teeth. To me, it was as well-written as a badly acted movie.
I agree with LarryGates -- I can't take Faulkner either. Too dark for me. Moby Dick is one that I really hated because it seemed so slow to me. I read for so long and nothing seemed to be happening... I didn't much like Lord of the Flies either. That's too depressing. Those are the ones that come to mind.
Anything by William Faulkner is on my "anything but" list. During my college days, during the dark ages, I was assigned Sartoris, and suffered through it. Since that time, I have forced myself to read The Sound and the Fury since it is supposedly such a wonderful work; and have a copy of Absalom, Absalom gathering dust on my shelf. If it were up to me, Faulkner's work would never have been published. I guess I am not esoteric enough to appreciate Faulkner's work. More's the pity.
The entire Twilight series! They aren't written very well but people seem to love them. I'm not saying Stephenie Meyer isn't a good author because some of her other books are very well written but Twilight just isn't a very good book!
eat, pray, love
it was the worst book ive ever read. i didnt even finish all of it and i THREW IT AWAY! as a book lover, that says a lot!
I guess my vote would be for Angels and Demons by Dan Brown. I started reading it at a bed and breakfaqst literally within sight of the Vatican walls, which I thought would be cool for some description, history and detail of the place that I could then see firsthand. It was an incredibly disappointing book, which seemed much less plausible than its predecessor and an ending that made me feel like I had wasted my time reading it. I think a lot of people liked it because they liked The DaVinci Code, but I was not among them.
Actually, Angels and Demons was published first; perhaps you are thinking about the order in which the films were done. I have read all of Brown's novels; and literary or not, I have enjoyed all five of them.
Thank heavens there are others, belonging to the literary sector, who also dislike Faulkner's works.
I'd have thought the one essential requirement, especially in those pre-Internet days, was the ability to write proper English.
If you sacrifice your criteria for language, you still have to struggle through the dark contents which offer no redeeming values.
I totally agree with the above posts - Moby Dick, Catcher in the Rye, Great Expectations, and The Great Gatsby. I have so many more but to divulge would be to acknowledge my shallow literary tastes. I happened to like all Harry Potter and Dan Brown books. I suppose because I read them for shear escapism and not for any literary significance.