Thursday, March 19, 2009

Booking Through Thursday: The Worst Best Book

This week's BTT topic:

What’s the worst ‘best’ book you’ve ever read? The one everyone says is so great, but you can’t figure out why.

Well, right away, I'm going to ignore all those books I was assigned in English classes in my youth - the "classics" that all my professors were confident I couldn't possibly live without reading - and all those self-help and love-your-guru books we were all expected to read and live by, back in the '60s and '70s. Some of those were quite, quite awful, though highly recommended.

The more I've thought about this question, the harder it is to come up with an answer, because generally I don't waste a lot of time reading books I don't like. I've been out of school a long time now, and I'm no longer working; so the reading I do these days is purely for my own pleasure. And if a book doesn't totally engage me by the time I've read a chapter or two (sometimes twenty pages or less is enough to judge), I usually put it aside and move on to something else. Also, I'm not one to read a book just because "everyone" is praising it. I almost always try to find out as much as I can about a book before I add it to my "must read" list.

There are authors whose work I don't exactly dislike, although I have a hard time getting through it. Virginia Woolf, for one. I loved Orlando and I thought To the Lighthouse was a fine book. But I've never really been able to enjoy any of her other work. I can appreciate the artistry, but it just doesn't move me the way other writing does. A.S. Byatt is another writer who comes to mind – probably because I just finished struggling through her book, Angels & Insects. She's a fine writer, and I did enjoy parts of the two novellas – at least enough to keep reading. But, overall, I found it pretty tedious – exactly the way I felt about her Possession a few years ago; and I think I must have been the only person on the planet who didn't love that one.

I always used to say The World According to Garp was the worst book I'd ever read, and it was a huge best-seller. I don't say that anymore, though. Mainly because it was a lie – I disliked the book so much I never finished it, so I can't really claim it as a book I've read. Hmmmm. That might be a good question, too. What's the best/worst book you never read, but claimed you did?


  1. I think it might be even harder to think of books that I hated, but never finished reading it.

    ~ Popin

  2. I'm like you! I don't see the point in wasting time on a book if it doesn't engage me in the first few chapters.

    Thanks for visiting my blog! :)

  3. I agree. I'm getting a lot better at leaving books unread if I don't like them. I have better things to do and read than waste them on a bad book.

  4. I didn't do this one because I thought that I'd already said Jane Austen and Harry Potter too many times.

    Sometimes the question is meaty, and sometimes only a stale cracker.

  5. I havent read The World According to Garp. If I dont like a book, I usually wont finish it.
    The worst best book I've ever read was Love In the Time of Cholera.

  6. I have a difficult time getting through Mrs Dalloway right now. All this religious digression of Peter Walsh makes me put the book down. I'll get back to it.


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