books you hate or can’t read

Sf Mindmeld had a post on books that people hated (and why) or why they couldn’t read them. I thought it was fascinating. There are a fair number of books in the ‘classics” kind of area that I have not liked or haven’t been able to read. I keep wanting to try because they are supposed classics, but I find that either they, or I, simply are not in tune.

I think it’s interesting what turns each person off and what turns them on. There are a fair number of books I agree with on this list. Books I’ve started but not finished. And yet I haven’t quit trying. I have not read a lot of Heinlein and I have not read Stranger in a Strange Land. I read other Heinlein as a kid and didn’t like it. What I remember was that the books had flat characters and bored me to tears. As I got older, I never could pick them up again with any liking. But I haven’t tried seriously in awhile and I feel like I should.

I have to admit that I’m not terribly fond of reading Tolkien. I admire the language and the story, but I don’t find the characters that developed and I think there are a fair number of digressions that I don’t care for. I have trouble getting through the books. But I love the movies. I do love the worldbuilding though.

When it comes to issues of women, I do tend to look for good portrayals of women and I do not like rape stories or stories where women are simply receptacles for men, or cardboard stereotypes. But then, same about men. I like good fully developed characters. I don’t mind violence in general (obviously), but I do need it to be appropriate to the story. I like complexity and difficulty, but I also like breezy reads.

I’ve not had luck reading American Gods, but I wonder if it’s me and I need to try again. I never liked Black Wine by Candas Jane Dorsey. Or I should say, I couldn’t get into the book. I kept putting it down. It was beloved by many people. Nor do I like the Twilight books. Or rather, the first I couldn’t read. I started, but I can’t get past anyone going back to high school on purpose, nor can I get past the whole stalker element. There are a lot of books that I have on my TRB shelf (oh, they are really packed in boxes many of them) that I’ve been meaning to read and haven’t been that interested in, despite how acclaimed the books are. The thing is, as an academic, I want to read things that stretch me and ask more of me than just pure entertainment value. I think it’s good for my mind, my soul, and my creative spirit. But I do not like to be bored.

I’m curious though, what books have you tried that a lot of people/critics like and you’ve found wanting?

I’ve been tempted to start some sort of reading group here on the blog. Maybe read one book a month and do a discussion here. Would anybody be interested? I don’t know what sorts of books we’d pick. Probably things that have been recommended to us by reviews or other readers or by general acclaim. Thoughts


  • Mari

    I have to admit, I never could read Tolkien either. So *many* people love that series but I could never get past the sheer volume of descriptors.
    Some things I won’t even try to read (Twilight series & 50 Shades come to mind) because people I trust gave me an overview and pointed out things that I can’t stand. Bad enough that they wasted their time! 😉
    One current writer (who will remain nameless) has been banned from my shelves since her first book. It was so obvious where the story was going that it was painful. I forced myself to read it but I will never again buy another book by her.
    Thankfully, there are authors out there who keep me going until way past my bedtime. You and several other (usually women) authors are my joy. I love to stay up and read – and I love to go back and read my books over and over again. I can’t thank you enough for the late nights you’ve given me! 😀

  • Sunny

    I’d be interested in book club! Admittedly, the book I could not finish is The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. I found it hard to engage with the character.

    Looking back at the book marathon I engaged in last year, I don’t think I read a single male author. I don’t think it was on purpose, probably an unconscious choice. Still, I love strong female characters who make no apologies for who they are.

    • Di Francis

      Never heard of Edward Sawtelle. It don’t pay much attention to gender when choosing books, but I have to admit, I buy a lot of women authors, probably more than male authors.

  • Tine

    I have to admit that I have become really tired of the whole vampire bit and the description of a ‘vampire’ book had better have some other hook in order for me to buy one now.

    The Dark Series by Freehan (?) is a series that I have stopped reading. I don’t know if it is because she had so many out by the time I tried her but is is the same story with names changed. Also the whole, you are my soulmate you WILL be changed against your will, is too much like rape for me.

    I cannot read any John Steinbeck. I had to read the Black Pearl when I was in the 8th grade and haven’t been able to read anything else by him ever since.

    Heinlein is another I don’t read. I have read one or two, but, I am thinking he appeals to guys. My brother read everything by him.

    I love the Pern books by Ann McCaffrey. I will be giving away all of the books of Pern that have her son writing in them. He just took her world and totally changed the rules. I liked some of the twists but they just kept coming and he always had the same story — oh no, the flu, let’s go back in time and fix it.

    I have stayed with Hamilton’s Anita Blake series but is has been a struggle. She became too erotica for awhile there and I have to admit to HUGE disappointment when after taking 6+ books to set up the BIG BAD, she ends it in a couple of paragraphs with feel good thoughts. I stay with her because I do like the minor characters and am very interested in them. But she is on my watch list.

    Mercedes Lackey has become a stale writer for me. I have actually given away many of her books to the local library.

    Wow, Diana, you have opened the flood gates with this question.

    • Di Francis

      I’m not reading a lot of vampire stuff lately, though there are some I continue to read, like Patty Briggs’ stuff.

      I’ve not read Feehan. I’m not real fond of change against your will either. Same reason.

      I don’t like Steinbeck either. Or Hemingway. I can read them an appreciate what they do, but I don’t enjoy them much. I much prefer Faulkner.

      I’m with you on the Pern books. On all fronts.

      I quite reading the Anita Blake books a long time ago. I liked the first six or so in the series, but then didn’t care for the way things were going. I don’t pick up Lackey anymore either. In the last one I read, I remember that she spent so much time on clothing and food descriptions that i got tremendously bored. But I used to absolutely adore her stuff.

      I’ve been wondering if it’s turned out to be a really good thing to finish the HOrngate books at 4, before things got stale and boring. But then again, as long as I have a new story, I’ll tell more in that world with those characters. I just don’t have any stories at the moment.

  • Leslie

    I confess that I hated Jane Eyre. I just didn’t find Jane to be a sympathetic character at all – in fact, I thought she was annoying.

    I do love Tolkein, though it’s been a long time since I read any of those.

    The Jean M. Auel books (Earth’s Children is the name of the series I think) I finally gave up on. I did enjoy the characters for the first 4 or 5 books, but felt that there was a lot of extraneous information that didn’t really need to be there to further the story. I finally gave up 200 pages into the last installment when nothing of substance had happened yet.

    I don’t think I’ve actually read any Heinlein, but I’ve always been more into fantasy than science fiction.

    I’m sure I could go on, but I’ll spare you. 🙂 I would be interested in a book club though – I’m always trying to stretch my reading horizons.

    • Di Francis

      I teach Jane Eyre. Over the years I’ve come to like it more and more. I think it’s because I’ve seen something in Jane and Rochester that I didn’t see before. But I despise Wuthering Heights.

      See today’s post for Book Club stuff. We’re going to get it going.

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