What's The Worst Book You've Ever Read?

Ogdred Weary

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A novel having a beginning, middle and end (in that order) seems to be a fairly modern concept. Books from the 1850s seem to start in the middle and then branch out in all direction, with the author putting down everything he knows about a subject as if this will be their one and only chance to get a book published. I quite liked Moby Dick because I learnt a great deal about whaling, how the native Americans hunted whales with bow and arrow if they strayed into coastal inlets, how Baleen whales were hunted in the arctic for corset stays etc. The only thing I didn't come away with was any impression of the 'obsession' of Captain Ahad that people bang on about (maybe they never actually read the book).

Umberto Eco, Thomas Pynchon and many others have kept the "I'm going to shove everything into my book" trope going into the 21st century.
 

Kondoru

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Its a book about a guy who whats to have kids with no woman involved.

Having done this, he is unhappy with the result, and abandons him.

His creation goes all whiny kid on him and dilligently works to make his life a misery.

No way is this remotley anything like Horror.

There is absolutley no Horror in it, unless you have issues (As perhaps the people of the day did) with the sheer unnaturalness of the initial premise.
 

Kondoru

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Ah, Umberto Eco;

He is continualy screaming at the top of his voice "LOOK WORLD! I AM SO WELL EDUCATED! I AM SO WELL READ!! COWER BEFORE MY COLLOSAL INTTELECT!!!"

(Pratchett is another very well read author, but he (mostly) avoids this)
 

James_H

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Ah, Umberto Eco;

He is continualy screaming at the top of his voice "LOOK WORLD! I AM SO WELL EDUCATED! I AM SO WELL READ!! COWER BEFORE MY COLLOSAL INTTELECT!!!"

(Pratchett is another very well read author, but he (mostly) avoids this)
Neal Stephenson springs to mind too. I have a love-hate relationship with him, I always feel better for having read his books but my is he a show-off.
 

Ogdred Weary

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Ah, Umberto Eco;

He is continualy screaming at the top of his voice "LOOK WORLD! I AM SO WELL EDUCATED! I AM SO WELL READ!! COWER BEFORE MY COLLOSAL INTTELECT!!!"

(Pratchett is another very well read author, but he (mostly) avoids this)

I love The Name of the Rose or did when I read it 20 years ago, I really struggled with Foucault's Pendulum about ten years ago, started out loving it and hated it long before the end. Have heard all his other books are similarly unlikeable.
 

Tigerhawk

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I did manage to finish Frankenstein, back in the days when I forced myself to finish books. You shouldn't feel bad and aren't missing much, it's a great idea but a turgid bore to read.
We had to read it at school. We asked the English teacher if we could and he told us it was heavy going to put it mildly. As he handed out copies he said "Don't say I didn't warn you."
We had to read Frankestein in Year 11 (so about sixteen years old) - thoroughly enjoyed it, as it made a great chance from tripe like Children Of The Oregon Trail, The Merry Go Round In The Sea and other awful things...
 

Spookdaddy

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A novel having a beginning, middle and end (in that order) seems to be a fairly modern concept. Books from the 1850s seem to start in the middle and then branch out in all direction, with the author putting down everything he knows about a subject as if this will be their one and only chance to get a book published...

Two words: Tristram Shandy. (Or eight, if you prefer the full title.)

Almost a century older than 1850, but fits the above description.

I really liked it - but if you want a beginning a middle and an end, do not even go there; it will make Moby Dick look like a shopping list.

(There's a really nice Graphic Novel version by Martin Rowson - but, truth be told, it's no less discombobulating.)
 

Ogdred Weary

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Two words: Tristram Shandy. (Or eight, if you prefer the full title.)

Almost a century older than 1850, but fits the above description.

I really liked it - but if you want a beginning a middle and an end, do not even go there; it will make Moby Dick look like a shopping list.

(There's a really nice Graphic Novel version by Martin Rowson - but, truth be told, it's no less discombobulating.)

Surely Tristram Shandy never starts?

The film "adaptation" A Cock and Bull Story is quite good, fittingly it's about Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan failing to adapt the novel.
 

Tempest63

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Ah, Umberto Eco;

He is continualy screaming at the top of his voice "LOOK WORLD! I AM SO WELL EDUCATED! I AM SO WELL READ!! COWER BEFORE MY COLLOSAL INTTELECT!!!"

(Pratchett is another very well read author, but he (mostly) avoids this)
I couldn’t finish underground London by Stephen Smith as it is one of those books where the author wants you think he has the greatest understanding of the Queens English and will never use a simple world when an obscure, less used one, can replace it. It does the opposite for me and I picture in my head someone desperately trawling through a thesaurus in an attempt to make him look like a smart arse.
 

Mythopoeika

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I couldn’t finish underground London by Stephen Smith as it is one of those books where the author wants you think he has the greatest understanding of the Queens English and will never use a simple world when an obscure, less used one, can replace it. It does the opposite for me and I picture in my head someone desperately trawling through a thesaurus in an attempt to make him look like a smart arse.
Unfortunately, I used to know a writer like that. Her works are impossible to read. Which is probably why she can't make a living at it.
 

AgProv

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Perhaps "the worst book you've ever made yourself finish"?

Well... for fictional purposes, I wanted a character who came out of a Fantasy Counterpart Culture of Russia. I wanted her to be sort-of-aristocratic and also somebody who flew a bit. I hit on the name of "Olga Romanoff" as being suitably generic for the person and the character I had in mind.

Then two things happened quickly.

I discovered there is a real-life Olga Romanoff who, if Russia still officially recognised these things, would be a Princess and a heir to the Tsarate.

I also had my attention drawn to the existence of a stupendously horrible, awfully written, piece of Victorian steampunk/melodrama/proto sci-fi with the title of

Olga Romanoff
or the Syren of the Skies.

by George Griffith


In which Princess Olga (not the current one, but a person of this name living in an alternative-universe Russia in the 1890's) is smarting at the effortless way the mighty British Empire has swatted Imperial Russia aside in war, and wishes to get even. She sets up as an airship-pirate and launches her own guerilla war against the British Empire, being a heartless evil autocratic bitch until she is finally tracked down and slain.

Interesting idea, deathless purple prose, and one Fortean touch: written in the early 1890's, the author predicts that the first powered flying aircraft will get off the ground in 1903... otherwise the book is, well, hard going...

Olga Romanoff or the Syren of the Skies.
 

XBergMann

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The chronicles of Thomas Covenant. Boring boring boring. I amazingly got as far as halfway through the third book before deciding that watching wood warp would be more interesting.

I've never really got on with Dickens either. Being forced to read Oliver Twist at school may have something to do with that. Maybe I'll try again in the current climate - there is a half-finished copy of David Copperfield by my bed.

I read all 6 Thomas Covenant books, admittedly more than 30 years ago and thoroughly enjoyed them but then there was no internet in those days so my expectations would have been lower. I was also unemployed at the time so anything that compressed time was welcome.
 

Mythopoeika

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The Wasp Factory By Ian Banks.

It still fills me with horror some 15 years after I read it. Well written but the plot is from a twisted mind.
I had that book but never read it. Gave it away.
 

XBergMann

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I had that book but never read it. Gave it away.

Cruel thing to do, unless of course you gave it to someone you don't like very much. I imagine ... I was going to firebomb your car and kidnap your budgerigar but instead I will reveal my disdain for you by giving you a copy of The Wasp Factory by Ian Banks in the hope you may read it and then leave it on your coffee table so your loved ones might read it too.
 

Mythopoeika

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Cruel thing to do, unless of course you gave it to someone you don't like very much. I imagine ... I was going to firebomb your car and kidnap your budgerigar but instead I will reveal my disdain for you by giving you a copy of The Wasp Factory by Ian Banks in the hope you may read it and then leave it on your coffee table so your loved ones might read it too.
LOL. I gave it to a charity shop.
 

Bigphoot2

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The Wasp Factory By Ian Banks.

It still fills me with horror some 15 years after I read it. Well written but the plot is from a twisted mind.
Banks' The Crow Road had one of the greatest opening lines ever: "It was the day my grandmother exploded."
 

Krepostnoi

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As a general rule avoiding songs and poems in novels has served me well.
From the dusty crevices of my mind there emerge, blinking, the sequels to Clan of the Cave Bear. I still have time for the first instalment, but by Toutatis the law of diminishing returns sets in fairly quickly as you work through the later books. You'd think in between single-handedly inventing agriculture, the domestication of wild animals, and pretty much every other cro-magnon achievement, Ayla wouldn't have time to sit through quite so many recitations of sacred poems. But in fact it turns out she does. Oh, does she ever. I mean, I know they had to make their own entertainment in those days, but was that the best they could come up with? I'd begun reading the series before the sixth instalment - the Land of Painted Caves (doubtless it turns out Ayla invented cave painting, too...) - came out, and so was quite excited for its publication. But I couldn't finish it. In fact, I gave up pretty early on, after yet another interminable poem.
 

Sgt Girth

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I’d never buy the damned thing but I’m certain that Piers Morgan’s autobiography would be waaaaaaaaaaaay too long!
 
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