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

oxo66

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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.
Loved Wasp Factory.
However. Dead Air is on my book shelf. It's a charity shop buy so it looks like its been read. It probably has but not by me. I just can't get into it.

Oxo
 

AgProv

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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...
I ws so used to the idea a book has to be "linear" that when I first read Mary W Shelley's Frankenstein, my mind was blown by the structure: stories nested within stories nested within stories as each of seven or eight principal characters, including the monster, gets to tell their tale. Frankenstein was like a nested set of Russian dolls. And by no means a bad novel. The experience of meeting a non-conventional novel for the first time was - wow.

A good non-linear novel: Shea and Wilson';s first Illuminatus! trilogy, that becomes after a while compulsive reading.

A bad non-linear novel: Michael Moorcock's Jerry Cornelius novels. You can see what he's trying to do and get an idea of his "challenging the conventions of novel-writing" and why the arty-farty types raved over it - but it just falls flat with cardboard characters and unconvincing settings. Some good bits that definitively tie into the Eternal Champion theme; but just rehashings of the Elric books, stuff Moorcock has written before. Or, in novels not enslaved to linear time,

" This is the point I'm making, guys, this is still original work. You've got the Elric books probably because a future me wrote them and the planes of time interesected allowing them to appear in the bookshops in this pne of the Multiverse. From my position on my timeline , I've just not, from my point of view, written the Elric series yet, honestly... this bit where Jerry Cornelius is apparently rehashing an Elric adventure, well, what are the chances, huh..."

I feel vaguely guilty. I like Moorcock's classic books. I really do. I've collected first edition paperbacks and I have a shelf full of them. it's just that... most of the Jerry Cornelius cycle is badly-written pretentious shite. Unless I've missed something. (The one that inspired Terry Pratchett to write a Discworld novel is halfway decent, but the rest... as first edition paperbacks they are there on my Moorcock shelf to make up the numbers. Apart from one, barely touched. )

Seriously - Michael Moorcock The Final Programme. Read this then go to Terry Pratchett's Thief of Time. It leaps out at you that one helped inspire the other. The rest of the Cornelius books..... so-so.


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Naughty_Felid

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I'm quite fond of the Jerry books, (that could be my bookshelf but not as complete as yours.
 

Cochise

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I'm quite fond of the Jerry books, (that could be my bookshelf but not as complete as yours.
And a lot tidier than mine. I liked some of the Moorcock books - Elric in particular - and still have some of them. I tried hard to understand the Jerry Cornelious ones without any notable success.

I just thought of another candidate for my worst

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_World_According_to_Garp

Tedious in the extreme. I regret that it must still be occupying valuable memory cells or it wouldn't have popped back in to my mind.
 

Krepostnoi

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I just thought of another candidate for my worst

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_World_According_to_Garp

Tedious in the extreme. I regret that it must still be occupying valuable memory cells or it wouldn't have popped back in to my mind.
I'm astounded at this. There's a moment in TWATG when I realised that a certain character had not been mentioned for a while, and why not, and it was a devastating proof of the concept "show, don't tell". I can only think of three or four other occasions when a book moved me to that extent, and funnily enough, one of those is also by John Irving. I think A Prayer for Owen Meany is the closest I'm likely to come to understanding the lived experience of religious faith, while the prayer/lament at the end really shook me. I was reading it on a plane, and could barely stifle my overpowering sobbing. Tremendous stuff.
 

Cochise

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I'm astounded at this. There's a moment in TWATG when I realised that a certain character had not been mentioned for a while, and why not, and it was a devastating proof of the concept "show, don't tell". I can only think of three or four other occasions when a book moved me to that extent, and funnily enough, one of those is also by John Irving. I think A Prayer for Owen Meany is the closest I'm likely to come to understanding the lived experience of religious faith, while the prayer/lament at the end really shook me. I was reading it on a plane, and could barely stifle my overpowering sobbing. Tremendous stuff.
I'm glad you enjoyed it. It was a very popular book at the time, I know. I'm not a great reader of novels, really. I was unimpressed with Catch 22 as well.

I read a lot, mostly factual stuff or sf/fantasy, historical novels and the like. Travelogues and biographies. Humour.

I don't know if there is a term for 'non-genre' novels like TWATG , but they probably account for 5% or less of my reading. I like Canadian author Robertson Davies though.

edit: I was highly impressed by Frankenstein. Dracula is pretty good too, another unorthodox structure.
 
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Xanatic*

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I started reading Soulless by Gail Carriger. Steampunk books already have that fake victorian prose, which doesn't get better in a swedish translation. Honestly it was giving me a headache.

However, kudos to Spookdaddy for the phrase "rubbing shoulders with a well-known face" earlier in this thread.
 

Cochise

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Loved Wasp Factory.
However. Dead Air is on my book shelf. It's a charity shop buy so it looks like its been read. It probably has but not by me. I just can't get into it.

Oxo
I must look into more Iain (M) Banks. I've only read Crow Road and Use of Weapons. Also time to re-read The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test. That should be an antidote to current times. I really wanted to be 'on the bus'.
 

Tigerhawk

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Anything written by Stephen Baxter. I resent him wasting Terry Pratchett's limited time co-writing the Long Earth books, taking Sir Terry away from the Discworld...
 

Spookdaddy

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...However, kudos to Spookdaddy for the phrase "rubbing shoulders with a well-known face" earlier in this thread.

I have Fairground Mirror Syndrome by proxy - or something.
 

Cochise

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Anything written by Stephen Baxter. I resent him wasting Terry Pratchett's limited time co-writing the Long Earth books, taking Sir Terry away from the Discworld...
I like the long earth books. It's hard for anyone to come up with anything original in SF and I don't know of any precursors for their idea. Yes people have had parallel Earths before (one of the early Moorcocks, for example) but the idea that ordinary people could just flip between them by aid of a potato is surely without precedent :)

They gradually drop off in quality through the series, no doubt because Sir Pterry was fading, but it is a series I will reread.

Discworld, I think, reached a fairly natural and philosophical end in Steam. The old magical world giving place to the new engineering. A metaphor for our own industrial revolution.
 

Tigerhawk

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I like the long earth books. It's hard for anyone to come up with anything original in SF and I don't know of any precursors for their idea. Yes people have had parallel Earths before (one of the early Moorcocks, for example) but the idea that ordinary people could just flip between them by aid of a potato is surely without precedent :)

They gradually drop off in quality through the series, no doubt because Sir Pterry was fading, but it is a series I will reread.
Stephen Baxter IS a potato...:incan::ranting:
 

escargot

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es people have had parallel Earths before (one of the early Moorcocks, for example)

The Spheres of Existence or summat. Every possible permutation of events was available if you could find the way to nip between the Planes.
All the main characters were alternate versions of themselves. I read about 20 dozen of them. The great theme was that nothing was lost or irreparable because it still existed in a perfect state somewhere in time and space. Even people.
 

INT21

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The Silmarillion. J R Tolkien.

Just can't get past the first pages.
 

Naughty_Felid

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The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test - Tom Wolfe

Barefoot in The Head - Brian Aldiss

Both about drugs - both rubbish.
 

hunck

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In a similar vein, anyone finished a William Burroughs book?
 

Kryptonite

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In a similar vein, anyone finished a William Burroughs book?

I read Junky, which I thought was ok at the time, but I can't remember anything about it now. For me, that's usually a sign that it wasn't my kind of thing.
 

oldrover

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Robert Paddle. The Last Tasmanian Tiger: The History and Extinction of the Thylacine. It was given to me by fellow board member Amysleigh. It's a total load of old tosh, wildly inaccurate, petulant wank, and the most detremintal thing that's happened to the specues since its extinction. It is also my favourite book and I never travel without it. It even went to Tasmania with me.
 

Cochise

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The Silmarillion. J R Tolkien.

Just can't get past the first pages.
Yes. I really love Lord of the Rings and am perfectly OK with The Hobbit. But a lot of the Silmarillion borders on the unreadable.

I do understand it is backround story but while one or two episodes in it rouse some interest, basically it should have been left in Tolkien's papers for researchers.
The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test - Tom Wolfe

Barefoot in The Head - Brian Aldiss

Both about drugs - both rubbish.

Oh mate. The Kool-Aid Acid Test - brilliant. I don't know your age or anything but it was of its time. And actually it doesn't glorify drugs - in the end it reveals them as self defeating.

I still wanted to be 'on the bus' though ;)
 
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Naughty_Felid

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Yes. I really love Lord of the Rings and am perfectly OK with The Hobbit. But a lot of the Silmarillion borders on the unreadable.

I do understand it is backround story but while one or two episodes in it rouse some interest, basically it should have been left in Tolkien's papers for researchers.


Oh mate. The Kool-Aid Acid Test - brilliant. I don't know your age or anything but it was of its time. And actually it doesn't glorify drugs - in the end it reveals them as self defeating.

I still wanted to be 'on the bus' though ;)

I couldn't get through it. Although trying my best to be my own Tim Leary some of the drug fiction just didn't do it for me.
 

Ogdred Weary

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In a similar vein, anyone finished a William Burroughs book?

I really liked Naked Lunch and Junky, the latter is approachable as is the follow up, of sorts, Queer; though that's not very good. I've read a couple of his late books: Cities of the Red Night and The Western Lands, they are both somewhere between a regular novel and the madness of Naked Lunch but I didn't like either.
 

Sgt Girth

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I’m another one that can’t finish The Silmarillion.... and I’ve attempted it on 4 separate occasions!
 

ramonmercado

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Eternity tt Greg bear, started it twice, can't finish it. I always like Bear's stuff but this defeated me.
 

INT21

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Eternity tt Greg bear, started it twice, can't finish it. I always like Bear's stuff but this defeated me.

Love that story.

Also 'Eon'

'Tangent' isn't too bad.
 

Spookdaddy

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I couldn't get through it. Although trying my best to be my own Tim Leary some of the drug fiction just didn't do it for me.

I'm totally with you on this. Drug fiction - even the supposed classics - never floated my boat. The Basketball Diaries probably did more to put me off drugs than any amount of shock adverts and parental advice - not so much because of what it might do to my body, but because drugs make people so bloody boring.

That said, I am currently reading - among other things - M Ageyev's, A Romance With Cocaine.

But so far there's not a lot of cocaine in evidence.
 
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