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

ramonmercado

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Love that story.

Also 'Eon'

'Tangent' isn't too bad.

I loved Eon. I must try Eternity again, there 2 books after that in the series. His latest Trilogy War Dogs is about an alien invasion of the Solar System, Inter-Planetary Marines and other aliens offering assistance. It's pretty good.
 

Bad Bungle

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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'.

Electric Kool Aid dove-tailed so effortlessly into the Grateful Dead : Vanguard of a New Generation (were they the same book ? - been so long). Not the best of books but certainly not the worst I've ever read.
 

IamSundog

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My wife used to buy and read those romance novels with the covers picturing a handsome muscled guy embracing a lovely young woman with torn bodice. I referred to them all with the generic title: “Heaving Cleavage”.
 

Naughty_Felid

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My wife used to buy and read those romance novels with the covers picturing a handsome muscled guy embracing a lovely young woman with torn bodice. I referred to them all with the generic title: “Heaving Cleavage”.

Sounds like an HP Lovecraft story. "The Heaving Cleavage and other tales of madness"
 

Stormkhan

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The worst book I've ever read?
The Inspector and Mrs Jeffries by Emily Brightwell.
Supposedly a mystery novel set in Victorian London, it took me three attempts to finally control my temper and read it all through. The strapline on the cover (yes, it's like that) reads "He's with Scotland Yard. She's his housekeeper. Sometimes, her job can be murder ..." As soon as I saw that I immediately thought of the opening sequence to Hart to Hart and assumed she - or her publishers - were writing it with a TV series in mind. While it's the first of a short series, I'm glad to say no one has been idiot enough to option it to TV execs.
The text reads like a high school English test submission, first draft. The characters are so stereotypical, they're laughable in an unfunny way. The plot didn't thicken but remained clear as cabbage water. And, the thing that sticks in my craw the most, is that the historical setting is so atrociously researched that I suspected the author had never been to London and got all her Victorian detail from watching lousy 1930's black and white movies of Victorian England. Constant pea soupers and bobbies in oilskin capes are not the worst of it. The characters behave in a manner that would've had them committed to an asylum or locked up in prison, the titular Mrs Jeffries being the worst offender, closely followed by the Inspector who'd never have been let into the police, let alone attained a rank. That he comes back home and dutifully recounts all his case details to his housekeeper while bemoaning the 'permissive society', and she cross-examines him to garner clues, makes the whole thing beyond a joke. She then uses various other household staff to gather clues which she then feeds back to the inspector with the subtlety of typing it out in triplicate, binding it and smacking him upside of his face with it.
I know that the implication (roadmarked with a neon sign) is that he owes his professional position to her, but this first case starts out as if this so-called 'help' has been going on for years, with everyone - including his work colleagues - practically tipping the wink to her in front of the Idiot Inspector.
ARGH!
 

Yithian

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I've read some terrible memoirs that were scarcely literate, but two 'famous' books that disappointed me massively were On The Road and The Crying of Lot 49.

Both went unfinished.

Perhaps it was just the wrong confluence of time and place.

Edit: title corrected.
 
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Mythopoeika

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I've read some terrible memoirs that were scarcely literate, but two 'famous' books that disappointed me massively were On The Road and The Crying of Lot.

Both went unfinished.

Perhaps it was just the wrong confluence of time and place.
The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon?
 

Spookdaddy

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The Quincunx...

I actually quite enjoyed The Quincunx, but I'd not long finished an English degree – given the number of obscure Victorian novels I’d had to lumber through, The Quincunx felt like a walk in the park. However, it’s most likely in my ‘read once’ file, and I do appreciate that it won’t have been everyone’s cup of tea.

One thing I would say – I’d hate for anyone who did not get on with this novel to be automatically put off Palliser’s other work: specifically, The Unburied and Rustication, both of which I’ve recommended elsewhere on this forum, and both of which are much, much shorter!

Of the former, which is a Victorian mystery spun around a lethal secret and wrapped up in the cast-off clothes of a ghost story:

…the setting, props and atmosphere are so Jamesian that I've always thought that Palliser must be a fan. Lonely academics, creaky tumbledown houses in foggy cathedral closes full of bitchy ecclesiastics, lost manuscripts - all very reminiscent. Thoroughly satisfying read, and one I suspect any fan of MR James will enjoy.

Of the latter:

Rustication - A Novel. A 'gothic puzzler' which unfolds through the diary of seventeen year old Richard Shenstone, recently sent down from Cambridge for initially unspecified transgressions. Full of twists and uncertainties - as a reader you don't really have a clue whether Shenstone - a thoroughly unreliable narrator (but you're never quite sure whether by art or circumstance), really doesn't have a clue what's going on, or if the whole diary is an intricate piece of distraction. Quite slow burning but great reading for a blustery night.

The landscape is also reminiscent of James's coastal Suffolk - and very well drawn. (That's not to say it is Suffolk; I may be wrong but I don't think Palliser specifies precisely where the novel's are set and I think the place names are all fictional - the descriptions also evoke the atmospheric landscape of Romney Marsh.)
 

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Just bought that on Auduble - thank you!

Hope you enjoy.

The Unburied - which has all the furniture of a good ghost story, in Jamesian style - is one of those books that convinces me that there is a strong underlying connection between crime fiction and the tradition of the ghost story.

Within the environs of a misty cathedral close in a Victorian backwater those associations come almost naturally, but even in more hardnosed styles and modern settings I believe the connection is there. Every unsolved crime is a haunted house - and even a solution, where one reveals itself, does not entirely lay the ghosts.
 

AgProv

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The Silmarillion. J R Tolkien.

Just can't get past the first pages.
I know... it really does read like fan-fiction of The Bible, where Creation happens, Satan falls from heaven, then the Chosen People, firstly the elves and then humans, fall from grace and are cast out to live among the Nations, until G-D loses it and ends each phase of the world with an apocalypse.
 

bugmum

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I've ranted about Wuthering Heights on here before - the only book it took me at least five attempts to read. I would like to add Cloud Atlas, as I got a copy as a freebie from a colleague on the adult equivalent of World Book Day one year. I think I'm the only person in the lab who actually finished it, but it was hard going.

I've never finished Les Miserables, although I have the two volumes stolen from ym Its in the bookcase upstairs...
 

JaneD

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i couldn’t finish a cod-keltic Patricia Kenneally novel. Very dire. I’m afraid the title escapes me, but if you see her name on the front, avoid! I thought years of processing massive Victorian novels as part of an English degree would allow me to skim through any old chuff, but apparently not. The trick, dear readers, is to stop reading the left hand page half way down, and skip lightly over to the same level on the right hand page, thus getting a fair view of the action but missing half the time-wasting words.
i really enjoyed the Quincunx, but see admission above
 

Mythopoeika

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i couldn’t finish a cod-keltic Patricia Kenneally novel. Very dire. I’m afraid the title escapes me, but if you see her name on the front, avoid! I thought years of processing massive Victorian novels as part of an English degree would allow me to skim through any old chuff, but apparently not. The trick, dear readers, is to stop reading the left hand page half way down, and skip lightly over to the same level on the right hand page, thus getting a fair view of the action but missing half the time-wasting words.
i really enjoyed the Quincunx, but see admission above
The writer is obviously paid for word-count.
 

catseye

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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'.
LOVED Use of Weapons! I think two of the worst books I've read (and I've read some corkers of dreadful books, but all differently bad, if you see what I mean) were Kate Mosse's Labyrinth (far too full of 'I speak French, look at me, here, speaking French!') and A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness (started out so promisingly and became a grown up version of Twilight, full of people with ridiculously over-blown amounts of powers. Something I tell my students is not to make your main characters so impossibly over-super because nobody can relate to those who can get out of trouble by clicking their fingers). I wanted to like both of these but just...couldn't.
 

cycleboy2

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Yes, sorry--the end got cut off.
I actually like The Crying of Lot 49 a lot and have read a few other Pynchon novels; I only tried one Kerouac novel - and as a fan of Ken Kesey, William Burroughs, Richard Brautigan and more - it should have been right up my street, but I really couldn't get on with his novel Big Sur at all.

I tried reading Bernard Malamud years back; I managed to finish The Natural but didn't go back for more.
 

catseye

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I haven't read the books but I like the tv series.
I never even attempted that. But I have heard that the characters are given more depth than in the books. In the first book the main character starts out as an independant academic and ends up a simpering 'he'th jutht tho thtwong!' weak, pathetic kind of romance heroine of the kind that gives proper romance heroines a bad name.
 

ramonmercado

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I never even attempted that. But I have heard that the characters are given more depth than in the books. In the first book the main character starts out as an independant academic and ends up a simpering 'he'th jutht tho thtwong!' weak, pathetic kind of romance heroine of the kind that gives proper romance heroines a bad name.

She has more depth and agency in the tv series.
 

SimonBurchell

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Stephen King's Under The Dome... Builds up multiple storylines, then seems to get bored of where everything is going and kills everyone in a fire. What was the point.
 

Min Bannister

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Stephen King's Under The Dome... Builds up multiple storylines, then seems to get bored of where everything is going and kills everyone in a fire. What was the point.
That is more or less the case for any of his books that I've tried. He doesn't know where he's going with them and they just sort of stop. The only exception is The Green Mile which was good.
 

Mythopoeika

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Stephen King's Under The Dome... Builds up multiple storylines, then seems to get bored of where everything is going and kills everyone in a fire. What was the point.
Yes, I felt massively cheated by that series.
 

Mythopoeika

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That is more or less the case for any of his books that I've tried. He doesn't know where he's going with them and they just sort of stop. The only exception is The Green Mile which was good.
I'm amazed that King has had such success. I'm not a fan.
 
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