Posted by: chartroose | June 20, 2008

Ten Books I Should Have Liked, But Didn’t

Hooray, I’m finally going to be able to spend an entire weekend at home, relaxing.  Thank God!  This will give me some time to catch up on a couple of memes (thanks Julie and T Y) and write a couple of book reviews to post next week.  Just for fun, and because it’s Friday and I don’t want to work too hard, I’ve decided to write an easy post about highly regarded and/or popular novels that left me wondering about all the hoopla. 

     1.  Housekeeping–Marilynne Robinson 
This novel was a dead bore.  I managed to finish it and then wondered why I bothered to waste all that reading time.  It got such good reviews that I still feel like a dumbass for not enjoying it.


     2.  Gilead–Marilynne Robinson

     This was even worse than Housekeeping.  I didn’t finish it.  I guess Ms. Robinson just isn’t my  style!


     3.  The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time–Mark Haddon 

     I could not suspend disbelief at all while reading this one.  Aspberger’s, smaspberger’s; the author didn’t know what he was talking about.


     4.  The Time Traveler’s Wife–Audrey Niffenegger 

     Boooring!  Jesus, get together already!  Do something, anything!  Shoot each other (or me) in the head, just get this over with!


     5.  The Pact–Jodi Picoult
 Actually, anything by Jodi Picoult.  I do not like the way she writes.


     6.  The Dogs of Babel–Carolyn Parkhurst
Once again, suspension of disbelief problems.  Also, I read the first couple of chapters, and then became afraid that there was going to be animal cruelty somewhere along the way.


     7.  The Historian–Elizabeth Kostova 

Incredibly monotonous, and I really tried with this novel–twice!


     8.  White Teeth–Zadie Smith
I just could not get into this.  Something about her writing really grated on me, so I only read a couple of chapters.


     9.  The Book Thief–Markus Zuzak


I’ve tried this several times, and I can’t seem to get past the first two or three chapters.  Maybe I’ll try again later.


     10.  Twilight–Stephanie Meyer

I got about halfway through this and then wondered why I stuck with it so long.  This is pedestrian tripe with terrible grammar.  The main characters are beautiful, of course, and oh, the vampires “glitter!”  Ugh.  Please don’t hate me if you’re a Twilight fan. 


Are there novels like these that leave you cold?  I’d love to hear about them!




  1. I got about two pages into The Time-Traveler’s Wife before I threw it away in frustration. I did manage to finish The Historian, though I can’t say I particularly enjoyed it.

    I liked The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, though, and I thought Twilight curiously addictive, even though I didn’t much care for the writing, or most of the characters.

  2. […] Original post by Bloody Hell, It’s a Book Barrage! […]

  3. I’m with you on 4,9 and 10.
    The first two are incredibly overrated. The third is, as you say, incredibly badly written.

  4. I’ve only read 3 and 4. I liked them. Can’t recall much more than that, tho. I’m bummed abt 7 & 9; these are on my distant tbr, so they will slip now. WOW-WHAT POWER YOU HOLD. One of my best reading buds can’t stand that Zadie Smith book, either. I’m scared to try Picoult but I’ll have to one of these days so I can justify my attitude on her. Let’s hope I don’t fall head over heals. Same with the Twilight phenom.

  5. oh, forgot to answer you Q!

    I was told by many that I would love Memory Keepers Daughter. I didn’t.

  6. The only one I’ve read is The Book Thief, and I didn’t like the first few chapters much either. So maybe it is worth another try.

  7. LOL! I’m in total agreement with 3,4, and 5. I hate Jodi Picoult’s stuff. It’s all just too formulaic and lacking in style. Tried Curious Incident, didn’t hate it, just couldn’t get into it. Time Traveler’s Wife is my all-time, throw it at the wall, give me ten minutes and I’ll go into a screaming rant on how a great idea was ruined -utterly ruined- by the author, shout at the futility of trained and educated authors being able to write books book!

    (Please add Empire Falls and The Life of Pi to the list)

  8. I agree with you on The Historian–a book I read based on the hype and abandoned because the heroine was, among other things, lame, weak, and a total push-over.

    Funny thing, I’m currently reading The Time Traveler’s Wife! I’m okay with it and I think I will finish it; I guess I’m just a sucker for a love story.

    You know I love Twilight and The Book Thief; Twilight because Edward Cullen is hot, Book Thief because Markus Zusak is hot…I think I’m a reader driven by hormones!

    As for hyped books that leave me cold: The Thirteenth Tale…the narrator was weird. She was “ravaged” by Vida Winter’s novels. Ravaged? Oh, come now….

  9. Thanks, everyone! I’m glad that so many of you agree about “The Time Traveler’s Wife,” and Tasses–right-on with the trained authors comment! Oh, and I haven’t read “The Life of Pi.” “Empire Falls” was just kind of okay. I could take it or leave it.

    Nymeth, I think I will try “The Book Thief” again and keep telling myself to keep going until I get past those introductory chapters.

    Care, “Memory Keeper’s Daughter” would’ve been 11th on my list! Ick!

    Stephen, I think we’re simpatico about practically everything literary!

    Love, I’ve talked to a few people who have said that I should have finished “Twilight” because the series gets a lot better after that. It was just too twee, ya’ know? The female protagonist is named Bella Swann–eww! Beautiful swan indeed! And then she’s thinking about how absolutely gorgeous Edward is every two seconds. He’s like some kind of vampire superstar or something. Blah! I’m glad you liked it, though ( :

    T Y–You aren’t alone in your appreciation of ‘Twilight” and “The Book Thief,” and yes, I agree with you that Edward and Markus Zusak are hot. Because of you, I now have that B&W photo of Gaspard set as my wallpaper. You keep me up to date with the latest and hottest!

  10. I actually liked 4, 7 and 10. 3 and 8 I’m fairly ambivalent about. I am totally 100% on board with #11. And I’d add The Poisonwood Bible.

  11. My list would have Memory Keeper’s Daughter in the number 1 spot.. oh and let’s not forget Bel Canto- Blech!!!!! Hated it!!!! Couldn’t finish it! Needed a big old barf bag! Yuck!!! THAT would be my #1!!

    I had issues with The Time Traveler’s Wife but didn’t hate it. I did not care for the main characters.. Claire was weak and Henry was, uh, um.. I don’t know what- but I didn’t like him much.

  12. i completely agree with you on #2 and #4! Personally I loved #9 although it did take a few chapters to get into the “feel” of it … on the other hand, my dad couldn’t get past the first few pages period.

  13. Softdrink, I haven’t read “The Poisonwood Bible.” Now I’m super glad that I haven’t!

    Lisa–Yeah, “Memory Keeper’s Daughter was sooo dumb, and luckily I haven’t read “Bel Canto.” Another one to avoid, thanks!

    Heather, Maybe I should try “The Book Thief” on tape because the story sounds fascinating. It’s just the writing I have problems with.

  14. I didn’t like Time Traveler’s Wife either. It was too predictable and too full of itself. Argh.

    I did however love Housekeeping but I can see how it could easily be a boring book. It just happened to strike me the right way. 🙂

  15. Yea, but. I liked The Poisonwood Bible – didn’t LOVE it but it was OK. I liked Bel Canto, too. I guess there’s no accounting for taste. ha! I think I will keep The Book Thief on the list – cuz Nymeth liked it!

    This is what makes book discussions fun. If everyone liked the same thing, we’d all be, “yep, it was good, now pour me some more wine and let’s talk about my cousin’s mother-in-law’s sister’ son and his affair with the post office lady’s daughter’s hairdresser’s surfing instructor’s wife”. But I don’t believe in gossip.

  16. I’m with you on The Historian and Jodi Picoult ran me off a couple of years ago with My Sister’s Keeper. Ugh. My friend threw White Teeth at me..he tried it and hated it and didn’t want it on his shelves anymore. So it’s on mine. I’ll give it a go then it’ll get mooched or swapped if it doesn’t take.

    Dogs of Babel – I read it, but that “meet cute” was impossibly long and unbelievable.

  17. Puss–I wonder why so many people raved about “The Time Traveler’s Wife.” In addition to its being deadly dull, I found the romance to be a little bit icky, didn’t you? Re: “Housekeeping,” some books are like that. You can “get into the zone” if the prose is lyrical enough.

    Care–Maybe I should try “The Poisonwood Bible.” For some reason, I have no desire to read “Bel Canto,” though. You’re right about it all being subjective.

    Bybee–Jodi Picoult, IMO, is waaay overrated, and I will never read her again! I continue to be thankful that I never finished “Dogs of Babel.”

  18. I have to say that I very much liked Curious Incident — but haven’t read any of the others. When I hear that I should read a book, that in itself tends to put me off….

    …but it’s an interesting concept. Ten books I should have liked. Hmm… will have to give that one some thought myself…

  19. I like White Teeth by Zadie Smith very much but I can’t stand The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles. I also try a new Thomas Hardy every 3 or 4 years and have yet to see the point (I’ve read 4 now).

  20. Totally with you on The Historian! However, beg to disagree about White Teeth, which is a big favourite of mine. However, one of my best friends hated WT to the point of now disregarding any book recommendations I give her. 🙂

  21. Jack–Hearing that I should read a book turns me off too. I did that with a book entitled “The Crimson Petal and the White.” Everybody loved it, but I thought it was never going to end! It’s all so subjective.

    Juxtabook–I don’t like Hardy either. The first Hardy novel I tried was “Jude the Obscure” and it had way too much animal torture (although Hardy was against animal cruelty) but that turned me off forever.

    Kirsty–Maybe “White Teeth” is one of those novels you absolutely love or absolutely hate. I think your friend should give you another chance, though.

  22. You didn’t like The Crimson Petal and the White?! Nooo! I *love* that book!

  23. Ha ha, I love these true confessions posts. I’m with ya on 3, 7, and especially 10. My list would also include Kite Runner and The Poisonwood Bible. Oh, and anything by Jane Austen. But darnit, I looooooooved The Crimson Petal and the White.

  24. Cold Mountain left me cold. Could not stand the writing nor the story. Tried real hard but oh well different stroked for different folks.
    I really do not like the Jodi Picoult books either. Again, tried but can’t do it.
    Enjoyed Curious Incident, didn’t feel it was worth the hype but enjoyed the story.

    I’m very curious to everyone’s reaction to The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. I enjoyed it vey much but it dragged some. Still highly recommend it.

  25. Sorry Kirsty and Julie, I thought “The Crimson Petal and the White” was way too long. I’m not much of a romantic, either, so that’s two strikes against it in my esteem.

    Catutes–I enjoyed Cold Mountain, especially the surreal stuff in the middle. Isn’t it interesting how one person’s trash can be another’s treasure?
    I just purchased “The Story of Edgar Sawtelle” for my Kindle. It sounds fascinating! I’ll have to let you know what I think.

  26. I HATED The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nigh-Time. I kept reading, expecting it to get better. It had to, right? Everybody was recommending it to me. Nope. Just not my style, I guess.

  27. I slogged through The Historian, but wasn’t particularly thrilled with it. I wasn’t blogging at the time, and I kind of live under a rock, so I didn’t know there was any “buzz” associated with it. I just pick up what I like.

    I know Lisa hated Bel Canto, but it’s in my top 3 all-time favorite books. It’s hands down the most beautiful story I’ve ever read. I’ve read most of Ann Patchett’s stuff.

    Atonement is on my I Hated It list. I just don’t seem to get what everyone else sees in it. Fortunately, I rarely finish a book I’m not enjoying, so I don’t regret too much wasted time.

    OH, I just finished An Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England…it’s a DO NOT READ. Hated it. I finished it only because it’s for my book club.

  28. Hi Redhead! Hooray, somebody finally agrees with me about “…Dog…!” I was beginning to think that I was perhaps too stupid to appreciate it.

    Trish–It’s so funny what appeals and what doesn’t. I liked “Atonement,” but my father and sister hated it. I also liked “…Writer’s Homes…” but only because there were moments of grace brought about by Mr. Clarke’s writing skills.

    Hey, it’s great to have you back! I was missing your fun comments.

  29. Char– I love Trish but she is nuts if she thinks Bel Canto is beautiful, IMO- now you really must read it and decide for yourself. Is it “beautiful” or is it “where’s my barf bag?”

  30. Lisa, all right, I’ll take you up on the “Bel Canto Beautiful Barf Bag Challenge.” I will read “Bel Canto” by the end of August and let you and Trish know what I think.

  31. My money is on the barf bag.

    Can’t wait to hear what you think!

  32. middlesex.. dumb!!!!!!!

  33. I love Bel Canto!!!

    I also love 1 and 9 on your list. I like 4.
    Haven’t read 2,6, or 10.
    Agree with you on the rest.

  34. hi jen–This is making me snicker because I recommended “Middlesex” to a friend and she hated it so much that she won’t listen to any book tips I give her now. Maybe someday she’ll forgive me.

    Lenore–so you didn’t like “…Curious Incident…” or “White Teeth” either. Yay, now I feel vindicated!

  35. I couldn’t get through The Time Traveler’s Wife. Boring slog and I wanted to smack them both upside the head. Not to mention it was a creepy premise in the long run.

    Trish hated Arsonist’s Guide? I picked it up because my favorite bookseller recommended it to me. OTOH she liked James Frey book and I didn’t think it was all that, but boy, did I feel vindicated when he confessed it was an embellished “true” story.

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