Books 1: What’s The Worst Book You’ve Ever Read?

Reading & Writing

Looking down the list of books I couldn’t finish, I’m aware that sometimes it’s my fault, not the writer’s. For example, ‘The Rehearsal’ by Eleanor Catton has been hailed as a brilliant insight into the teenaged mind but I fell so often at about the page 20 mark that I began to think I was missing a part of my brain. Therefore I set it aside and figured there are some good books not aimed at me, and Ms Catton’s is one of them. No such problem with Kate Mosse’s ‘Labyrinth’, though, which is so howlingly cliche-ridden that you want to read out bits of it to friends down the pub.
Now, everyone I know in the publishing world says that Ms Mosse is a charming, delightful person, which is good because she needs a sense of humour to read the astonishing barrage of negative reviews on Amazon that only redouble with her next book, ‘Sepulchre’. Of course, ‘Twilight’ is a shockingly lousy read but that didn’t stop it from selling millions, so does it matter that we fusspot grammarians aren’t catered for here? Probably not. What’s your all-time worst book?

12 comments on “Books 1: What’s The Worst Book You’ve Ever Read?”

  1. Nicola says:

    ‘The Historian’ by Elizabeth Kostova was pretty poor – it was all written in letters and some of those letters were recounting other letters. It was really annoying and I don;t know why I bothered finishing it. (Actually, some of it may have been diaries, but that doesn’t make it any better.)

    And it was waaaaay too long. There’s nothing worse than a book that should have finished a hundred pages earlier.

  2. Helen Martin says:

    I assume you mean a seriously written book. (I read quite a bit of silly stuff, but it’s intended as frivol.) A few years back an author offered a free copy of his novel to any book crosser who asked for it. I have erased the title from my mind, but it was about a man who was sure he could become a free soul by becoming a mountain goat. He climbed up into the mountains with his goatskin and mask and fought to stay clear of a wolf pack. He was doing psychedelics while doing this. I think I got what the writer was trying for, but he didn’t succeed and the reviews from around the world were devastatingly negative. Most people didn’t finish it. I did, but the overheated atmosphere and the feeling that the author was doing drugs while he wrote made for a very uncomfortable read. There are images still in my memory that I could live without.

  3. I.A.M. says:

    Possibly a surprise to some who know I enjoy SF, Dune by Frank Herbert. I tried to start it twice, got to page 12 or so, became so frustrated and uninterested it was laid aside with intention to attempt it again most recently in 1988. S0o far nothing has tempted a return.

    Granted, there’s Anna Karenina as well, but we’ve already heard about that torture here…

  4. BangBang!! says:

    Probably one of those Anita Blake vampire hunter books. I got about a third of the way through and just couldn’t cope with the banality of it. I don’t even know why I bought it – there was probably nothing in the horror section except goth girl vampire fantasies. I understand the series has basically become soft porn now.

  5. Chris Tandy says:

    The one about the Vatican, by Dan Brown. I forget its title, all his novels seem to be the same one. It was the literary equivalent of some gloopy sweet pudding that slides down your gullet in little spoonsful and gives mere nanoseconds of pleasure.
    Total rubbish, but I was impressed by the way Mr Brown described his hero as ‘looking like Bruce Willis’ (I may have got the wrong Hollywood star, and I’m not wading through it again to find I am wrong…). Was this a (then) pre-emptive strike on a future film? Pity for Dan Brown that he got Tom Hanks.
    Come to think of it, pity for Tom Hanks he was gotten by Dan Brown…

  6. Rich says:

    Not read ‘Labyrinth’ but heard Mosse on A Good Read a few weeks ago. A guest complained about all the grammatical, spelling mistakes etc in the book they were discussing. Mosse said it didn’t bother her. Judging by the amount of bad reviews on Amazon UK concerning grammer and spelling errors in ‘Labyrinth’ her comment didn’t surprise me.

    Worst book that springs to mind is ‘Blowfly’ by Patricia Cornwell. Lazy, uninvolving, pointless.

  7. Steve says:

    As much as I love him, the one book I have started but not been able to finish was Michael Palin’s Diaries of the Python Years. They were quite literally that, ‘Monday – got up, went to see dad, had a script reading at 2, Graham was pissed’ etc etc. I suppose being the ‘nice one’ there wasn’t going to be much excitement and controversy but I feel it would have been better in an abridged version! By the way, Rich (see previous comment re: Kate Mosse), you really should spell check your comments before criticising other people’s grammar and spelling!

    PS any mistakes people may find in this are purely ironic!

  8. martin says:

    The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold. Just awful. I would have thrown it in the river, but I was camping in a wilderness area.

  9. Rich says:

    I wasn’t criticising Kate Mosse’s grammar and spelling. I haven’t read Labyrinth, or any of her novels. Thanks for pointing out my mistakes. At least SOMEONE noticed.

  10. Gill Whiteley says:

    Don’t know about all-time worst (there could be others out there!)but when I was proof reading for a large print book company Geoff Boycott’s autobiography almost had me in tears it was so awful. Sadly I didn’t have the luxury of not finishing it as I was getting paid to read it. I’m sorry to say that I thought “Sepulchre” was worse than “Labyrinth” and “The Da Vinci Code” was worse than both of them!

  11. Reuben says:

    The last really bad book I’ve read was PS I LOVE YOU. Apparently it was written by a grown up woman and not a 10 year old with a limited vocabulary as I originally thought.

  12. Phoenix Jackson says:

    There and many books that I have read and considered really bad. Many of which I’m too embarrassed to name because some are suppose to be totally world classic.

    The Golden Gate by Vikrah Seth.

    I really tried to get through it, but it came to the point where the eyes refused to scan across the pages. I ended up buying the audio book on special, and although it gave a better understanding of the story the concept of story into verses just boarded me. I love the musicals but this was not me.

    Persuasions by Jane Austen

    For god sakes Jane I want to like you like every bloody else.

    “life is Jane Austen”.if I hear that one more time I’ll start to “Spank” them.

    I’ve never been into the classics, but of course shoot me now I seen the American movie The Jane Austen Book Club and thought wow she must be really good.

    Of course you heard people talking in the back ground after the theater had finished about their favorite Jane Austen book which made me more wanting to jump on the band wagon and explore this Jane Austen myself.

    Her writing is sooooo passive and there is so much blar blar blar.

    I think when picking a book or even writing a story it reflects an individuals sex drive. Some like the slow and tantalizing drawn righttttt out. While for some that’s great but may fall asleep right in the middle of someone master piece

    Others like me like to get down to the dirty business something more aggressive.

    My theory; stories reflects the sex drive, good strong aggressive hard sex or the slowly and tender.

    All stories reflect ones sex drive. I like to get down to the dirty.

    Chris, thank you for giving birth to “Spanky”

    Phoenix. J

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