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Worst books you've ever read (1 Viewer)



Okay, fellow writers, time to think back to your high school days (and perhaps college too.) What were the worst books you ever had to read?

For me, it would be a Canadian offering by Margaret Laurence - "The Stone Angel." I read this in Grade 12. The worst part was having to look for imagery surrounding birds and animals for some project. I had to pinch myself every so often to keep with this book.

The book's plot, if I can call it that, is much too simple. A 90-year-old woman named Hagar Shipley is dying in some hospital, and basically complains about her life. Her mother dies giving birth to her, and she takes care of her father after the deaths of her two brothers, and then he dies. She then takes care of her husband while raising two sons, then the husband dies. (Hagar's younger son dies at some point, too.) There's this scene at some water tower which is completely forgetable, and then we're back at the hospital again, where Hagar meets this girl named Sandra Wong. (I was relieved to be just about done with the book at this point!) Hagar is about ready to kick the bucket at this point. A final scene involves her trying to drink a glass of water before she enters into eternal rest.

And you won't believe how Margaret Laurence ends this book: "And then-" WHAT A WAY TO END A NOVEL!!! "And then-" And then what, you ask? AND THEN SHE DIES!!! Ooooh, what an ending!! Christ, even my grandmother could have come up with something better than "And then-" To say I was dissatisified would be an understatement. :roll:

But I'll admit some good came from me reading this book. For one thing, it made me appreciate "To Kill a Mockingbird," and I didn't find THAT one enthralling either!

Then there's "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest." You won't find this one exciting as well, unless you consider a bunch of old guys trapped in and around a mental hospital exciting. I could stay with this book for the first four or five chapters before losing interest.

But believe me, "The Stone Angel" is way worse. Swear to God, the high school English curriculum is in dire need of a makeover. Get rid of all the garbage, and replace with some police and crime novels, with a lot of action and fine dialouge. Or perhaps a novel about some college boys who idolise their favourite sports hero who has a charity, and they learn about themselves as they help him and his family with fundraisers and benefits. Something that'll keep us on our toes and interested. Something that'll perhaps inspire us to do something good. Maybe then we'll have more attentive students in class.

Does anyone agree with me here?


Senior Member
You do understand of course that you just characterized two of this century's masterpieces as ''the worst books'' you ever read.Namely the last two.

Zachary Glass

Senior Member
Worst Book

AN ORDINARY WHITE BOY I can't even remember the name of the author. I wouldn't want to give it on the off-hand chance that somebody goes out to read it. Don't bother. It was horrible. The cover sold me. It was a white background, a twenty-something lounging on a red couch with a book or a newspaper covering his face, I can't remember which now, and I thought it was so appealing, so intriguing. I hate when great covers hide hideous crap! Don't read this book. It was drivel and nonsense. There's my opinion for the day!


Senior Member
I'm sure there've been a couple bad books that I've read, but I think I've blocked them all from my memory. Actually . . . no.

Memoirs of a Girlhood among ghosts (or something along those lines) by Maxine Hong Kingston was rather horrible, as was Life of Pi by Yann Matel and Bird by Bird by Anne Lamotte. I was only been able to get through two chapters of the third book before I had to put it down.


Senior Member
The Stone Angel is wasted on most high school children. I didn't appreciate some of the books I was forced to read in High School. The Great Gatsby is chief amongst these titles I've gone back to later in life and enjoyed immensely.

I'm not even going to try and explain Laurence's book to you, but it does help characterize a mindset and expectation placed upon women in a different era, or is that era so different? An interesting read if you're looking at it in the right light, and for the right elements. The Stone Angel isn't Batman Beyond.

I think the worst book I've ever read would have to be one by Lin Carter. One of the Green Star series. They're all written in a pretty oversimplified fashion, trying too hard to emulate Burroughs and coming off really sketchy because of it.


WF Veterans
uhg, Ursula Leguin's "Four Ways to Forgivness" I found it in a used book store after reading "The Wizrd of Earthsea" Imagine my disapointment in finding such an awful novel from a writer who's stuff I enjoyed...


Lily said:
Memoirs of a Girlhood among ghosts (or something along those lines) by Maxine Hong Kingston was rather horrible,

Actually, the book was titled The Woman Warrior; Memories of a Girlhood Among Ghosts I read that one for school, and thought it was fine. It was actually the most enjoyable book I read for that class, but I guess it's just a matter of taste. I liked Kingston's use of Chinese mythology in her story about the girl's life; the two elements were almost inseparable, and you couldn't tell when she was being serious or metaphorical. Very artistic.

I'm having trouble thinking up books I disliked. It seems like I complain endlessly when I actually have to read the things, but currently I'm drawing a blank.

Hmm . . . The most memorable dissapointment for me was Susan Cooper's Seaward. She's a great writer; her "Dark is Rising" series was spectacular and remains one of my favorites. But Seaward was uninteresting. She tried for a lot of life and death allegory, and it didn't . . . quite work.

There was one memorable part, though. These kids are climbing up a steep rock face with the terrible face of woman's statue watching them. The trek is difficult, and they figure out that the wicked face of the woman symbolizes the difficulty of the terrain. They reach the top, pass the statue, and look down on an easy descent. Then, the statue suddenly rotates so that the evil face is looking at them again, and a vicious snow storm suddenly begins . . . .


Senior Member
Ralizah said:
The Great Gatsby is an influential classic, yet, I hate it.

I agree with you wholeheartedly :!: I just couldn't stand all that symbolism, and it was such a pain to read through the novel and point out everything that suggested symbolism.



worst book? hmmm. I'd have to say MASON & DIXON by Thomas Pynchon. This from the same beloved author of Gravity's Rainbow, and V. It was like reading Finnegan's Wake without a storyline. LOL


Senior Member
there was a fantasy book called Eye of the Empress that I just could never get through. Ugh.


Senior Member
I can't remember the writer (Jonathan something I think) but "The Relic", I read 'some' of it recently, worst bok ever, no research. 13th century people who speak just like us, horrible.


The Great Gatsby and Crime and Punishment are two books that I really did not like reading, although they are classics. They were just boring.


Worst book I've read must be. Left Behind by LaHaye Jenkins which is tied close with The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros


I second "The House on Mango Street." It's like, that woman may be a good poet, but she should stick to poetry. She's got WAAAY too many metaphors just thrown in there for her own kicks. Not good stuff, in my opinion.


Yeah thats what I mean also. She almost gives off an arrogant vibe, or a rehearsed one.


Senior Member
Anything and everything by John Grisham. What a hack. Absolutely no insight whatsoever. Just surface junk. And not even good surface junk. A pure trash novelist. He's the literary equvilent of Britney Spears. I see the same critique on all of his books; "the pages just flew by." Why is this considered a compliment? Of course it flew by, that's what happens when you don't have to stop and think about anything.

To WritingWeirdo: I agree with you on "Great Gatsby", completely overrated, though I wouldn't go so far as to call the worst book I've ever read. But "Crime and Punishment" was absolutely brilliant. All of Dostoevsky's works have great pyschological and philosophical insights (particularly "Notes from Underground"). All I can say is take pysche and philosophy courses in college, then read it again. I think you'll be able to appreciate it on a whole other level.

Jane Jones

Gods and Generals... a monotonous, anti-climatic, humdrum piece of work disguised as an epic. I'd much prefer The Killer Angels


Well, guess I'm the only one here who likes Gatsby (and the symbolism was quite obvious anyway, wasn't it?). :p

As for the books I hated, nothing comes to mind right now...I consider some of Isaac Asimov's stories hackneyed or just badly executed, but that's all I can think of right now (then again, I haven't read all that many books).


Senior Member
I read the back cover, and last 10 pages of Gatsby because I had to write a book report on it. Wasn't too bad from what I could tell.