The Best Worst Book

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The Best Worst Book

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Juin 14, 2007, 8:35am

We've all had to read things we didn't like. For example, back in High School, I hated Hemingway and found Alexander Pope excrutiating. BUT, struggling through Pope broadened my appreciation of well-crafted poetry and I ultimately came to rather enjoy the fellow, and even if it was a long time before I actually liked Hemingway, I found reading him introduced me to some times and places I found rather interesting.

Are there other "awful" works we're glad we've read?

Juin 14, 2007, 9:09am

James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. O. M. G., how I hated that in high school. Then I read it again in college – at least once, maybe twice – and actually almost liked it.

I also hated Robert Segal's Myth: a Very Short Introduction – dense & dry – but I learned a great deal from it.

Then there's David Berlinski's A Tour of the Calculus. There's great stuff to be found, but it's nestled among bushels of the. worst. kind of bad florid prose. I actually feel embarrassed for the guy when I hit those parts. I don't quite know if I'm glad to have read it, though: I'm certainly glad to have learned what I did, but do I appreciate getting it from that book?...I'm not sure. I guess I'll take a cue from Moe the Bartender and say I am glad to have read it in that I don't resent having spent time reading it.

Déc 1, 2007, 4:05pm

Have to add my two cents in here....
Do you perversely desire stereotypical characters with absolutely no depth? Have you ever wanted to read sex scenes concocted by desperate virgins with utterly no knowledge of human erogynous zones who substitute with the usual crude euphemisms? Are you hankering for that lovely if-this-goes-on-any-longer-I'll-stick-a-fork-in-my-own-eye feeling you get from too many spelling and grammatical errors from people that you really feel should know better?
If so, visit any Harry Potter fanfiction site near you. I say this as one who loves her fanfiction and her fandom, but believe me...there's an ugly side to it. Very, very ugly. I mention this because honest to God, no book I have ever read can compare to what I have seen in that one fanon alone.

Déc 1, 2007, 4:09pm

But more to the point, I despised "Animal Farm" (THEY SENT THE HORSE OFF TO THE GLUE FACTORY! DAMN FASCIST PORCINES!) I also really don't like Henry-Look-How-Much-Flowery-Prose-I-Can-Write James. I mean, it takes the heroine of "The Turn of the Screw" three to five paragraphs to say "I was becoming suspicious of my seemingly angelic charges." That's really all it boils down to, but good grief!
I appreciate a little brevity now and then.

Déc 2, 2007, 12:35pm

I just reread Animal Farm and I loved it! I think it's brilliant . . . in part because it's short. I wouldn't like it so much if it had gone on for 200 or more pages.

I kinda like Henry-Look-How-Much-Flowery-Prose-I-Can-Write James, but it's fun to make fun of him.

Mar 14, 2008, 3:53pm

The Republic and The Prince were needed for me to truly grasp philosophy, but I can't say I TRULY enjoyed them. I think it's more of a I'm-looking-back-on-what-I've-learned-so-maybe-it-was-kinda-enjoyable type thing. Yeah.

Mar 17, 2008, 9:49pm

I hated the horrible translation of Beowulf we had to read in HS -- however, now that I have read it, and re-read it, and re-re-re-re-read it in its original language, it is awesome! I liked Hermann Hesse in HS -- I was assigned to read ALL of the novels that had been translated into English. Steppenwolf and Beneath the Wheel are still my favorites, but I liked them in HS because -- no matter how depressed I was about my life -- their lives were so much worse! THEN, she assigned me Jorge Luis Borges and THEN Franz Kafka -- who DID she think I was???

Mar 18, 2008, 4:27am

I actually really disliked The Great Gatsby, one of the most boring bits of literature I've read.

Mar 18, 2008, 4:28am

But I forgot to add, the worst book I have ever read hands down would be David Beckham's biography. I have never read so much poor grammar, cliche and supplicating in my life.

Mar 18, 2008, 5:31pm

I was not awestruck by One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Certainly, an admirable book, with a great lesson to teach. However, for me, it did not live up to the hype.

Mar 19, 2008, 2:09pm

I'd have to nominate The Old Man and the Sea (by Hemingway, naturally). Read it first at about 12 (didn't get it), again at about 15 (got it, I thought, but found it tedious and horrible), then again at 27 (finally actually got it and really liked it). Even though I hated it as a younger woman, I'm glad my teachers made me read it, since it was a good introduction to that particular style of writing. Plus, it was a relatively easy book to dissect, which gave me the confidence to dislike a classic. I may have changed my mind on that one, but I appreciated learning how to do so nonetheless.

And this one might horrify some people, but I'm also going to nominate The Holy Bible*. My family is super-religious, so I had to read large swaths of the thing as a child, and let me tell you, all that begetting got really tedious. Anyway, fast forward to college and adulthood. Only then did I begin to realize how common biblical allusions are, in literature, movies, even tv. So while I didn't enjoy hearing about ancient peoples slaughtering each other then begetting like bunnies,** I'm definitely glad I was forced to obtain that knowledge.

*Had to add the Holy or the touchstone went to The Cake Bible. Bwahaha! Now I think it just doesn't work.
**Sorry if I offended anyone with my off-handed dismissal here- yes, I agree, there's a lot more to the Bible than slaughter and begetting, and good chunks of it are quite beautiful. Bigger chunks are about slaughter and begetting, though, at least in the OT, and that was funnier to write.

Modifié : Mar 19, 2008, 2:24pm

Theodore Dreiser writes clunky prose but his largely forgotten novel Jennie Gerhardt still worth reading.

Mar 19, 2008, 7:46pm

Kplatypus - I could understand why you didn't like Old Man and The Sea. Hemingway has a very plain way of writing and the story is quite cruel actually. I didn't mind the book. My problem is Farewell to Arms, a much worse Hemingway book, IMHO.

Mar 24, 2008, 11:40am

When I was in highschool, we had to read quite a bit of William Blake's Songs of Innocence and Experiance. It was excrutiating at the time because I'm not a fan of poetry. None of his artwork accompanied the poems.

After college, when I started reading other poets from the time, learned about his life and the time period, and discovered his watercolors, I started falling in love with him. I started with some of the oldies-The Tyger, etc., and worked my way up to The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, then used him as a foray into Milton because of how much I loved his artwork for Paradise Lost.

If the name hadn't sounded so familiar from all the bad poetry I tried to block out from highschool, I never would have spent so much time looking at his art and learning to appreciate him so much. So-short answer, Songs of Innocence is the best worst book I ever had to read.

Avr 25, 2008, 7:15pm

I recently finished Sacred Games for my book club, and I kind of hate to say that it is my least favourite book I have read in a very long time.
The story itself was fascinating; however the comparisons to Dickens were exaggerated and, in my opinion, kind of insulting to Dickens.
Bah. I resented reading every page.

Avr 25, 2008, 8:21pm

Best/worst book is an accurate description for me. I have listened to two audiobooks now by Nicholas Sparks and there are so many times that listening to them, I rolled my eyes and said, "Yeah, right." I have even finished sentences for the reader before he has said them because it's so predictable and still I keep listening because as sappy as his books are I guess I'm still a romantic.

Avr 26, 2008, 11:54am

#15 That is quite a long book to resent every page (Sacred Games by Vikram Chandra). I am about 200 pages into its 900 or so; so far it is everything that I had hoped for. A good police story, a good novel. We will see if it sustains.

Avr 26, 2008, 11:54am

#15 That is quite a long book to resent every page (Sacred Games by Vikram Chandra). I am about 200 pages into its 900 or so; so far it is everything that I had hoped for. A good police story, a good novel. We will see if it sustains.

Avr 27, 2008, 12:36pm

#17- I know, and I feel like I should have enjoyed it. I'd be interested in hearing what you think of it when you finish.

Avr 28, 2008, 9:11am

I read Anna Karenina when I was a teenager. I truly loved the portions of the novel that were about Anna and Count Vronski, but I absolutely hated the long sections that were about Levin and his thoughts on wheat-growing. I couldn't have cared less about wheat and just wanted Tolstoy to get back to the love story. I'm glad I got through it because it's a great novel. And I'm good about eating whole grains now, so maybe it influenced me in other ways too.

Avr 28, 2008, 9:48am

For me, it was A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess. I found it tedious.

Avr 28, 2008, 9:48am

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Avr 28, 2008, 4:28pm

#3: Pick up a copy of Harold Robbins's The Carpetbaggers at a thrift store near you. Robbins types fiction that's at least as bad as most fanfic. In fact, at first that's what I thought you were talking about in your post. But if you pay more than $.10 for it you'll be paying too much.

Mai 15, 2008, 11:27pm

Ditto for Sidney Sheldon. I found one of his buried in my parent's trash can when I was a kid, right where it belonged. Even at ten I could see he was lousy.

Modifié : Nov 7, 2013, 12:18pm

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Nov 29, 2008, 7:28pm

Daniel Deronda by George Eliot. At the time I found it quite a slog! Especially the lengthy digressions that sometimes overwhelmed the story itself. And yet, after all that labourious reading and footnote-checking, I had this immense appreciation of the book's ambition and intelligence.