Boxall's 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die discussion

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worst books on the list

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message 1: by Danielle (new)

Danielle | 16 comments i've found a few books i just didn't like, or couldn't figure out why they would place them on a 'read before you die' list. i was wondering if anyone else found such books, or if i'm the only one to dare to be so blasphemous.
to start, i couldn't stomach On Beauty, which i found trite and predictable. the writing was bland. not enough to turn me off other zadie smith books, but as i haven't tried any, i wonder how they'll be.
american psycho- another book that i tried to appreciate. it wasn't just gory or uncomfortable: i read lolita and although it was a difficult topic to read about, the writing was brilliant. it got to be overly picturesque and i found the detailed description of clothing clever although dull.
name of the rose: umberto eco, which was painfully boring. rather than give up on it a couple chapters in, i turned to audio books (do those count) and i nearly fell asleep on the freeway. and it's not that i don't love needless detail- i adore les miserable, even the unedited version.
on the other hand, i should take it for a good omen that of the 100+ i've read, there are only a few i really don't like...


message 2: by Kecia (new)

Kecia | 46 comments Danielle - I found a few books I didn't like as well. One was American Psycho. I actually bought that book the very first day it was released. I wanted to know what all the fuss was about. There were protesters in front of the bookstore that day! I found out quickly enough. I still have nightmares about it! I keep it hidden in a box in the basement.

The other one I didn't like was The Corrections. I'll admit the character development was excellent but I never figured out what Franzen was trying to say. It felt like a big waste of precious time.

I'm currently reading Portnoy's Complaint which is getting a little long and obnixous. I keep hoping it will pay off in the end.


message 3: by Yelena (new)

Yelena Malcolm | 110 comments This is why this group is so fascinating! Danielle and Ivy, you have both named books that I count among my favorites: Name of the Rose, American Psycho, Portnoy's Complaint. On Beauty was one of the first books I read when I started the list (I mean of the books I hadn't read already), and was one of the few I enjoyed.

I have found a number of the recent books included (I'm doing the list backwards) to be really quite terrible (I'm looking at you The Red Queen) and many to be merely sufferable. But seeing which ones you two hated, I realize that some of the group might have adored the books I loathed.

I will agree with you on The Corrections. I knew from page 1 that I was going to despise the book - I found the writing to be so incredibly self-conscious and labored.



message 4: by Amber (new)

Amber (amberpic) | 22 comments Of the books that I've read from the list and disliked, they're all ones that I had to read for classes.

I read Toni Morrison for two classes and I just don't like her books. I tried, but I think they're overrated. Just because the concepts are obscure and complicated, doesn't mean it's great literature. Ditto for being a part of Oprah's Book Club.

And I read the Lord of the Flies in junior high and hated it. I can't remember why, but the impression has definitely stuck with me. I might give that one another chance, though.

Interestingly, I had to read The Godfather for a class, and expected to hate it, but thought it was really great.


message 5: by Heather (new)

Heather (readingaddict) I too am not a Toni Morrison fan ... I just don't GET her at all ...

I think some of my favorites will be on other peoples worst lists - two that come to mind are Bleak House and A Tale of Two Cities. Anyone read those lately?

Ones I didn't like include: Heart of Darkness, Catcher in the Rye, and Walden.


message 6: by Yelena (new)

Yelena Malcolm | 110 comments Yup, Heather, I can pretty much cross off the entirety of British Victorian fiction without loosing much sleep, whereas I'm sure the favoritism I show the modernists would provoke a similar distaste from others.

But Heart of Darkness? Jeez, I think that one's pretty stellar.


message 7: by Kecia (new)

Kecia | 46 comments I agree Yelena...it's fascinating how one book speaks to one person but not to another. Luckily there are 1001 books here...something for everyone!

I love Toni Morrison...to me it's like reading a song with no words (does that make sense?) and then at the end you feel like you've been punched in the gut! I almost don't want to read Morrison because the gut punch reaction is just awful...but the music of her writing keeps me going back for more.

I wonder why many people do not like books that are assigned for classes? Amber can you shed some light on that? I'm a geek and I always love-loved being assigned books. A good friend is a professor and I'm always helping her find books to use for her classes. The most recent one, a list book I think, was Allende's The House of the Spirits. She used for Women in Social Movements class. It's such a wonderful book and I would hate for anyone not to like because it was assigned reading.

Heather - I read a Tale of Two Cities a little over a year ago and I thought it was brillant! I haven't read Bleak House yet. It's only been on my To-Read list since 1993! Sheesh! I really shoud get around to it. Loved the Masterpiece Theatre production of it so I'm sure I'll the book!




message 8: by Yelena (new)

Yelena Malcolm | 110 comments Ivy,
I found that a lot of books I didn't read when they were assigned were books I really enjoyed later when I read them. I think a lot of it might have to do with the time constraints. In many of my literature classes we were dealing with a book every week or two, and while that might be plenty of time to read it, it wasn't plenty of time to discuss it - so that might account for some the antipathy towards assigned reading.


message 9: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca (rebsbooks) Yelena,

I think our tastes are similar. And I also have disliked books when assigned, but enjoyed them later on.

LOVE Name of the Rose (the movie too!) I love Eco in general, all except for Baudolino. I couldnt even finish it (VERY RARE). I can, on the other hand, see how one might not like Name of the Rose--he does fill his books with TONS of references--some very esoteric. I'm still working my way through Foucault's Pendulum.

LOVE Heart of Darkness.

HATED Lord of the Flies. Assigned in 7th AND 8th grades!

I O.D.ed on Margaret Atwood and Toni Morrison in college and high school, respectively (although I do think I enjoyed The Handmaid's Tale and The Bluest Eye).

I've promised a friend I will give Jane Austen another try. Doesn't help, I think, that my mother started me off with Northanger Abbey. Even hardcore Austen fans say that isn't her best.


message 10: by Paul (new)

Paul Bryant Just dropped in on your conversation here and noted that I have very different opinions - I would cheerfully ban American Psycho and burn every copy, and dedicate the resulting large bonfire to all female victims of male violence, whether actual or written - as the bonfire gets really going I would like to organise a vote amongst the gathered crowd to see if we should toss Brett Easton Ellis on it too, just to prevent any possible American Psycho Two; The Corrections, I thought was a brilliant rendering of contemporary angst (allowing for a little too much slapstick in eastern Europe), and JF has a breathtaking prose style. Oh well, you can't please 'em all!


message 11: by Charity (new)

Charity (charityross) | 687 comments Mod
I agree wholeheartedly with your take on The Corrections, Ivy. I really wanted to love that book, but it just didn't deliver for me. The only saving grace for that book was the character development. However, that didn't necessarily mean I was able to identify with any of them....and when you can't identify with any of them, you don't really care what happens to them.

The worst books for me were:

Everything is Illuminated- maybe I'm wrong on this one. But, I just haven't been able to get through it, yet. Perhaps I will pick it up again sometime and it will amaze me. For now, my impression when reading it is...*YAWN*.

The Reader- I could not appreciate this book at all. To me, it was like reading a German version of Harold and Maude. Dull, dull, dull.

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold- Okay. So I admit I'm not much of a 'Cold War spy' fan. I think that you really have to enjoy that genre to be able to love this book. I have never read any other John Le Carre books, so that could have added to the confusion I felt while reading this. However, other people who have read Le Carre's other books say this is his best. I hold true that you just have to really like this particular genre to be able to enjoy this book.


As for American Psycho, I own it but have not read it. I am now looking forward to reading it to see how my own take on it compares.

I have found that it has been much harder to appreciate the more contemporary works as a general rule...with very few exceptions. Maybe it is because they haven't 'stood the test of time'? Who knows? I've been taking a contemporary fiction break and started reading a few classics. This will either make the modern reads seem refreshing or trite in comparison.


message 12: by Charity (new)

Charity (charityross) | 687 comments Mod
I would like to add that I agree 100% with Yelena.

Sometimes assigned reading (for a class) is forever marked as awful...usually unfairly. Maybe it is due to the age you are when you read the book? Maybe it is because you didn't choose what you read? Maybe it is because you had to spend your time critiquing it to death, that it wasn't pleasurable reading? Maybe it is due to the time restraints you had to endure, like Yelena suggested?

Whatever the reason, there are a lot of great books out there that have been ruined by assigned reading. I really urge all to give them a try again later and see if your take isn't altered.

I had HATED A Separate Peace when it was assigned to me as a freshman in high school. I reread it when I was 23 and LOVED it. I know a lot of people hated The Great Gatsby, The Catcher in the Rye, Animal Farm, Lord of the Flies, etc. when they were assigned in school, but loved them when they reread them as adults. Since none of these titles are very long, they are good, quick 'pick-up' books that would be easy to reread.

I was fortunate that none of the above mentioned titles were assigned to me in school and that I got to pick them up of my own accord for 'pleasure reading'...and maybe a little unfortunate because I had to read 'heavier' titles (for AP and Honors English) such as Tess of the D'Urbervilles, The Scarlet Letter, The Killer Angels, Decision in Philadelphia: The Constitutional Convention of 1787, etc. I might attempt to reread these at a future date to see if I can appreciate them now.




message 13: by Amber (new)

Amber (amberpic) | 22 comments I just remembered that I also hated(!) The Once and Future King, which was also an assigned reading from a class.

Me being the huge nerd that I am, there are actually very few books that I dislike. It just so happens that they usually came from classes. Probably because I have a good sense of what I'll like, so I don't generally dislike something I've picked out myself.

However, I took several classes that had some amazing works that I probably never would have picked up otherwise. The Godfather is one I referenced above, and we did a section in high school on Central and South American literature, and everything we read was amazing.

As for Dickens, I love his books, but I can totally see how other people would not. It's a difficult style to read, some might say boring.

And there are also several books that I really hated on first reading, but upon revisiting them, I liked them more. Ulysses comes to mind. Maybe that just comes with having more "life experience" to make the reading relevant.


message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

I also was required to read "Heart of Darkness" in high school, and then again in college, and I felt entirely different about it the second time around. I hated it the first time, and loved it the second. The same goes for Albert Camus' "The Plague," which I recommend to EVERYONE.

I guess, point being, if I ever had one, is that some things need time to digest, and things happen in life that cause us to change our minds. Not that I'm suggesting to read the entire list twice.....

For what it's worth, remembering "A Tale of Two Cities" makes me more than slightly nauseous. Perhaps I should give it another go, as 7 years have passed since I've last picked it up.


message 15: by Yelena (new)

Yelena Malcolm | 110 comments I should mention, in the interest of full disclosure, that after having read through books 1-4 of Remembrance of Things Past, I was assigned Swann's Way by itself in, I kid you not, four separate classes in college. I think my determination to read books 5-7 will forever be stunted by that ridiculousness.

Just a note on American Psycho, since it has cropped up as being contentious on several of these boards. My own interpretation of the book depended heavily on seeing it as satire. Yes, the book is provocative, I believe intentionally so, but I have always thought that reading the violence as literal was missing the boat a little. What I found brilliant about the book (a theme that Fight Club also takes up) is violence as a means of expressing nihilism. I'll probably get hauled off to the proper police for this, but I find American Psycho to be an immensely funny book - it is so over the top and so ridiculous that I chuckle every time I read it. I don't think this will change anyone's mind about the book who already has strong opinions, but I honestly don't think the book has anything substantive to do with hurting women.


message 16: by Judith (new)

Judith (jloucks) | 1203 comments Are "nerds" what we are if we are generally appreciative of all the classic books we read? I know that I find enough in each one to justify some acclaim at the time I read it even if I do rather quickly forget a good deal about it...Anyway, I'm glad to read someone else describe the phenomena.

I remember at least liking all the books assigned in my classes, and really loving some of them. I especially remember A Separate Peace as a favorite

But I do agree with all who are saying that the timing of the exposure is an important element. I have different favorites for each period in my life related to a discovery I was making about life and literature at the time. When these are re-read they could never live up to my memories. All The King's Men (Penn Warren) particularly fits here, read as an innocent college student...and Wuthering Heights as a high schooler, etc.


message 17: by Deborah (new)

Deborah (thebookishdame) | 20 comments I suppose we probably are nerdish...or at least we're "proud to be bookish" Judith! I loved all my assigned reading in all my schools, too; except James Joyce's "Ulysses" and "Gulliver's Travels." Just the thought of Gulliver nearly makes me wretch!!
Some of my favorite books are from school assignments:
Scarlet Letter - Hawthorne
Wuthering Heights - Bronte
To The Lighthouse - Woolfe


message 18: by Liz (new)

Liz I notice a few of you did not like Lord of the Flies --perhaps you were too young when you had to 'study' it? I recently reread it at a ripe old age and found it summed up what life was all about -- although it is a rather dismal summary!


message 19: by Liz (new)

Liz Danielle, perhaps you should try White Teeth by Zadie Smith. I enjoyed that one more than On Beauty.


message 20: by Danielle (new)

Danielle | 16 comments Ivy- i'll have to give eco another try. name of the rose is the only one i picked up. i really want to feel like i'll give an author another try, but time's so short, it's hard to go back when you've had a distasteful experience.

Amber- i liked lord of the flies even as a youngster. i think the concepts might be more appreciated as an adult. i'd recommend you try it again. it's so widely referenced, it's a good one to be familiar with.

and i adore walden. i think i have every other page underlined!


message 21: by Danielle (new)

Danielle | 16 comments charity wrote: "I have found that it has been much harder to appreciate the more contemporary works as a general rule...with very few exceptions. Maybe it is because they haven't 'stood the test of time'? Who knows? I've been taking a contemporary fiction break and started reading a few classics. This will either make the modern reads seem refreshing or trite in comparison."


i agree whole-heartedly. it's really difficult for me to get into 'modern' literature. i like the books that can still speak to me after having aged for so long. i think so many modern writers get stuck trying to make a book relate to our generation, it becomes dated after a couple years (note: books written just before the advent of cell phones... i giggle when i come across any reference to car phones, gaudy things that they were)


message 22: by Danielle (new)

Danielle | 16 comments i adored the 'once and future king.' it was whimsical and light. i'd read it again if i could find a minute.


yelena wrote: 'I don't think this will change anyone's mind about the book who already has strong opinions, but I honestly don't think the book has anything substantive to do with hurting women.'

i wasn't personnally offended by american psycho, i just found it quite unbrilliant and difficult to stomach. i admit to have a very active imagination and frankly i couldn't take the gore. i certainly can see a social commentary when it's written well (again, lolita comes to mind), but it just seemed so... excessive. if i was less squeamish, i may have a greater appreciation.

and thanks for the recommendation, liz. i'll try zadie again and see if it's more to my taste.

i'm just relieved there are others who have been surprised at disliking some of 'the greatest books.' it's disheartening when i try to bring up what i dislike and others pooh-pooh the sentiments simply because a book has been lauded for a century or two.


message 23: by Nicole (new)

Nicole  I really couldn't stand Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. The stream of consciousness writing was just awful. There didn't seem to be a story line that I could follow. Just miserable.


message 24: by Salma (new)

Salma | 8 comments "i agree whole-heartedly. it's really difficult for me to get into 'modern' literature. i like the books that can still speak to me after having aged for so long."

This is true- although there are many modern books I love. I think also, a trend nowadays is for a lot of young writers to show off that they're writers instead of just telling a story. I think the prime goal for a lot of authors of old was to just tell the damn story- hence the difference in our reception.

Lolita, Heart of Darkness, and Separate Peace are all books I just could NOT get into. Although I have to say, when I read SP, I was in my 'ew-I hate boys phase' and hence I didn't want to read anything about them. lol

1984 is one that I agree is important because of the kind of message it gives, but I just could not enjoy the read at all...

Toni Morrison, though, is a favorite of mine- though I have to admit, it was hard to get through Beloved.


message 25: by Yelena (last edited Jan 22, 2008 10:38AM) (new)

Yelena Malcolm | 110 comments I don't know how we're defining modern or contemporary - past 50 years, past 100? I do think, though, that one of the faults of the list is granting import to books that won't stand the test of time: Lambs of London, Unless, Slow Man etc. However, looking at, say, the list from 1980 onwards, Midnight's Children, The Unbearable Lightness of Being (an aside - I am absolutely shocked that pretty much every one of Milan Kundera's novels has made the list except the one I think is far and away his best, Immortality), White Noise, and Operation Shylock (just several of the books I think are amazing), I think you can find many books that are equals to the past masters.

And I'd be amazed to find anyone who is really passionate about Richardson and Trollope...


message 26: by Emma (new)

Emma (elpryan) Least favorites include Toni Morrison (just don't get it), The Scarlett Letter (one of my worst high school experiences), Confederacy of Dunces (the idiocy of the main character kept making me angry. Ironically, I think that was supposed to be the humor). I love The Awakening and John Irving, and I remember not minding Ethan Frome for a high school english read.


message 27: by Judith (new)

Judith (jloucks) | 1203 comments I absolutely agree with your interpretation of American Psycho as only a satire. I actually began to laugh after awhile when I realized how "over the top" everything in that book was meant to be.

This, of course, does not mean that I cannot see why it was and still is controversial. I understand other's aversion to the violence as well as their belief that the book was horrific in that regard, perhaps even glorifying and promoting females as sexual objects and less than human.

Still, what a statement about the 80's culture and the yuppie male "masters of the universe"! That's the part I fully appreciated and what makes the book worthwhile.


message 28: by Judith (new)

Judith (jloucks) | 1203 comments Those first two are among my favs too, and To The Lighthouse is on my TBR list now. I look forward to reading several titles by Virginia Woolfe from the list.


message 29: by Judith (new)

Judith (jloucks) | 1203 comments I think I read someone in another post, Salma, that the classic novels just tell a good story well while newer novelists may be prone to do what you refer to here as "showing off". (And I do see this point.)

But someone else was particularly critical of The Reader which is, quite literally, a good story told simply and well. At least that is what I thought of it.

We do see authors, books, subjects and style very, very differently; and there are so many understandable reasons for our different reactions, of course.

One thought that helped me justify the 1001 List is that I believe it is intended to list the best novels that trace the development of the art from over the centuries. With that assumption, it is easier to accept that only selected titles and authors were chosen (out of hundreds of thousands of good ones) to represent a given plateau or status of the art form at a given time and why so many more experimental examples from the 20th and 21st C. were included

I have not read the book about the list though, so am I wrong about that?



message 30: by Danielle (new)

Danielle | 16 comments "One thought that helped me justify the 1001 List is that I believe it is intended to list the best novels that trace the development of the art from over the centuries. With that assumption, it is easier to accept that only selected titles and authors were chosen (out of hundreds of thousands of good ones) to represent a given plateau or status of the art form at a given time and why so many more experimental examples from the 20th and 21st C. were included"


i can agree with that, although as someone else mentioned, Why Those Titles? were they chosen by 'experts' who carefully considered what essential reading would be? or were they chosen by people of those time periods as what they felt were accurate depictions of literary trends? i plead ignorance here as i've no idea how it was done. but there have been several genres (like the western genre- zane grey comes to mind) which i feel shaped current writings, but which aren't represented by this list. so i wonder what the concept is based on...


message 31: by Danielle (last edited Jan 22, 2008 11:02PM) (new)

Danielle | 16 comments Judith wrote: "This, of course, does not mean that I cannot see why it was and still is controversial. I understand other's aversion to the violence as well as their belief that the book was horrific in that regard, perhaps even glorifying and promoting females as sexual objects and less than human."

i finally figured out why i struggled with this book. it doesn't present itself as being deviant. right now i'm reading the Wasp Factory and you can certainly see the mental instability of the character. in American Psycho, the fellow sounded like someone i might have gone out with as a freshman in college- i suppose if find it difficult to believe that either a character could hide such homocidal tendencies so well or that those around him would be so complacent with them. so far i'm enjoying the wasp factory, but not because of the sadistic tendencies of the narrator, but because i can really see inside his mind and understand why he responds in such ways. i didn't find that possible with AmerPsycho.


message 32: by Rob (new)

Rob | 16 comments AMEN EMMA!! I HATED Confederacy of Dunces!! That was one of the very few 'classics' that I was so happy to finish and be done with - and I was so angry I had wasted my time with it - The protagonist was such an idiot and so distasteful - I didn't find it the least bit clever, funny, or worthwhile...yuck!

Another book on the list that I hated was On The Road - How that ends up on so many booklists is beyond me - unless there are a bunch of old, wanna-be beatniks creating those lists. I couldn't care less about any of the characters or their little journey. And I kept hoping Dean would fall off the truck while he was busy peeing into the wind...to symbolize his free-spirit? puh-leaze!

Finally, I might respectfully suggest that the list be re-named "1001 books you might consider reading before you die"...Must reads? I don't think so. I mean, I liked Life of Pi - it was cute and quirky and different...but a must read before you die? uh-uh. (imho)


message 33: by Judith (new)

Judith (jloucks) | 1203 comments I think you have it, Danielle. The author does not make it obvious. And it does not focus on an animal or one dimensional character that make satire obvious either. Many people reacted to the book as you did. I think the author must have wanted us to have to get into the story first and then gradually discover the satirical aspect just as, on the surface, what is going on in pop culture at any given time does not reveal its meaning, origins or impact until we can view it from history's perspective.



message 34: by Judith (new)

Judith (jloucks) | 1203 comments I agree with you renaming of the list,Rob. I've been doing a little research on its origins this morning, and am beginning to let it sink in how very subjective the choices were!

First of all, Peter Ackroyd's participation is a clue. He is almost exclusively involved with British history and literature I believe. Others of the contributors are specials on authors and genres that are WELL represented on the list -- perhaps to the exclusion of other selections just as good or better.

I think we all have to trust our own inner critic to an extent and note what we all already know --that no one can choose the best books that any individual should read before they die. It's just a resource to choose from according to our own purposes for reading and tastes in literature.


message 35: by Judith (new)

Judith (jloucks) | 1203 comments Oh Rob, I do see what you mean about the main character in Confederacy of Dunces; but, in the interest of diversity, I just have to weigh in on the positive side for the book. I'm almost finished with it now and am laughing out loud at the antics and absurdity Kennedy Toole came up with!


message 36: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth King | 1 comments I agree,with the above. I also don't get Toni Morrison or the corrections.


message 37: by Ruby (new)

Ruby (rubycanary) I can understand why some people have a hard time with Toni Morrison, particularly if you start with Beloved (since it was getting so much media attention for a while.) But I do think she is one of the absolute most important and interesting American authors. I read Paradise three times before I really understood it, in part because the first time I was just too young. It is now probably my favorite book. Song of Solomon is also fantastic.

I just finished reading White Teeth by Zadie Smith, I thought is was hilarious and thoughtful. I haven't read On Beauty yet, but one of my favorite "book" friends loved it.


message 38: by Gail (new)

Gail I don't care about Richardson but I am passionate about Trollope. Reading his work is similar to making aquaitances and then friends with a wide group of interesting, often silly, people in a culture a bit different from ours. I guess it could be called a form of fantasy. I love him.


message 39: by Ph (new)

Ph | 16 comments What book I've hated...

"The Body Artist"

I either didn't get something, or it really was the worst book I've ever read in my life. What little conversations they had were almost so trite that they were unbelievable. Her reaction to her husbands death, I don't know, I didn't buy it. I just had no real interest in the character and in a character driven story, that makes the rest of it really tough to get into.


message 40: by Jenn (new)

Jenn | 1 comments Someone mentioned The Wasp Factory, was that on the list? I still need to download a copy of it. I loved the book and also found American Psycho to be over the top and decent in its own way. The one book I didn't like, and saw on the first page of the list when I looked at it online, was The Corrections. Ugh, there was just something in the way it was written that made me not care at all about the characters or anything else about the book. What was it about that book that made so many dislike it?


message 41: by Danielle (new)

Danielle | 16 comments Wasp Factory is definitely on there. i'm glad to hear someone else enjoyed it. i've actually never heard it mentioned before and was curious as to why i liked it myself. it isn't a long book, but after the first handful of pages, seems to just grow on you.


message 42: by Tami Lynn (last edited Feb 04, 2008 07:20PM) (new)

Tami Lynn Andrew (tamilynn) i didn't like "the body artist" either. it was just boring. i just wanted it to end already and it was only like 150 pages


but more than that, i hated crash. i don't think it should even exist, let alone be on the list.


message 43: by Mike (new)

Mike Jones | 3 comments One funny thing about this thread is that, with very few exceptions, I found myself thinking "yeah, I didn't like that either!" with almost every book mentioned as unworthy. It's a wonder I've read any of them... With that said, the one book that caused me to wince when I saw it on the list is Smilla's Sense of Snow. Ugh!


message 44: by Kieffala (new)

Kieffala | 84 comments AHahahah! I didn't like Smilla's Sense of Snow either. The movie was aweful as well. I kept expecting it to get better, or get to a point, ANY point. Then, I turned the page, and the book was over. I felt like I'd been driving along at 80 mph and suddenly a brick wall had appeared. VERY disappointing.

It is very interesting, though to read through and see some of the love 'em hate 'em items. Some I've been shocked to see on the hate list, others the shock that people love them. I guess it's like reading criticisms of books and films, you have to find the critics with whom you agree and let them guide you. I'm loving being on these lists though, they're giving me nice insight as to what I might or might not read next.

I've decided to take the list as a guideline more than a challenge. I am sure there are authors and works on there that I completely won't want to waste my time with, but I'm willing to at least give them a try.


message 45: by Leslie (new)

Leslie Hickman (bkread2) Here's something funny!! I loved The Great Gatsby in high school when assigned as well as Don Quixote. I am almost afraid of re-reading them in case my tastes have changed because of the found memories I had of them and the fact that they inspired me to read more classics.

I can say I am NOT a fan of Thomas Hardy nor of William Faulkner. To me its like banging my head against a brick wall. I would rather get a root canal. Unfortunately 2 of my books clubs LOVE them so I am forced to endure them with some pain. Drinking wine helps some.


message 46: by Judith (new)

Judith (jloucks) | 1203 comments Leslie, I posted a comment much like your first paragraph here earlier in some thread or other.
I have several books in the category you describe,
reverently preserved in my memory for days of old:

A Separate Peace - John Knowles
Wuthering Heights - Bronte
All The King's Men - Penn Warren

are among them.

I do love Faulkner though. It helps to be a southerner too! Try "The Reivers" if you haven't already. That's one that even Faulkner haters can like!

And, I agree, Hardy is tough -- so very dark, isn't he. I just finished "Jude The Obscure" and really had to push myself through it though I certainly recognize it as good literature.


message 47: by Michelle (new)

Michelle (fireweaver) | 105 comments Leslie, i'm 75% right there with you on those books we were forced to churn through in high school:

loved 'quixote', though didn't give myself enough time to finish it, so i sadly ended up skimming or skippin parts in the latter sections. got to come back to that someday.

'gatsby' was a snooze for me. not a love or hate, just a snooze. that and 'tale of two cities' are the books i'm most convinced i was just exposed to at too young an age to really get into them. i mean, wtf do we know about desperation and war and privation and depression (etc etc) at 14?? hmmm, perhaps i should attempt to unearth those from the archives next time i'm at my mom's house...

but hardy & faulkner both, i'd rather eat glass. we had a unit in our senior year that forced us through both 'jude the obscure' AND 'tess of the d'ubervilles' in close proximity, and to this day i have an urge to kick over the entire shelf every time i come across hardy at some store. being a book nerd was occasionally not so helpful...the regular classes got to read 'farenheit 451' and 'a wizard of earthsea' while us honors kids had to suffer through faulkner's stream-of-crap. sigh.


message 48: by Chris (new)

Chris | 1 comments I have to agree with Rebecca and her dislike of Lord of the Flies. I had to read it in 9th grade and write a term paper on it in 12th grade. This is the one book I would by any student the Cliff Notes and rent them the movie. Why do teachers make students read the Lord of the Flies?

With that said I read Wuthering Heights in 9th grade and did not care for it. But, had to read it again for grad-school and fell in love--some books are worth re-reading.

American Psycho is one of my least favorite books on the list. I could not finish it or the movie.

Life of Pi is also on my list of least favorites. I read it off and on for about a year until I rented the CD for a long car trip. I thought it was just too long in parts.

Madame Bovary is the last of my least favorites. I read this in 12th grade and started to re-read it last year. My sentiment has not changed. Not sure if it a mental block because of the dislike of my 12th grade English teacher (but she did make me fall in love with Shakespeare) or if it is the book.



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Boxall's 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die

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The Road (other topics)
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