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Books to avoid

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message 1: by Matt (last edited Apr 15, 2010 06:43PM) (new)

Matt | 29 comments Have you ever started a book, and decided that there is no way it is worth the time or effort to finish even the book (much less a series)?

I do this very rarely, in fact I can remember only one where I just simply did not like the book enough to put the effort into finishing it, as opposed to liking the book, but being unable to get into it enough to finish.

The first scenario is so rare for me, I can think of only one book that I did this for.

L. Ron Hubbard's Battlefield Earth.

I read probably 300 pages of it (constantly thinking it has to get better), before finally deciding that I overpaid for it (btw, I checked it out of the Public Library and returned it on time).

How about any of you?


message 2: by Matt (new)

Matt | 29 comments Matt wrote: "Have you ever started a book, and decided that there is no way it is worth the time or effort to finish even the book (much less a series)?

I do this very rarely, in fact I can remember only one..."


Actually, I thought of another one like this. If I recall correctly the name of it was C:\>.


The story as far as I got was the head of a large computer corporation that had an OS on 90+% of the worlds computers and mobile devices was evil, and was killing his competitors.

I recall it being a very thinly veiled description of Bill Gates and Microsoft.

The most ridiculous scene (as far as I got) was the evil one killed someone by using a handheld computer to access the database of medical devices they produced/provided OS for, and took over a competitor's pacemaker and made it look like he had a heart attack. Tried searching for it, but can't find it.


message 3: by Daniel (new)

Daniel | 20 comments Yep. Somewhere in the middle of Robert Jordan's Robert Jordan 3rd or 4th book I became utterly disenchanted. I loved The Eye of the World,The Eye of the World but I couldn't stomach the thought of reading all of the other becasue the story slowed down to a snails pace.


message 4: by Joshua (new)

Joshua (JoshuaCaleb) | 38 comments I read the first in the Percy Jackson series, but didn't really enjoy it. While the concept was interesting it just didn't catch me enough to even try to finish the series. I barely finished the first book.


message 5: by Melissa (new)

Melissa Lashley (effjay) | 6 comments Daniel wrote: "Yep. Somewhere in the middle of Robert Jordan's Robert Jordan 3rd or 4th book I became utterly disenchanted. I loved The Eye of the World,The Eye of the World but I coul..."

What? You didn't like the detailed descriptions of dresses every time they changed (about 20 times a day) ;-)


message 6: by Vance (new)

Vance | 362 comments I gave up on Jordan after the 3,000th reference to a girl pulling on her braid an angst.


message 7: by Sean (new)

Sean O'Hara (seanohara) | 2365 comments Vance wrote: "I gave up on Jordan after the 3,000th reference to a girl pulling on her braid an angst."

So, chapter two of the first book?


message 8: by Sean (new)

Sean O'Hara (seanohara) | 2365 comments I gave up on Terry Goodkind after about two chapters. There came a point where a villain proposed a ban on fire. Yes, fire. Because it's dangerous. And no one laughed him down. No one even responded, "Yeah, but I don't like trichinosis."


message 9: by Paul (new)

Paul Kelly (ptekelly) | 206 comments In enjoyed both Terry Goodkind's and Robert Jordan's series of books. They both had a lot going for them. I think, as has been commented here before, Jordan had a major issue with writing women and for me his biggest mistake was listening too much to criticisms and changing them too much. Braid tugging in itself wasn't really the problem it was having simplistic mind types (character types?) with little subtlety about them.

The changes brought in mid way through the series made things worse to me - only my opinion.

Strong women characters are good - hero's usually are strong characters.

Goodkind's series had some flaws not least the fire ban :) but there was more going for it than against it and it was all in all a good tale. Just 'slightly' too long.

I read a series by Hubbard - about 10 books long - I can only assume the battlefield series but it drained my mind so much I have forgotten it already. This is the only books I have ever gotten rid of that I have purchased.

My one failure was Dune - I have read the first 2 and part of the third. Perhaps it is time to get back to that and try again.


message 10: by Alex (new)

Alex Covic (buckybit) | 25 comments Daniel wrote: "Yep. Somewhere in the middle of Robert Jordan's Robert Jordan 3rd or 4th book I became utterly disenchanted ..."

Good for you! I had the same experience. The main character was in a castle and wanted to leave on page 1-2 after 100? 150 pages? I stopped reading, while he still has not left.

The tradition of this kind of writing is old. Alexandre Dumas had a lot of dialogue in his novels, because they were printed in newspapers first. He was paid by the word count. Later on Proust managed to keep (at least me and some others) reading through his Madeleine episode without trouble, because he was a great writer.

Robert Jordan always left the impression, he was filling books with words for the dollars he would get for it?


message 11: by Sean (new)

Sean O'Hara (seanohara) | 2365 comments Alex wrote: "Daniel wrote: "The tradition of this kind of writing is old. Alexandre Dumas had a lot of dialogue in his novels, because they were printed in newspapers first. He was paid by the word count."

Slight correction: English newspapers paid by the word, which is why writers like Dickens and Wilkie Collins have long chunks of text. French newspapers paid by the line, which is why Dumas has lots of dialogue.


message 12: by Alex (new)

Alex Covic (buckybit) | 25 comments Sean wrote: "Alex wrote: "Daniel wrote: "The tradition of this kind of writing is old. Alexandre Dumas had a lot of dialogue in his novels, because they were printed in newspapers first. He was paid by the word..."

Thanks a lot. You are right, of course. French: by the line. Sloppy memory, on my part.


message 13: by Daniel (last edited Apr 16, 2010 07:27AM) (new)

Daniel | 20 comments Paul wrote: "I read a series by Hubbard - about 10 books long - I can only assume the battlefield series but it drained my mind so much I have forgotten it already. This is the only books I have ever gotten rid of that I have purchased." Your endurance is impressive. I read about 5 books of the Hubbard series and then ran out of gas. I was a teenager at the time, and now I don't remember why I quit (or why I started).

I can't quite give up on Robert Jordan, I picked up Brandson Sanderson's The Gathering Storm hoping that Sanderson would do a better job of telling Jordan's story, but it's too much the same. I guess I too badly for something to happen with the plot.


message 14: by Daniel (last edited Apr 16, 2010 09:20AM) (new)

Daniel | 20 comments Sean wrote: "I gave up on Terry Goodkind after about two chapters. There came a point where a villain proposed a ban on fire. Yes, fire. Because it's dangerous. And no one laughed him down. No one even responde..."
That should have been a red flag to me, but I trudged through Wizard's First Rule. My problem was the basic characters and plot--the old boy-with-hidden-powers-meets-girl-and-they-go-on-an-adventure story. Don't get me wrong, I like a lot different variations on the the the theme of the hero's journey (see The Hero with a Thousand Faces ) but that Goodkind's version bored me.


message 15: by Vance (new)

Vance | 362 comments Sean wrote: "Vance wrote: "I gave up on Jordan after the 3,000th reference to a girl pulling on her braid an angst."

So, chapter two of the first book?"


HA! Someone really needs to go back and do a count . . .


message 16: by Jen (new)

Jen | 225 comments I lost interest in the 2rd or 3rd book when there was a reference to a magical hedgehog statue. Really, a hedgehog?!


message 17: by Mike (new)

Mike (mikespencer) | 60 comments I'm about 2/3 of the way through Stone of Tears, the second book in Terry Goodkind's series. I'm going to finish it and I'll likely continue the series, but HOLY CRAP can these characters yap any more? The repetitious dialog is about enough to drive me crazy. If it wasn't for the story, which I think is really good, I might give up.


message 18: by Curt (new)

Curt Taylor (meegeek) | 107 comments I almost hate writing this, but have to, just have to let the hate roll over me. I just don't understand the Harry Potter series. I did read the first book, but then put it down. Just no interest to continue. Just bad writing and the story, bleh. My wife, on the other hand, was a fanatic. I just could not get engaged with any of it.


message 19: by Mike (new)

Mike (mikespencer) | 60 comments Curt, it's okay that you didn't like the series, but I definitely wouldn't categorize Harry Potter under "Books to avoid." Far too many people have enjoyed the series (myself included) for it to fall into that realm.


message 20: by Curt (new)

Curt Taylor (meegeek) | 107 comments Mike, granted, but I just tend to feel that the Harry Potter series dumbs down scifi or fantasy. The reason I mentioned my wife getting really into it is that I think HP is a great "gateway" into the genre. Maybe I am being a bit elitist, but you have to ask yourself if this is something you have or need to read, versus the time suck reading it would entail.


message 21: by Mike (new)

Mike (mikespencer) | 60 comments Great gateway? Yes. Time suck? Not for me. I flew through the series faster than any other that I have read. Dumbs down fantasy? Not at all. The series definitely takes a playful take on the fantasy level, but it is very well thought-out and is even more effective on the emotional level.

I would recommend the series to anyone, but like any book, not everyone will ultimately enjoy it. But I do agree that if you didn't like the first one, you may as well stop. Even though the series only gets better, if you don't like the first, you probably won't like the rest and then it will become a "time suck."


message 22: by Vance (new)

Vance | 362 comments I read the Harry Potter series not as fantasy books, but as childrens books, and I think that made a difference in expectations, since the juvenile interactions, etc, didn't bother me as much. And, just as the kids got older and more sophisticated, their stories did as well and I got sucked into the atmosphere and characters.

Whereas authors like Jordan (after the first book), Terry Goodkind, etc, leave me not only flat but frustrated, because I have higher expectations for them as adult fantasy.


message 23: by Alex (new)

Alex Covic (buckybit) | 25 comments Curt wrote: "Mike, granted, but I just tend to feel that the Harry Potter series dumbs down scifi or fantasy..."

... which made me think "what would be the antidote, the opposite of J.K. Rowlings badly written Fantasy?" And I thought of
Doris Lessing http://www.contemporarywriters.com/au... - now that is 'proper' literature. Maybe too much for some adult Potter fans? Or is everybody just reading what everyone else is reading? The bestseller lists? The usual pop-books?


message 24: by Ridan (new)

Ridan | 4 comments I'm willing to be put in the "hate me for this category". This is a book I read all the way through (it was mercifully short) but I wish I hadn't as I found it had little redeaming value. The author is "big" and most applaud it but for me it I wish I could wipe it from my mind....

The Road by Cormac McCarthy


message 25: by Vance (new)

Vance | 362 comments Ridan, my wife had the same response to The Last Lecture. Although it was a big bestseller, she thought it was poorly written, self-absorbed and a bit pretentious. She felt bad thinking this because of the author's situation, but there it is.


message 26: by Alex (new)

Alex Covic (buckybit) | 25 comments "self-absorbed, pretentious" ahh, now it's getting dirty. My experience with early Philip Roth (yes, I went there! ;)

The Road was stunning to me. Did it say 'a novel' on the cover? I don't remember. It was a film-script to me.

I get the modern style. I've read a lot of postmodern 'texts', but writing these dialogue-style was bold. You have to read it aloud and pause between sentences - a novel for cold and lonely silent places?

Back to the thread title "Books to avoid".

In Germany, where I live (FYI still amongst the leading publishing countries volume wise), there was a shift in printing a while ago.

Every book turned into a big brick! Especially the paperback issues. They changed the typography and increased the font size on EVERYTHING they now publish.

Making the books thick and 'feels good' in your hand replaced what used to be the quality of the 'product', the text. Now, more than ever it's the cover and the weight.

I can safely say, avoid these books! It smells like trash from afar! Full disclosure: I worked 10+ years in print/publishing/retail backend. I am biased. Blame me!


message 27: by Garmon (new)

Garmon Estes | 4 comments Stranger in a Strange Land- If Jubal Harshaw's incessant ramblings don't drive you insane then Michael Valentine Smith will in the second half of the book when he becomes a cult leader, then "Jesus". After finishing Heinlein's Starship Troopers, I has such high hopes for this book. What a downer.


message 28: by Tamahome (new)

Tamahome | 6362 comments My 'stalled' shelf has 10 books that I've stalled on after at least 100 pages:

http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/...


message 29: by Scott (new)

Scott | 4 comments Vance wrote: "Ridan, my wife had the same response to The Last Lecture. Although it was a big bestseller, she thought it was poorly written, self-absorbed and a bit pretentious..."

Amen! Some friends and I chose this for book club when it first came out. Ugh. At least his widow and kids (hopefully) shared some of the revenue from the book. I tell people to just watch the lecture on youtube.


message 30: by Invid (new)

Invid | 5 comments I could list about 1000 of these if I really tried. I have a short attention span for mediocre f/sf with awful flat characters.

Recent ones off the top of my head: Definitely second the Robert Jordan votes. I have tried, I really have. Got through the 5th book and ran completely out of steam. Tried a book called Orcs by Stan Nicholls, and never got more than 50 pages in. Attempted something called The Hickory Staff by Robert Scott and failed to get anywhere. Tried to read Dante's Equation by Jane Jensen and failed utterly..


message 31: by Christian (new)

Christian Cantrell (christiancantrell) After finishing Heinlein's Starship Troopers, I has such high hopes for this book. What a downer.

They are very different books, aren't they? I believe Heinlein stopped writing Stranger to write Troopers. Odd that Stranger is considered his masterpiece -- I actually prefer Starship Troopers myself.


message 32: by Ron (new)

Ron the Thomas Covenant books - couldnt get through the first one. "Oh woe is me for being a leper" for hundreds of pages just gets tedious.


message 33: by [deleted user] (new)

Oh I am a fickle reader. I not only bailed on Robert Jordan somewhere around book 5-6, I never finished volume 1 of Thomas Covenant because the main character was just leprous on so many levels, I waded my way grudgingly through 5 Harry Potter books and gave up 100 pages into the 6th. Honor Harrington bit the dust around volume 7-8 and most recently I ditched Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell when I realized I couldn't stand either character and hoped faery would eliminate them for me. I have lots of triggers that will make me pitch a book or a series: flat characters, poor or irrational plotting, a dragging story arc, too much exposition. I figure there are lots of books out there to enjoy, why waste time on what isn't working?


message 34: by Philip (new)

Philip (heard03) | 383 comments Ridan wrote: "I'm willing to be put in the "hate me for this category". This is a book I read all the way through (it was mercifully short) but I wish I hadn't as I found it had little redeaming value."

The Road may not work for someone who is not male. I found it to have great redeeming value by its vivid portrayal of a strong father/son relationship.

I don't hate you, just terribly disappointed ;0)


message 35: by Philip (new)

Philip (heard03) | 383 comments Bernard Malamud's The Natural is to be avoided like smallpox. The book is terrible, a huge disappointment. The movie was wonderful, Redford was terrific and heroic- someone you could really pull for. I know The Natural is a fable, but the book was over the top in it's surrealism and Roy Hobbs came across as an obnoxious jerk who evoked no sympathy.


message 36: by [deleted user] (new)

I must be in the stubborn mule category...

I started Jordan's books in '94 or '95, and I do enjoy them, but they are extremely long winded at times.

I know I'll finish the series if for no other reason than I just want to see the end of it.


message 37: by Nomdeplume22 (new)

Nomdeplume22 | 16 comments Nico you are not alone in being a stubbon mule there have been a few books and unfortunatly they are always series that i have read and had to finish "JUST BECAUSE" that i would've been so happy to never have read at all. Terry Goodkind sword of truth (the first one was actually good), Tad williams Memory Sorrow and Thorn (so disapointed in that so very disapointed)
I have only bailed on a few that where God awful that caused me physical pain to read like Melanine Rawn's dragon prince thing Jennifer Robinson sword dancer come to mind


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