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Thread: Books you thought you would like but didn't?

  1. #1
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    Books you thought you would like but didn't?

    What highly recommended books did you read or start reading, but didn't like or couldn't get into? Doesn't mean they are bad books, just that they weren't for you.

    I always give a book a good try before I give up on it completely or start skimming it.

    Books I couldn't get into (again, I'm not saying they are not good books, you may love them):

    Three Men in a Boat.

    The Name of the Rose.

    Les Miserables (I started skimming on this one. Parts of it I liked pretty well).

    Go Set a Watchman (I read it all but didn't care for it).

    Atlas Shrugged (Finished it but had to skim parts.)

    Nine Dragons (By Michael Connelly, I liked the others in that series but couldn't finish this one.)

    I'll think of others by and by.
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  2. #2
    Perpetually Tired ZachJPayne's Avatar
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    Just off the top of my head:

    Carrie

    We Were Liars

    Since You've Been Gone

    Imaginary Girls

    The Walls Around Us

    Shatter Me trilogy.
    "She discovered that a great deal of the suffering in this world is due not so much to original sin,
    but to a kind of original stupidity, an unimaginative, stubborn stupidity." -- Georges Sand
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  3. #3
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    Ender's Game.

    caw
    Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it.

    -- Terry Pratchett

  4. #4
    Just Another Lazy Perfectionist Brightdreamer's Avatar
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    I've read some that were highly praised by many sources, but which left me cold for various reasons.

    A few random ones:

    Abarat, by Clive Barker - Some imaginative and creepy stuff, but the bland MC kinda killed it for me, plus the utter lack of resolution.

    Pawn of Prophecy, by David Eddings - One of the old "classic" epic fantasies, but I barely made it through. At the time it was published, maybe, it was original, but not so much by the time I got to it, plus it featured one of the most abrasive ladies I've ever had to sit through a story with.

    Magician: Apprentice, by Raymond E. Feist - Another "classic" epic fantasy. Nice ideas, but the execution didn't do it for me.

    Witch & Wizard, by James Patterson and Elizabeth Charbonnet - A popular YA fantasy series that read like someone trying too hard to be "hip" with them thar teenage readers.

    The Gunslinger, by Stephen King - Another one with nice ideas and high praise, but I found it wandering and pointless. (Many people say it gets better, but my reading pile's just too deep...)

    I also tried - but was utterly unable to finish - the first in the Lord Peter Wimsey series by Dorothy L. Sayers. Just not my style of humor.
    - Brightdreamer
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  5. #5
    practical experience, FTW L. OBrien's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brightdreamer View Post
    The Gunslinger, by Stephen King - Another one with nice ideas and high praise, but I found it wandering and pointless. (Many people say it gets better, but my reading pile's just too deep...)
    I absolutely hated The Gunslinger, even though I know people who swear by it.

    Also:
    Brandon Sanderson's Warbreaker. I read a few other books by him and they were great, but this one seemed to lose steam pretty early and didn't pick up again until the last thirty pages.

    Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin. I know that there's supposed to be an interesting exploration of gender going on, but I found the actual plot so underwhelming I couldn't finish.

    Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

    On the Road
    by Jack Kerouac

    Wheel of Time
    by Robert Jordan (I don't care if it supposedly gets better around book seven. I'm not going to read seven books waiting for something to get good)

  6. #6
    practical experience, FTW Matt T.'s Avatar
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    The Hyperion Cantos, by Dan Simmons. I loved how rich his prose was, but I struggled to identify or empathize with many of the characters. And while I appreciated the novelty of his stories-within-a-story Canterbury Tales approach, that really just meant that I loved some stories and hated others (for a slightly spoilery example, I enjoyed the one about the father who's daughter is aging backwards in time and I hated the one about the poet).

    Quote Originally Posted by Brightdreamer View Post
    The Gunslinger, by Stephen King - Another one with nice ideas and high praise, but I found it wandering and pointless. (Many people say it gets better, but my reading pile's just too deep...)
    Quote Originally Posted by L. OBrien View Post
    I absolutely hated The Gunslinger, even though I know people who swear by it.
    You know, I keep hearing that about The Gunslinger. I'm planning on a full Dark Tower series read-through sometime soon, and I've heard a lot of mixed opinions on the first book. I am told that the second book is a massive improvement though, and the first book is less than 300 pages, so I figure I'll just slog through it if it turns out to be mediocre. Considering how long the rest of the series is, I'm willing to put up with one middling book because the premise sounds fascinating and I massively enjoy King.
    Last edited by Matt T.; 03-29-2016 at 11:17 AM.

  7. #7
    Certified Non-Genius randi.lee's Avatar
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    I was a huge Harry Potter hater before I read the books. Kept rambling on about how stupid it was that people would line up for the midnight events. Then I started off the series by giving Order of the Phoenix a chance. Before I knew it, I was lining up for the midnight events!
    I suppose I should think up a proper signature.

  8. #8
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    The Way of All Flesh - Butler

    The Handmaid's Tale - Atwood

    The Lovely Bones

    Anything by John Green (I'm SUPPOSED to like him, he comes from my state)
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  9. #9
    Жили-были дед да баба... davidjgalloway's Avatar
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    HoosierJoe, does that apply to Will Grayson, Will Grayson? I only could get into some of Green's, but that one (which is co-authored) was quite fun. Curious if you tried it.

    I used to think I was committing a crime against the arts by not finishing a book; now, much older, I have no problem with it. Most recently, startedThrone of Glass and could not get past 150 pages. Nothing seemed to be happening and I didn't connect with the MC.

    I read Eddings' books as a kid and loved them, but I TOTALLY know what you mean about the female characters. Polgara gets characterized as such a nag and kind of a bitch, particularly. It's hard to read now. Plus the second series is a retread of the first, even though he's throwing in crowd-pleasing scenes all over. Talk about a guilty pleasure.

  10. #10
    Old Hand in the Biz Barbara R.'s Avatar
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    My biggest reading disappointment ever was Donna Tartt's second book. It started off with a great premise: someone murdered a young boy by hanging him from a tree on his family's property, and his sister is absolutely determined to discover who and why. And 900 or so pages later, it ended without a resolution to the mystery. I was furious at the waste of my time, and so disappointed in a writer whose first book had delighted.

    Barbara

  11. #11
    Жили-были дед да баба... davidjgalloway's Avatar
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    Ouch, Barbara. That's like a poke in the eye of every story...ever, isn't it? Makes me think of A Series of Unfortunate Events, which had an interesting start, quirky humor, and absolutely not an iota of satisfying resolution. Can't believe I bought all 13 (in hardback, no less.) But I suppose the title should have warned me.

  12. #12
    The Aryan Arab Ravioli's Avatar
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    Look who's back
    Hitler returns from the dead in 2011 and wants to save Germany from democracy and diversity? Must be hilarious! Except, the same jokes and obstacles are repeated ad nauseam, sadly.

    The supreme Gift
    Paulo Coehlho! Love his stories! Let's read anoth--- wait, is this book trying to jesus me?

    Hundeherz
    Puppy lost in the woods! I want to feel my feels! ...is this narration gonna be like an essay on electronic engineering by Mr. Spock throughout the whole book? Where are the feels!? It's a book about a PUPPY!!!!!
    Please help me leave this country for a better life!
    Kick an Israeli out!


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  13. #13
    Hm.

    I read a synopsis of Purity (Jonathan Franzen) and expected to like it based on that but wasn't able to finish it. Ironically, I gave up because I was completely confused about what was going on and couldn't keep track of who and when and where things were happening.

    Also a number of people with similar literary interests as I were over the moon about Trigger Warning (Neil Gaiman) but I just couldn't get myself into it.

  14. #14
    Just Another Lazy Perfectionist Brightdreamer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gallowayprof View Post
    I used to think I was committing a crime against the arts by not finishing a book; now, much older, I have no problem with it. Most recently, startedThrone of Glass and could not get past 150 pages. Nothing seemed to be happening and I didn't connect with the MC.

    I read Eddings' books as a kid and loved them, but I TOTALLY know what you mean about the female characters. Polgara gets characterized as such a nag and kind of a bitch, particularly. It's hard to read now. Plus the second series is a retread of the first, even though he's throwing in crowd-pleasing scenes all over. Talk about a guilty pleasure.
    I found ToG rather a letdown, too, after the hype. Felt like a bit of a bait-and-switch in parts.

    As for Eddings, I think part of the problem is I read it as a grown-up who was familiar with epic tropes and cliches... and that one ticked just about every checkbox, then invented more to tick. Without nostalgia to carry me through, I suppose I was doomed from the start.

    Quote Originally Posted by randi.lee View Post
    I was a huge Harry Potter hater before I read the books. Kept rambling on about how stupid it was that people would line up for the midnight events. Then I started off the series by giving Order of the Phoenix a chance. Before I knew it, I was lining up for the midnight events!
    Rowling has that effect on many people. I knew a professional hard SF author who loved them, but could never put his finger on why. (Sadly, he passed before the series ended.)
    - Brightdreamer
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    "Inspiration will strike you, and leave you for dead. The police will do nothing."
    - from The Daily Humorscope

  15. #15
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    Gravity's Rainbow. I made it 50 or 60 pages. Incomprehensible. I have seen others say that you have to read it more than once and my question is, Why?

    The Alchemist. I lasted about 75 pages on this one.
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  16. #16
    practical experience, FTW Cobalt Jade's Avatar
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    Ohhh, I've got a lot of these. I've gotten pickier with time, but just as many were started and discarded in my youth.

    Crime and Punishment, by Dostoyezsky. I didn't even make it to the murder.

    Rats and Gargoyles, by Mary Gentle. Couldn't make it past the alchemical mumbo-jumbo in the first five pages, even though the setting and plot looked nice and juicy.

    The Dragonlance Chronicles, Margaret Weis and Tracey Hickman. I LOVE dragons, so you'd think I'd continue with the series, but I was just meh. I started it in college, so was probably too sophisticated for it then -- the cliches just jumped out at me. I'm looking at you, Raistlin, tortured emo soul with your hourglass eyes.

    Weaveworld, by Clive Barker. I like his short fiction better. Imagica was OK, but I never had the desire to reread it like I do with his short stories. The passiveness of his female characters really annoys me.

    The Riddlemaster of Hed series, by Patricia McKillip It made me realize I don't like cozy fantasy.

    The Incarnations of Immortality series, by Piers Anthony. I got confused with the Time guy's back and forth time travel and never continued.

    The Ringworld series, by Larry Niven. The first book was OK, if frat-boyish (I was expecting something like Rendezvous with Rama but didn't get it.) The second one, awful. I felt so bad for poor Teela even if she was annoying in the first book. Didn't continue.

    The Elric series, by Michael Moorcock. Things got too grim and repetitive after book two.

    I'll list more when I think of them.

  17. #17
    practical experience, FTW cmi0616's Avatar
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    Everything I've ever read by Hemingway.

    Naked Lunch.

    Alice Munro's Dear Life.

    I'd heard great things about Love in the Time of Cholera but I still hold that that book is pretty turdish.

    Skippy Dies had earned a lot of comparisons to Franzen, who I really like, but I didn't see very many similarities upon actually reading it.

    Pynchon's V.

    The Bell Jar.


    Last edited by cmi0616; 03-29-2016 at 10:57 PM.
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  18. #18
    Жили-были дед да баба... davidjgalloway's Avatar
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    Aww, c'mon. Dragonlance was so my 80's jam . I agree the first three were like that, but I found the "Legends" trilogy afterwards to be worth the price of admission. Also, some (but definitely not ALL) of the folks they got to do short stories based in the universe were very, very good. I stopped after that--not a fan of ever-expanding worlds once they reach a certain point--but some of it does hold up. Of course, I probably can't give it an unbiased read.

    Immortality: yes. I thought some of the ideas were good, but book2 (the time one) was a drag, and the last one was weird. Anthony is like that for me, frequently--I bought a fair number of his books when I was younger, but now, 20+ years later, I don't think I have a single one left on the shelf after winnowing them out. So maybe not much staying power.

    One I forgot: The Historian. What a slog for no payoff, I thought. Could not see where everyone (or at least a lot of people) seemed to find brilliance.

  19. #19
    Get it off! It burns! Dennis E. Taylor's Avatar
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    The Number of the Beast by R.A. Heinlein. I realize that I am probably guilty of at least apostasy, if not outright heresy, by saying this. But I found that book to be so bad that I never picked up another Heinlein again.
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  20. #20
    practical experience, FTW Cobalt Jade's Avatar
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    Not apostasy; common sense.

    I hated Heinlein's Friday so much I never picked up another book by him.

    Here's some more:

    The Dragonriders of Pern, Anne McCafferty. First one, an exciting adventure. Second one, kind of exciting, devolved into a lot of talk and soap opera feuding. Third one, seemed like it was nothing but talk and soapiness, and full of stereotyped, unlikable characters. I stopped reading at that point. One of the things I grew to hate about the series was that only the men got to ride the dragons; if you were a woman, you had to impress the single Queen dragon, and if you failed in that, you had to be a drudge, slut, or "woman of the lower caverns" whatever the hell that was. (Yes, I know in later books girls were allowed in to impress baby greens; but the fighting wings were still overwhelmingly male.)

    The Summer Tree, Guy Gavriel Kelly. My mom bought this for me. I wanted to like it. But the college-age, modern-world characters were so wooden and stooopid. I like his non-Fionavar books though.

    The Grigori Trilogy, Storm Constantine. Liked her other stuff, but I am not a fan of fallen angel fantasy. I stopped reading when one of the angels anally rapes a human woman, who has incited it for the rejuvenating qualities of his sperm.

    Ecstasia, Francesca Lia Block. Just... silly. And not in a fun way.

    Tea with the Black Dragon, R. A. MacAvoy. Didn't finish. The writing style was way too precious.

  21. #21
    Just Another Lazy Perfectionist Brightdreamer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cobalt Jade View Post
    The Dragonlance Chronicles, Margaret Weis and Tracey Hickman. I LOVE dragons, so you'd think I'd continue with the series, but I was just meh. I started it in college, so was probably too sophisticated for it then -- the cliches just jumped out at me. I'm looking at you, Raistlin, tortured emo soul with your hourglass eyes.

    ...

    The Ringworld series, by Larry Niven. The first book was OK, if frat-boyish (I was expecting something like Rendezvous with Rama but didn't get it.) The second one, awful. I felt so bad for poor Teela even if she was annoying in the first book. Didn't continue.
    I found Dragonlance too clearly inspired by D&D to get into, TBH. I think if I'd played the game, maybe I would've "gotten" it more. (Yes, I was such a loser even the D&D crowd ignored me in school...) And, again, while I've heard later stories in the series pick up, I just have too big a reading pile. Once that bitter taste of disappointment's in your mouth, it's hard to get past that for a second bite of the same dish...

    Quote Originally Posted by Angry Guy View Post
    The Number of the Beast by R.A. Heinlein. I realize that I am probably guilty of at least apostasy, if not outright heresy, by saying this. But I found that book to be so bad that I never picked up another Heinlein again.
    Actually, I've heard lots of people hate that one, so you're far from alone; it's apparently one you either love or despise. (I get this from my SF-fan dad, not personal experience. He had a bad impression of NotB through fandom, but finally tried it after my aunt's husband recommended it. Turns out Dad actually enjoyed it, though it sounds like lots of it depends on being familiar with Heinlein's other works, which are referenced throughout the book, and possibly having an ear for Heinlein's style of humor. As for me, I've heard enough about the author that I'm not sure I could read one of his books unbiased, though I figure I probably should try at least one considering Who He Is, one of the Big Names in the genre's old Golden Age.)
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  22. #22
    Writer Beware's Faithful Igor Richard White's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brightdreamer View Post
    I found Dragonlance too clearly inspired by D&D to get into, TBH. I think if I'd played the game, maybe I would've "gotten" it more. (Yes, I was such a loser even the D&D crowd ignored me in school...) And, again, while I've heard later stories in the series pick up, I just have too big a reading pile. Once that bitter taste of disappointment's in your mouth, it's hard to get past that for a second bite of the same dish...
    Dragonlance wasn't just inspired by D&D, it was written by two of the developers for TSR. I had the opportunity to interview Tracy Hickman re: working at the early incarnation of TSR and writing Dragonlance. The novels were there to supplement the variant role-playing modules that Tracy and Margaret Weiss were designing/writing for TSR. So, your instincts that is was closely related to D&D is entirely correct.

    The same for the Forgotten Realms novels, the Dark Suns novels (and to be honest, the Guild Wars novels, the Warhammer novels, etc. etc. etc.)

  23. #23
    Herder of Hamsters AW Admin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brightdreamer View Post
    As for me, I've heard enough about the author that I'm not sure I could read one of his books unbiased, though I figure I probably should try at least one considering Who He Is, one of the Big Names in the genre's old Golden Age.)
    There's some stuff that squicks me about Heinlein, and did even as a kid.

    But you might try The Moon is A Harsh Mistress; the Heinlein tropes/obsessions/motifs are there, but not so on-the-nose as in later books. And there's lots of interesting stuff. It'll seem dated, but so does Fitzgerald.

  24. #24
    Get it off! It burns! Dennis E. Taylor's Avatar
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    Another disappointment was The Stand. I admit I hadn't read a lot of SK at that point, or I might have been expecting the story derail. The first half was a riveting person's-eye view of post-apocalypse. The second half, once he went all mystical, just got sillier and sillier.
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  25. #25
    Жили-были дед да баба... davidjgalloway's Avatar
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    Second that vote for Heinlein's Moon. I don't really know his other stuff, but I love that book and (important for my criteria) reread it a lot. You might find squick in the multiple wives (ahem) concept, but so much of the rest is inventive and fun.

    And with Pern: my God yes. What is her name, Lessa? The Weyrwoman who rides Ramoth? She is given nothing good to do in the later books but nag F'lar or whatever the hell his name is, and she's in a perpetual bad mood. I always found that surprising that a femle writer should sort of torpedo her strongest female character--I mean, she freaking saves civilization in the early ones, but then apparently has no job later on. Disappointing. Though I guess I will always have a soft spot for Mccaffrey because she answered my letter .

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