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

  1. #26
    practical experience, FTW autumnleaf's Avatar
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    Pillars of the Earth sounded like my cup of tea, but I never really felt like I was in a Medieval world instead of a costume show.

    Love in the Time of Cholera came recommended by people I trust, but I couldn't bring myself to care about anyone in it.

    One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. God, I really wanted to like this one, but the underlying misogyny was too much.
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  2. #27
    practical experience, FTW lianna williamson's Avatar
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    Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. Interesting premise, loads of smart people gush over it, and I really enjoyed the first chapter or two. But by page 200, I still didn't see a protagonist with a goal and an obstacle. So I gave up.

    Lord of Light. It sounded AWESOME (human colony on another planet uses science to mold their society after Hindu mythology), and it won a Hugo. But the writing... I can only describe it as a white American Sci-Fi author in 1968 trying really, really hard to sound like a Hindu god. Yeah. That stilted.
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  3. #28
    Just Another Lazy Perfectionist Brightdreamer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gallowayprof View Post
    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 .
    I wonder if some of Pern's deterioration was related to McCaffrey's deterioration... or corruption from her offspring, who have taken over her legacy (and are as litigious defending it as ever she was - and she was notorious). She herself admitted it was a bad idea to kill of one of her most popular characters... after the fact. Classic example of a series perpetuated long past its ideas were spent.
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  4. #29
    practical experience, FTW Twick's Avatar
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    The Catcher in the Rye. I'd heard how it was so controversial. People wanted it banned, while other people said it changed their life.

    I finished, and went meh. Not a bad kid, Holden Caulfield, and I hoped he got his life straightened out one day. Didn't see anything either corrupting or epiphany-inducing about the story.

  5. #30
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    I enjoyed Catcher when I read it at age 19. I don't think I'd enjoy it now. It's a book for the angst of teen-to-young-adult transition, and has very little to offer for anyone more mature than that. A novel I also enjoyed at about the same time, and still think is a great book for anyone of that age or older is A Separate Peace, by John Knowles, which gets far too little attention these days.

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  6. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by cmi0616 View Post
    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.


    Yup, The Bell Jar. And I tried my best to like it. Lasted about 75 pages.
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  7. #32
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    Eat, Pray, Love.

    A friend of mine was so eager for me to read it -- ZOMG, the book reminded her so much of me! -- she bought me a copy.

    And I HATED it. Oh, God, how I hated it. Every last little thing about it. HATED. IT.

  8. #33
    the world is at my command jennontheisland's Avatar
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    Kushiel's Dart (Jacqueline Carey). So many people who liked other books I did loved it and told me I'd love it. I finished it but was ready to tear the head off of the main character. Worst. Mary. Sue. Ever. Even her enemies go on about how much they love her... as they torture her. wtf.

    Quicksilver (Neal Stephenson). Way too precious for me. So clever and cute! and zomg the maths! and sciencey stuff! and everyone's a smartass! groan. Nope. Less than a third done and I'm done. I'm afraid to read anything by Jasper Fford because the same person recommended both.

    The Last Kingdom (Bernard Cornwell). I loved the Grail Quest novels, and the Warlord Chronicles, but I couldn't wait for this one to end. And it ended exactly as I predicted it would after the first quarter or so.
    You are more than welcome to take anything I say personally, whether it was intended that way or not.

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  9. #34
    Just Another Lazy Perfectionist Brightdreamer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CassandraW View Post
    Eat, Pray, Love.

    A friend of mine was so eager for me to read it -- ZOMG, the book reminded her so much of me! -- she bought me a copy.

    And I HATED it. Oh, God, how I hated it. Every last little thing about it. HATED. IT.
    Hmm... makes me wonder if that "friend" isn't really a friend, and that was a deliberate backhand, the end result of years of elaborate planning. "You thought I was your BFF? Well, this is what I really think of you! Ha! Taste my vengeance!"

    Seriously, though, getting a recommendation from a friend or loved one, then not enjoying it, always seems like an extra layer of sadness as you learn that they really don't know you or your tastes quite as well as both of you thought.
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  10. #35
    Been Here A While Feidb's Avatar
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    Lots of them. I read a LOT. However, right off the top of my head, anything endorsed by Stephen King is almost guaranteed to suck in my "book."

    There are plenty that have great covers and very misleading cover blurbs. That ticks me off to no end. It's like false advertising.

    I won't slam the individual authors. They get enough grief with my book reviews, if I take issue with something, which isn't that often, though it can come in runs of several in a row. I tend to stick with authors I know but also pick up the random new author when the book looks intriguing...and they write in third-person, past-tense. If I don't like them the first time, I'm not likely to bother with them again unless I see potential and think that maybe they just had a dud. Sometimes I guessed right. Other times not.

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  11. #36
    down the rabbit hole of research... CWatts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jennontheisland View Post
    The Last Kingdom (Bernard Cornwell). I loved the Grail Quest novels, and the Warlord Chronicles, but I couldn't wait for this one to end. And it ended exactly as I predicted it would after the first quarter or so.
    I assume the BBC series stuck close to the book, but at least that had the eye candy lead who took his shirt off a lot. But the killed off my favorite character so yeah, probably won't read.

  12. #37
    All about that action, boss. ElaineA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jennontheisland View Post
    Quicksilver (Neal Stephenson). Way too precious for me. So clever and cute! and zomg the maths! and sciencey stuff! and everyone's a smartass! groan. Nope. Less than a third done and I'm done. I'm afraid to read anything by Jasper Fford because the same person recommended both.
    Oh, man, Quicksilver...I think this was when I stopped listening to book reviews. So much hype. It sounded so fun and interesting and different! I made it about 75 pages.

    The subject matter of Wolf Hall is 100% in my reading sweet spot, but that book bored me out of my mind. I did finish it, but only because I kept thinking it had to get better at some point. Still can't understand all the adoration.


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  13. #38
    practical experience, FTW Twick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blacbird View Post
    A novel I also enjoyed at about the same time, and still think is a great book for anyone of that age or older is A Separate Peace, by John Knowles, which gets far too little attention these days.
    I had to read Peace in high school. It struck me very much like Catcher - it wasn't actively unpleasant to read, but I'd never associate the word "enjoyed" with it.

    The lesson I got was that anything considered great literature from the start of the 20th century onwards was to be consumed like medicine - "It's good for you!" - rather than for the pleasure it gave.

    I did like The Old Man and the Sea, though, when we did it in class, possibly because something actually happened in it.

  14. #39
    practical experience, FTW autumnleaf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blacbird View Post
    I enjoyed Catcher when I read it at age 19. I don't think I'd enjoy it now.
    I read Catcher at 20, which I think was exactly the wrong age. I was too old to identify with Holden's struggles, and too young to feel the sympathy of an older adult for an adolescent. Instead, I was irritated by this reminder of a painful stage in life that I had only recently put behind me.

  15. #40
    practical experience, FTW autumnleaf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jennontheisland View Post
    Kushiel's Dart (Jacqueline Carey). So many people who liked other books I did loved it and told me I'd love it. I finished it but was ready to tear the head off of the main character. Worst. Mary. Sue. Ever. Even her enemies go on about how much they love her... as they torture her. wtf.

    Quicksilver (Neal Stephenson). Way too precious for me. So clever and cute! and zomg the maths! and sciencey stuff! and everyone's a smartass! groan. Nope. Less than a third done and I'm done. I'm afraid to read anything by Jasper Fford because the same person recommended both.

    The Last Kingdom (Bernard Cornwell). I loved the Grail Quest novels, and the Warlord Chronicles, but I couldn't wait for this one to end. And it ended exactly as I predicted it would after the first quarter or so.
    Now I am really tempted to read Kushiel's Dart, because I loved the other two books you hated

  16. #41
    the world is at my command jennontheisland's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by autumnleaf View Post
    Now I am really tempted to read Kushiel's Dart, because I loved the other two books you hated
    I'll send you my copy.
    You are more than welcome to take anything I say personally, whether it was intended that way or not.

    Eat This.

  17. #42
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    I'm a noir fan, and enjoy new takes on it, so I figured with a couple recommendations and some good blurbs and Amazon pointing me, Frank Sinatra in a Blender would be great.

    And it wasn't.

  18. #43
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    I wanted to love the Mistborn series, but not so much. He got me for the trilogy, thankfully it was on sale. I should have known after what he did to Wheel of Time, but everyone loved it so hard.

    One I loved as a kid them made the mistake of picking up again was Sword of Shannara. Horrible fan fiction of LOTR.

  19. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by Twick View Post
    I had to read Peace in high school. It struck me very much like Catcher - it wasn't actively unpleasant to read, but I'd never associate the word "enjoyed" with it.

    The lesson I got was that anything considered great literature from the start of the 20th century onwards was to be consumed like medicine - "It's good for you!" - rather than for the pleasure it gave.
    That's about the impression I got regarding most classics before and during the 20th century: that they became classics by virtue of being dense and almost completely unenjoyable. Okay, a little harsh, but I'm still traumatized from The Scarlett Letter, enough to invent time travel just so I can punch Nathaniel Hawthorne. Because my definition of a story is that it has a plot or in other words, something actually happens, not just page after page of dense, impossible to understand prose where all the characters just navel-gaze and angst. In that respects, The Scarlett Letter fails.

    As for A Separate Peace, I was so bored, I couldn't make it to the end. Spent much of my reading being like, "Jesus Christ, will you two just make out already?!" Was so bored didn't make it to the end to find out if they did. Though according to Wikipedia, John Knowles apparently didn't see all the homoerotic overtones in his novel and I'm like, "Really?" Because I cannot picture a pair of platonic, totally heterosexual dudes obsessing over each other like that. But I freely admit to being a chick so maybe I'm totally wrong.

    As for my book contribution to this thread, got to nominate Blindness by Jose Saramago. It sounded like the kind of book I'd like, always a sucker for "X happens, throwing a stick into the wheels of the world" kind of stories. Plus it had won a Pulitzer and I had yet to learn that most award-winning books, outside the Children's/YA section, are pretentious bores. I gave up about halfway through, because I kept waiting for something to happen. The plot is absolutely inert, the kind of story you want to horse-whip or build a fire under, anything to get it moving. Also, maybe Saramago intended to convey a certain universalism by not giving the characters actual names, instead calling them things like "the girl with the dark glasses" or "the doctor's wife," but as more and more characters showed up, it became so difficult to keep track of whos-who and after a while, I started contemplated beating Saramago to death with a book of baby names. I looked up how it ended on Wikipedia and am grateful I gave up beforehand because that ending sounds like the biggest cop-out ever. How the heck did this book when a Pulitzer?

  20. #45
    A dash of pure Slytherin oceansoul's Avatar
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    I really didn't expect to enjoy The Selection series, simply based on the covers and the synopsis. People kept telling me that the books were like a dystopian version of The Bachelor, which turned me off as well, but when I actually started reading them -- I found the series really quick and compelling.

    That being said, I only liked the original first three. I tried to get into the book about America's daughter and hated it.
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  21. #46
    Handsome servant of a redhead Gilroy Cullen's Avatar
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    The Magicians by Lev Grossman. The main character was so bleak and really I couldn't find a character I liked.
    A Casual Vacancy by J K Rowling. A series of connected vignettes without a likeable character in the lot

    Another vote for the Wheel of Time series. Too dry, too verbose, very little forward action
    Lord of the Isles series by David Drake. Ugh. Similar issues to Wheel of Time
    Not found a single thing by Neil Gaiman that I can stomach...

    I'm sure there are others.
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  22. #47
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  23. #48
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    Here are a couple of books I couldn't get into:

    Game of Thrones by George R.R Martin - I know they are quite popular, but I couldn't get past the first page.

    American Gods by Neil Gaiman - This was a book that someone recommended me to read as it was similar to my WIP. Honestly, it couldn't have been more different. I found myself getting lost in the mini stories.

    That's just the tip of the iceberg. I'll post when I think of some more.

  24. #49
    practical experience, FTW aleighrose's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Emermouse View Post
    I'm still traumatized from The Scarlett Letter, enough to invent time travel just so I can punch Nathaniel Hawthorne.
    *builds time machine and supplies Nathaniel Hawthorne with a shield* Sorry, but I love Hawthorne's writing. I admit, though, that I have never read a novel written by him, only short stories.


    Here's my list of disappointing books:

    Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - All but the last chapter bored me, possibly because the entire novel seemed like nothing but world-building. It's not until the end that things actually happen. I would not have continued with the series if it weren't for my mother listening to the audiobooks in her car. I was riding with her one day and she begged me to let her listen to The Chamber of Secrets. I took a drink from my water bottle just as the reader mentioned Ron's brothers turning his teddy bear into a giant spider. I started laughing and spat water all over the windshield. After that, I decided to give the series another chance. I ended up liking the rest of the books, but I don't know if I could ever get into that first book.

    The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson - I loved Paterson's Bridge to Terabithia, so I expected to love this as well. It was pretty dull. Not much in the way of rising action or a climax; things just happen. And the not-so-happy but very realistic ending just left me wondering what the point of the whole story was. It almost felt like a lecture to kids to appreciate the people who love and care for them.

    The Lord of the Flies - I had seen the old, black & white movie and loved it. I thought I would love the book too, but oh was I wrong! The author rambles on with endless descriptions that slow the story to a molasses-like pace. I don't need a 3-page description of the shadow of a palm tree. I know what a palm tree looks like. Everyone with access to this book knows what a palm tree looks like. Get to the freaking plot!

    One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn - I sort of liked it. The title is very literal. It really is just an average day in the life of someone in a gulag. While it is illuminating, it does not have a plot. It does, however, have some interesting characters, and I can appreciate it for the historical information it provides. So again, I sort of like it.

    I Know What You Did Last Summer by Lois Duncan - This was presented to me as a slasher novel. I feel cheated. Not only does the "killer" not kill anyone, but the bitch-ass MCs are so godawful that I was hoping they would die. Just to clarify, the MCs (the "good" guys) run over a kid on his bike and then leave the kid to die because they are afraid of getting in trouble. The next year, the kid's brother seeks revenge and tries to kill them. Sadly, he fails repeatedly and the dumber-than-dirt, spoiled brat, asswipes (a.k.a. the MCs) who are the epitome of all that is wrong with humanity get to go back to living their lives while some poor dead kid receives absolutely no justice. To sum it all up, the villain kills no one, but the heroes get away with killing a child. (You know, basic hero stuff.) I want to shred this book and set it on fire! I have also read Duncan's Killing Mr. Griffin which had similar main characters. What is it with her and writing unlikeable, spineless, twits for MCs?
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  25. #50
    Power to the pen! Taylor Harbin's Avatar
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    "Magonia," by Maria Headley. Annoying protagonist (but I did sympathize with her chronic illness). Ridiculously over smart and filthy rich love interest teen boy (who somehow keeps his money hidden from his lesbian parents). Magic system that is both vague and useless, since the MC's powers can be co-opted by anyone. Present tense. How I hate present tense. And to top it all off, it's just volume one of a forthcoming series.

    "The Eyes of the Dragon," by Stephen King. REALLY? This is the same guy who came us "The Dark Tower," "IT," and "The Shining?" A so-called "fantasy" with fart and booger jokes? Chapters that are only a paragraph long? I'm amazed I was able to finish it.

    "Kracken," by China Melville. Very good premise and beginning. A giant squid carcass that's stolen by cultists because they think it's a weapon of the Apocalypse? Count me in! But after 100 pages, I stopped dead and never picked it up again. The narrative is crammed full of British-isms and dialect that I couldn't understand (and I've been watching Monty Python since I was twelve!). Once the story split into three different POV characters' arcs, I quit.

    "Mockingjay." Just.......ugh.

    "Hatter Fox," by Marylin Harris. An brutal yet encouraging story about a man trying to help a tortured Navajo orphan get out of prison and make a new life for herself...only to be killed off by a freak bus accident in the last five pages! I nearly threw it across the room.

    "Into Darkness," by Harry Turtledove. Too many characters with no development. Essentially taking WWII and giving it a fantasy mask, which just didn't work for me, a die-hard military historian.


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