Tuesday, December 18, 2007

LIST: Worst Reads of the Year

I should have posted this before my best reads, but I guess had already put this collection out of my head. I can generally find something to like in most books, and I don't think I'm very critical or fussy about the books I read, but some just don't do it for me.

There weren't too many books I'd put on a worst read list, but a few stand out:

On the Road - Jack Kerouac : only book this year to DNF
Pedro Paramo - Juan Rulfo : magical realism is not for me
Elizabeth Costello - JM Coetzee: ugh, but I'll try Coetzee again, but just one more chance, bub

Not on the same level of bad, but not great reads, just too boring, include:

The Virgin Suicides - Jeffrey Eugenides: not on the same level for me as Middlesex
On the Water - JM van de Brink: nothing offensive, just too quiet
Generation X - Douglas Coupland: I still love him, just not this one. (read pre-reviewing)
The Picture of Dorian Grey - Oscar Wilde: too long and boring

On the Road was read and reviewed before I started blogging here. I'm reposting my review I wrote because I can't really link to it:

It is very seldom I don't finish a book, but there are too many good books I want to read to continue with this one. I think I get it. Not much happens but a bunch of beatniks [slackers] put off finding real work and travel the roads, living on nothing, scamming food, breaking rules, scoring drugs, living for the moment. The writing style is very conversational, with tangents within sentences, but he sounds like he's on cocaine and trying to cover everything, and is so full of what he wants to say, he can't take a breath. If there were, say, a plot to follow; some sense of where this story is going, I might continue. But I even, gasp, looked at the last chapter to see if anything else might happen, but it is just more Dean updates, and nothing seems to have happen. It is like one long Christmas letter following these loosely associated friends that are driving me nuts with their self serving, avoiding life, philosophy.

I know, this bookwas a huge change in expectations that people had for their lives, that there were other options of life, new ideas being proposed and the beatniks were a novel lifestyle. But I am always annoyed by people who realize after much soul searching what they should be doing. It's not that they realize it, that's great for them, it's the need they have to tell others about their discovery. Like drug addicts who then protylize that drugs are bad and they ruined their life and don't let it ruin yours. Some of us already knew that; you got to live the fun life and now repent. You knew that drugs were bad and you tried it out; why will you change others minds?
I think the Bohemian life is just too slacker for me. I gave the book a try, almost halfway through, and it felt like an obligation to keep reading, like taking medicine: it's good for me, keep taking it. Well, there are too many other books to try and this one wasn't going anywhere else. I'll try Generation X by Douglas Coupland instead. At least I'll get the cultural references. It's not a classic for this challenge, but I'll find another.


  1. I was so disappointed by The Virgin Suicides that I've never gotten around to Middlesex.

  2. Middlesex is one of my all-time favorites, but I have never read The Virgin Suicides. On the one hand I want to, on the other I am really, really hesitating. Mostly because the book doesn't appeal to me that much, and connected to that: What if it is a big disappointment after Middlesex? You guys are only adding to my wanting to wait a bit more (or just not take up the book at all).

  3. My son said almost the exact same thing you did about "On the Road", so that one moves way down my list of priorities.

  4. I wholeheartedly agree with you on On The Road. I did enjoy Generation X and The Picture of Dorian Gray though.

  5. bybee - I loved Middlesex; it is nothing like TVS. Nothing. Much more epic and sweeping and just all around better.

    myrthe - not the same type of book at all. I've seen people rave about the Virgin Suicides, but it didn't do it for me.

    kookie - some love Kerouac, but it was terrible for me. I was getting annoyed and bored at the same time.

    john - I didn't hate Gen X, just didn't get it. I liked all his phrases, and the notes on the side though. I liked the concept of Dorian Gray, just not the execution

  6. Whew, thank goodness I'm not the only one to dislike 'On the Road'!

  7. popping in again....I couldn't understand how Dean Moriarty got all that adulation from women and from Sal. Kerouac writes him like he's spastic. The novel was much better when Dean was out of the picture and Sal was on the road with his own thoughts.

  8. melanie - It feels weird when you can't stand a book others love so much. It makes me wonder what I'm missing. But there is a lot of dilsike for On the Road out there, I've discovered.

    bybee - I don't think I made it to Sal on the road without Dean. It seemed like a narration on cocaine.


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