Books We Can’t Believe We Read

*stares at piles of course-prescribed texts*




Oh dear – I can think of a few I read and immediately wished I hadn’t so I’ll share a few of those! Unlike Janet I don’t keep very good track of what I’ve read, so alas I’m working from memory here, so there are probably many other books I could add to this list, but here’s what we’re working with for today.

  • Wuthering Heights. Hate, hate, HATE. Words cannot describe I hated this book. I remember reading this in high school and just being flabbergasted that it was considered a classic. Terrible, mean-spirited, unlikeable characters who ruin the lives of everyone around them in a series of ridiculously over the top acts of cruelty. All because they couldn’t just TALK TO EACH OTHER INSTEAD OF JUMPING TO CONCLUSIONS.  Just because was written by a long-dead English person doesn’t make it a classic.
  • Lord of the Flies. Another title I read in school and just could not stand. As an overweight kid with asthma, the portrayal of Piggie was just too close to home. The phrase “sucks to your assmar” was burned into my brain for ages. Not very pleasant.
  • War and Peace. This is one I can’t believe I actually read, because honestly I didn’t really enjoy it, and I am notorious for DNFing books. I really just slogged through it so I could say I did. I didn’t enjoy the “peace” portions at all – they just bored me to tears.
  • Ghost Month by Ed Lin. I can’t believe I was able to finish this one, because it was bad. I managed to slog my way through it for a book club session, and I’m actually glad I did, because we all hated this one, and had a great time bashing it. The premise and the setting are fascinating, and I was really excited to read a mystery set in Taiwan, but the protagonist is just a pompous jerk (who claims to be just a normal guy but who has women falling all over him and fighting for him), and the narrator would repeatedly pause the action to provide endless dry monologues about Taiwanese culture and history that could have been really interesting, but which read like a school report delivered by a very bored high schooler. The end “reveal” didn’t make any sense, and the whole thing was just a bit of a let down.
  • Jude the Obscure – OH MY LORD JUST LET THE POOR MAN EXPERIENCE ONE MOMENT OF JOY, HARDY YOU BASTARD. I can’t believe I finished this one, but I just had to keep reading out of sheer disbelief that a book really could be this bleak.
  • Flowers in the Attic – *shudder* I still wish I hadn’t read this book. It was one of those books that I read as a tween because a classmate whispered about how “adult” it was and I wanted to be cool and read grown-up books, too. Just…ewwwwww…… How did this ever become a national bestseller?!?! Incest, child abuse, rape, and all just played out for sensational shock value. Just so much icky icky ickiness.


Turning to my trust Books Read list (with marginalia) for help with this one. I’m skipping over the mere so-soblah, and enh notes to feature the truly awful.

  • Fallen by Lauren Kate. Pretty sure I read this because Nafiza said it was a prime example of rape culture in YA. My note beside the title in my Books Read list is succinct, if not detailed: complete trash.
  • Pegasus and the Flame by Kate O’Hearn. The narrative literally blames the protagonist for suffering grief at her mother’s death.
  • Not Just Another Princess Story. (Illustrations were good though.) Strained and painfully mundane.
  • Another Me by Eva Wiseman. Stock characters, uneven development, disjointed emotional continuity, attempted/threatened rape with no real consequences or exploration of the aftereffects, unconvincing romance, girl blamed for not wanting her lover when he possesses the body of a boy she doesn’t like/finds annoying, Jewish characters as victims with no depth whatsoever? Blaaaaah.
  • Battle Magic by Tamora Pierce.  I have a soft spot for this author, who gave me stories of girl knights and girl mages at an age when I could find few girl heroes, but this book was just trauma piled on trauma for the characters. Completely pointless.
  • The Man in the Iron Mask by Alexandre Dumas. Want a happy ending? Want any amount of happiness at all? Don’t read this one.
  • Notes from a Totally Lame Vampire by Tim Collins; ill. Andrew Pinder. Funny at times (Twilight send up) but not quite worth reading.
  • 44 Hours or Strike! by Anne Dublin. Middle grade novel in which the protagonist’s older sister is sexually abused with no real resolution or exploration. Also, the writing is terrible.
  • Head Hunter by Eric Howling. If I were to teach a creative writing class, I would use this as an example of what not to do. One of the worst-written books I’ve ever read + worst thought-through.
  • Batman: Arkham: Killer CrocStarted out okay (old comics); then very male and bleak and violent. Would not reread. 
  • Anything by Margaret Atwood.


  • Vanity Fairy by Thackeray
    OH MY GOD. Just. WHY WAS IT SO LONG? And why was it so depressing? I hated every minute of it.
  • The Life and Times of Tristam Shandy Laurence Stern.
  • The Luminaries
    I did this to myself. I reached the ending and wanted to throw the book at a wall for the resolution it gave me.
  • Untouchable by Mulk Raj Anand
  • Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger


Don’t forget to share your own Top Ten Tuesday list with us in the comments!