Books My Friends Hate

Last week I asked folks to share a book they hated to help me get started on the first square of my Books on the Nightstand Summer Reading Bingo card (check it out here). That square requires I read a book “hated by someone you know.”

I thought it would be fun to ask a bunch of people to share a book they hated and then choose from that list, because I probably would’ve never decided on a book had I casually asked around for a few weeks.

So I asked and people replied here on the blog, on Facebook, on Google+, and in person. All told I collected a list of 57 books. Relatively few people commented that hate is such a strong word. Folks jumped right in and let it rip.

The books most mentioned and then band-wagoned were:

  • The Bridges of Madison County
  • Eat, Pray, Love
  • Gone Girl
  • Atlas Shrugged 

The most “defended” book was The Picture of Dorian Gray. One person said she hated it because a college prof killed it for her. At least four people felt compelled to reply saying they loved/enjoyed the book. That didn’t happen with other titles.

The only author to appear twice with two different titles listed is Karen Russell. Ouch. However, one person said any novel by Henry James would qualify.

Thankfully, no flame wars broke out. Some think book people are all detached and civilized, but I’ve known English profs who’ve duked it out in the hallowed halls over literary slights. But I think most of us understand that a book hits us in different ways at different times in our lives. What was once hated or boring can, years later, be enjoyed or engaging. And vice versa. That happened to me with The Great Gatsby (It went from hated to appreciated).

One reader’s pain is another reader’s pleasure.

Without further ado, the list:

Over the years many of these books have also been recommended to me as “must reads.” I’ve read a handful of them, most recently Wuthering Heights, which I wouldn’t say I hated, but it did leave me scratching my head wondering why so many have considered it a great love story.

What book is The Chosen One?
 I used random.org to pick the book and had my wife watch so I wouldn’t be tempted to cheat if Faulkner was selected. The Wheels of Fate landed on #28: Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates.  It’s been on my TBR for a couple years, so I’m pleased with this selection process. I was seriously dreading a few of these titles.

A big thank you to all who participated! I enjoyed seeing the anti-recommendations roll in and chatting about these “hated” books. I’ll report back in a few weeks about what I think of Revolutionary Road.

Do you think a list complied of your friends’ hated books would look similar or would it be radically different? Why?

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7 replies »

  1. Wow, that is an impressive list! I'm looking forward to seeing what you think of Revolutionary Road.

    I think it's interesting that so many of these are “must reads” or by very popular authors — I wonder if that makes the “Ugh, no thank you” reaction proportionately stronger than it would for more obscure books or books that are generally recognized as mediocre?

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  2. Oh my goodness. So many books I like and/or love on that list. I have to agree with the Dorian Gray defenders and think perhaps in general books that were killed by teachers should possibly be disqualified. After seeing the list I would like to wholeheartedly endorse Clockwork Orange being awful. I wish I had said that.

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