Thursday, March 19, 2009

Booking Through Thursday: The Worst of the Best

This week’s question is: “What’s the worst ‘best’ book you’ve ever read—the one everyone says is so great, but you can’t figure out why?

It’s hard to narrow this down to just one, so I’ve picked three (or five really, since three are part of a series):

The His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman: This series was recommended to me by my sister, but I just didn’t get the appeal. I actually read the first two books and then quit halfway through the middle of the last book. I found the main characters unsympathetic and unappealing; and the whole god-and-angels thing in the third book bored me.

The Fox by D. H. Lawrence: I read this book years and years ago, but I remember hating it intensely (although that didn’t stop me from reading it in its entirety). The story struck me as way too obvious in its symbolism and, quite frankly, sickeningly misogynistic. I’m pretty sure I’ve read another Lawrence novel, though I don’t remember which one. In any case, I’m not likely to read any others!

Testimony by Anita Shreve: I’m not sure this book strictly qualifies as either a “worst” book or a “best” book, but it is an example of a recent book I reviewed that (almost) everybody seemed to love except me, and I can’t quite figure out why... I was especially disappointed in this book because Shreve is a favourite author of mine.

Has anyone else read these books and either loved them or hated them too?

Read other answers to this week’s Booking Through Thursday question.


  1. I haven't read any of those. I don't really care for Anita Shreve though, and never got the hype over her.

  2. I generally like Anita Shreve too, but I haven't gotten to Testimony yet. Based on what you've said about it, I might just skip it altogether!

  3. I loved the Pullman books, but you're right - the third book did drag after awhile. I was less interested in the theology than the characters and their daemons.

  4. Of the books you've mentioned, I've only read The Golden Coumpass, and I forced myself through the last bit, waiting and waiting for the wonders I'd heard about. I found the imagry was sometimes not enough, sometimes to forced. I didn't think it flowed well, and I realized at the end of the book that I didn't care one way or the other about the characters.

    A lot of the classics fall into the Worst Good Book category for me.

  5. I just got Testimony and will have to come back and check out your review after I've read it.

  6. I have Testimony sitting around in one of my TBR piles. I don't know if I'll ever read it! It's based on a scandal at my husband's old high school- that's the only reason I was even interested. shrug!

  7. I must say I generally really enjoy her books, Holly, just not this one!

    Julie, I won't discourage you from skipping Testimony, although lots of folks did like it.

    Teabird, I agree, that was the best part of those books! I wouldn't mind a daemon myself!

    Number One Novels, I'm not always a big fan of the classics either, although I have enjoyed the Brontës, Austen, etc. (and recently discovered Wilkie Collins). It's a different pace though, so you have to be in the mood for it.

    Melissa, I'm looking forward to reading your review!

    Marie, I remember you mentioning that in a comment on my review (I think). I'd be curious to see what you think of it, since (maybe) you have a bit more of an insider's perspective on the story.