I’m the Only Reader on the Planet Who Didn’t Love…

  • August 24, 2022

When these bookish bandwagons left the station, we weren’t on ‘em.

I’m the Only Reader on the Planet Who Didn’t Love…

Agatha Christie. “I first picked up Agatha Christie when I was about 16 but quickly gave up as I found it trite, cliched, and utterly uninteresting. That impression has now been confirmed. The Murder at the Vicarage, the first in the Miss Marple series, was our book-club selection. The librarian told me Christie remains the most popular author in their holdings, and I know Miss Marple is an iconic character. But I had to force myself to finish this book, and I’ve already forgotten practically everything about it!” ~Amanda Holmes Duffy

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson. “This is a fictional tale of a serial killer that is not only repellant, but also is largely fabricated and palmed off on unsuspecting readers as true; the author admits in an endnote in two-point type that he made up a lot about the supposed murders. Keep walking. There’s nothing to see here.” ~David O. Stewart

William Faulkner. “It seems like I’m the only one who didn’t love much of his work.” ~David Bruce Smith

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. “Sorry, rabid Jane Austen fans — and the Austen oeuvre in general. Austen makes me feel that she is a tad too pleased with herself and that I am watching her admire her writing; her novels are oddly cold. It wasn’t until Emma Thompson brought Sense and Sensibility to the screen (with some judicious character-pruning) that I could enjoy the story, which led me later to enjoy the Keira Knightley P and P adaptation. Thus, apparently for me, Austen movies are generally better than the book.” ~Jenny Yacovissi

The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy. “I broke up with someone when I found out this was his favorite novel; overwrought and self-conscious and unbearable (the book, not the guy).” ~Heidi Mastrogiovanni

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. “Sexist, simplistic, sentimentalized tropes presented as a story of self-awareness and empowerment for a young man — and not in any way truly original at that. Relegates women to childlike water-gatherers happy to hold down the fort and wait for their men to return from travels to find purpose and fulfillment. Presents sanitized depictions of the Middle East and Europe and the tensions between the two, implying everything was better in earlier, simpler times.” ~Liz Robelen

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. “I read the first few chapters and then got anxiety wondering when the main character was going to die again. I just couldn’t get beyond chapter five.” ~Laura Hazan

The Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling. “I dutifully read the series that both my youngest and my longtime BFF loved. Give me Philip Pullman and his dark materials any day.” ~Ellen Prentiss Campbell

The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller. “It was wildly popular when it came out 30 years ago, but I had to force myself to get to the end, mostly so I could speak more knowledgeably on just how bad it was.” ~Chris Rutledge

Maus by Art Spiegelman. ~Ronald Goldfarb

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. “While the atmospheric writing was exquisite, I didn’t feel engaged by any of the characters or drawn in by the overall plot.” ~Mariko Hewer

Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier. “First, the character Inman is willing to do almost anything to survive, so when [redacted to avoid spoilers]…it stretches credulity. Second, Frazier grants Inman one blessed night with the love he has traveled through hell to reach; of course, that one night begets a child. Still, these two ‘lucky shots’ launched Cold Mountain up the bestseller list and onto the big screen, so I’m guessing the author doesn’t regret them.” ~Drew Gallagher 

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. “At some point, this worthy but simple middle-grade story was anointed THE Very Important Book About Race in America. The result? Millions of us read it in junior high, patted ourselves on the back for finally understanding slavery’s complex legacy, and figured our work was done.” ~Holly Smith

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