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Old 4th October 2010, 05:09 AM   #41
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While walking by a bookshop one day about 10 years ago a man caught my attention. It was an author doing a book signing and he looked pretty lonely. He told me the story of how he had come to self-publish his work since the major publishing houses were nothing more than an 'old boy network' who shut out unknown authors and new talent. He told a good story so I plunked down $8 for a copy of his latest book...autographed no less!

In short, it wasn't hard to see why he hadn't been published. Grammatical errors and even spelling mistakes ruled. The story was a ludicrous tale about a Canadian secret agent trying to stop some nefarious group from amassing weapons to do something or other.

The thing that I remember most from the novel is that the protagonist comes into contact with every sort of sexy seductress imaginable, both friend and foe, and yet always remains faithful to his wife. The author would describe scene after scene of lurid seduction in exotic locations, written in true romance novel fashion, and yet no actual sex since our hero would always remember his loving partner at home and extract himself from the situation. James Bond he was not.

I pictured the author sitting at his computer, sweaty and hunched over as he wrote those steamy scenes in an effort to live out his unrealized sexual fantasies, only to have his wife enter the room and look over his shoulder from time to time.
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Old 4th October 2010, 05:22 AM   #42
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"Water Music" by T.C. Boyle

My brother is a great fan of picaresque novels and sent me this one with a glowing recommendation back in the 80s. The writing was excellent and you could get lost in it, but... there was no story. It went nowhere. By the end of the book I was angry - I kept waiting for something to happen that never did. It was like going to a concert only to have the MC talk for 2 hours about what the music sounded like and never getting to hear the music. This book was a 200 page dry hump.

Most truly bad books I simply quit reading. This one was written well enough that I kept reading through the end. I kinda wish I hadn't.
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Old 4th October 2010, 05:36 AM   #43
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I'd have to differentiate between "worst" and "least liked". I found Heart Of Darkness to be incredibly tedious as a young lad when we read it in school. Still, listed as one of the great works and all....
I bought the first book out by sci-fi author Elizabeth Moon, don't even recall the title. Really, seriously bad. I see she's still churning stuff out, though.
As well, the first "Dune" novel by Herbert's son, co-written by some graphics-novel guy.
I only made it halfway through.
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Old 4th October 2010, 05:39 AM   #44
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Originally Posted by Bikewer View Post
As well, the first "Dune" novel by Herbert's son, co-written by some graphics-novel guy.
+1 and it reminded me that the sequels to Arthur C Clarke's Rendezvous with Rama written by Gentry Lee then approved by a senile and/or heavily sedated Clarke really deserve a mention in this thread.
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Old 4th October 2010, 05:52 AM   #45
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Something called "Ivan's Hoe" (something like that, anyway). Not about Russian's, not about gardening, no hookers even. Total wash. Didn't get past page one.
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Old 4th October 2010, 05:57 AM   #46
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Originally Posted by Gawdzilla View Post
Something called "Ivan's Hoe" (something like that, anyway). Not about Russian's, not about gardening, no hookers even. Total wash. Didn't get past page one.
It's unusual for an adventure story in having the title character injured in bed for most of the book, but I wouldn't say it was Scott's worst, The Antiquary is much more boring.
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Old 4th October 2010, 05:59 AM   #47
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A lot of people love it, but I thought it was some of the whiniest, most aimless drivel I've ever read: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.
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Old 4th October 2010, 06:14 AM   #48
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Originally Posted by Chaos View Post
...and the Thomas Covenant books (I slogged through the first three because I thought he´d have to improve sooner or later).
Eh. I didn't really mind the Thomas Covenant books. However I would like to give a mention to the 6th book, simply because the ending makes no sense.
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Old 4th October 2010, 06:29 AM   #49
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Whoa! This turned out to be a popular thread! Insane!

(Sent from my Droid Incredible, using Tapatalk. Therefore, more typos may exist in this post than usual.)
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Old 4th October 2010, 06:31 AM   #50
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Xan by Patrick Tilley. Just awful.

Another vote for anything by Clive Cussler. I read one of his following a recommendation by a manager at work. The brain bleach worked, I cannot remember the title.
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Old 4th October 2010, 06:31 AM   #51
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Originally Posted by Guybrush Threepwood View Post
+1 and it reminded me that the sequels to Arthur C Clarke's Rendezvous with Rama written by Gentry Lee then approved by a senile and/or heavily sedated Clarke really deserve a mention in this thread.
That's true but then there was "Cradle" which came before it. Utter tosh! I can't even remember what it was supposed to be about.
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Old 4th October 2010, 06:45 AM   #52
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Originally Posted by Guybrush Threepwood View Post

Other honourable mentions are the Left Behind series and all Clive Cussler's works

Left Behind would likely top my list: I somehow made it through two and a half books with the attitude that it CAN'T remain this bad).

I'd also add the Dark Tower series (there were good parts, but everyone knows the problems with those books so I won't repeat them).

Also Of Mice and Men, just because I was depressed for weeks afterward.
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Old 4th October 2010, 06:48 AM   #53
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Originally Posted by Wowbagger View Post
And, I would prefer to hear about books you actually finished reading, if that is possible. Books that you only started reading a little into, and then threw away don't count, unless that little bit was sufficiently traumatic to your life.

So, by my own rules, I guess I have to skip over a good portion of the really, horribly awful things I put into my eyes through, over the years.

However, there is one book that I can clearly, and distinctly, refer to as The Worst Book I Have Ever Finished Reading, in My Entire Life. Nobody even asked me to read it. I decided to read it, in its entirety, all on my own, as a personal challenge. And, I don't think it paid off, yet. I wanted to finish writing my scything review of it, this weekend, but other writing priorities snuck in. I will have to wait until next weekend before I can publish my literary vengeance! But, I am a patient man...

...A book this offensive, horrible, and nasty to everything I hold dear deserves to have the sort of disgustingly terrible review that I can savor writing every word over...

...And, that book, my friends, is And Another Thing..., which was apparently vomited out of some idiotic moron named Eoin Colfer. (First name pronounced like "Owen".)

(If you only vaguely recognize that name, perhaps this other, wonderfully blunderous work of his will refresh your memory: http://www.internationalskeptics.com...d.php?t=156337 .)

Before it ends, every single character is uniformly painted as an unlikeable jerk. It is juvenile. It is vulgar. It will either insult your intelligence, or assume you don’t have any to begin with. This is, in short, NOT really part of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. This is a literally mockbuster.

In my view, it is a sequel to Douglas Adams' work in much the same way that Titanic II is a sequel to James Cameron's Titanic movie. And, yet, for some reason, it was actually endorsed by Jane Belson, (Douglas Adams' own widow)!! It boggles the mind!!

To compare it to Vogon poetry would do the Vogons a favor, so I won't even bother going there.

I could write more specific details about why it is so gawd-awful, if you want. But, you are not going to like it. If, for some perverted reason, you wish for me to divulge what reprehensible acts Trillian decides to go for, or how Arthur Dent is rewritten as a tactless schmuck, or how Ford Prefect is transformed into a condescending jerk, or, perhaps, how Wowbagger's backstory was rewritten, so he can act more like a pussy; just let me know. I can probably copy and paste a few paragraphs from the draft of the review I am working on.


For now, you can make me feel better by describing some of the terrible books you've managed to survive ingesting, somehow.


ETA: And, for the record, my first name is NOT Bowerick!!
Heh, never heard of this. But Eoin Colfer does write the children's book series "Artemis Fowl," which I really quite enjoy, actually. Maybe he should stick with kid lit.

For me, the worst book I ever finished was Ayn Rand's "The Fountainhead."

Though I would say "The Great Gatsby" was pretty God awful. I probably wouldn't have hated it so much if it wasn't supposed to be one of the best pieces of American literature ever written. I finished it thinking, "Are you KIDDING me? THAT was 'The Great Gatsby?' Really??"
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Old 4th October 2010, 06:50 AM   #54
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Originally Posted by shawmutt View Post
Not a single book, but a series. The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan started strong, dwindled to some sort of meandering nonsense around the 5th book (or 6th or 7th, I've tried to bleach my brain of the series), and continuing to the 12th book, all of which I read hoping the story would pick up again. Then the author died.

Fail.
Never read "Wheel of Time", but that's exactly how I feel about World War series (the one with lizard aliens) by Turtledove.

"Into the Darkness" also by Turtledove is easily worst book I ever threw away halfway through -- and will never touch anything else in that series.

Come to think of it, I am never going to touch anything else by Turtledove, period.
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Old 4th October 2010, 07:02 AM   #55
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I found the Dragonlance "Kinslayer War" (was it a triology?) really tedious reading.
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Old 4th October 2010, 07:04 AM   #56
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Atlas Shrugged. I can't even get started on what's to hate about it. It would be easier to list the things that were good about it: the copy I read wasn't actually radioactive so it didn't give me cancer. It just felt like it had.
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Old 4th October 2010, 07:10 AM   #57
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Originally Posted by autumn1971 View Post
Anthem, by Rand. ...

The Rush lyrics based on Rand's writings are infinitely better and more thoughtful than Rand.

So true. Neil Peart is a much more sensible writer than his hero. And unlike her, and genuinely nice person.
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Old 4th October 2010, 07:12 AM   #58
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Originally Posted by Schrodinger's Cat View Post
Heh, never heard of this. But Eoin Colfer does write the children's book series "Artemis Fowl," which I really quite enjoy, actually. Maybe he should stick with kid lit.

For me, the worst book I ever finished was Ayn Rand's "The Fountainhead."

Though I would say "The Great Gatsby" was pretty God awful. I probably wouldn't have hated it so much if it wasn't supposed to be one of the best pieces of American literature ever written. I finished it thinking, "Are you KIDDING me? THAT was 'The Great Gatsby?' Really??"
The Great Gatsby is the most god awful piece of nothing ever to soil good paper. The only time I didn't do my homework in 12 years of school was when I was supposed to read that. Hundreds of pages of absolutely nothing followed by more nothing.
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Old 4th October 2010, 07:14 AM   #59
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My entry for worst book is The Alchemist, by Paul Coelho. It's excruciating, repetitive, boring clap-trap about a guy who wanders around looking for his purpose in life... or something.
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Old 4th October 2010, 07:21 AM   #60
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Honestly, I haven't had the intestinal fortitude to even consider reading any Rand.
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Old 4th October 2010, 07:22 AM   #61
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Boy Wonder: My Life in Tights by Burt Ward.
As a big fan of the 60s Batman TV series I thought this would be an enjoyable romp into behind the scenes. Left me feeling like I wanted to take a shower afterwards, and the only book that ever ended up in my fireplace, as abhorrent as that is to me.
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Old 4th October 2010, 07:25 AM   #62
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Originally Posted by DC View Post
Koran, stopped on page 40 or so....
Also I would have voted Koran, should the rules allow it. I think I have read 30% of it. As poetry it is crap, as religion it is absolute crap, as a law it is BS, as a historical document it is absolute BS.
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Old 4th October 2010, 07:25 AM   #63
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Originally Posted by Last of the Fraggles View Post
The Great Gatsby is the most god awful piece of nothing ever to soil good paper. The only time I didn't do my homework in 12 years of school was when I was supposed to read that. Hundreds of pages of absolutely nothing followed by more nothing.
It wasn't that bad. It's just really out of date. At the time, it was supposed to be oh-so-shocking--people having affairs! OMG! People feeling alienated from society and each other! Wow! Modern culture is sometimes devoid of meaningfulness! Shock!!
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Old 4th October 2010, 07:28 AM   #64
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Originally Posted by shawmutt View Post
Not a single book, but a series. The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan started strong, dwindled to some sort of meandering nonsense around the 5th book (or 6th or 7th, I've tried to bleach my brain of the series), and continuing to the 12th book, all of which I read hoping the story would pick up again. Then the author died.

Fail.
So I'm not the only one! When Robert Jordan was working on book 12 I thought "Good now I can finally finish this series and never think about it again!". Then he died and the replacement writer decided to make the final book into a trilogy! And I wept... Can I never finish this hellish series!? I never wish to hear about "narrow divided riding skirts" again. Every chapter contains a dozen pages of unnecessary description of the patterns on peoples clothes and what is set on the table in a room where everyone is discussing something unnecessary to the story.

So anyway worst book I ever finished was Wheel of Time book 10 then 9, 8, 7, 6, 5 of the series. Books 1-4 were actually quite good. Haven't read 11 or 12.

The only book I ever stopped reading because it was terrible was "The Sword of Shanara". When I got to the "Council of Elrond"... I mean the part of the book that was Totally NOT the "Council of Elrond" I actually threw it in the garbage. I have NEVER before or since thrown a book in the garbage. It was that bad.
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Old 4th October 2010, 07:32 AM   #65
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Originally Posted by Abe_the_Man View Post
The only book I ever stopped reading because it was terrible was "The Sword of Shanara". When I got to the "Council of Elrond"... I mean the part of the book that was Totally NOT the "Council of Elrond" I actually threw it in the garbage. I have NEVER before or since thrown a book in the garbage. It was that bad.
He got better, though. The second book was totally not a ripoff of Tolkien, and was actually pretty good. Then he wrote some more, of varying quality, which seems to decline over time.
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Old 4th October 2010, 07:36 AM   #66
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Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
Atlas Shrugged. I can't even get started on what's to hate about it. It would be easier to list the things that were good about it: the copy I read wasn't actually radioactive so it didn't give me cancer. It just felt like it had.
Funny you should say that, as just today I read on John Scalzi's blog What I Think About Atlas Shrugged -- while very far from a fan of Rand's philosophy, he thinks she was a passable fiction writer:
Quote:
I enjoy Atlas Shrugged quite a bit, and will re-read it every couple of years when I feel in the mood. It has a propulsively potboilery pace so long as Ayn Rand's not having one of her characters gout forth screeds in a sock-puppety fashion. Even when she does, after the first reading of the book, you can go, “oh, yeah, screed,” and then just sort of skim forward and get to the parts with the train rides and motor boats and the rough sex and the collapse of civilization as Ayn Rand imagines it, which is all good clean fun. Her characters are cardboard but they're consistent -- the good guys are really good in the way Rand defines "good" and everyone else save Eddie Willers and the picturesquely doomed Cherryl Brooks are obnoxious shitheels, so you don't really have to worry about ambiguity getting in the way of your zooming through the pages.

Rand is an efficient storyteller that way: You know early on what the rules of her world are, she sticks with those rules, and you as the reader are on a rail all the way through the story. It's not storytelling that works for everyone, and it doesn't work for me with every book I read. But if you're in the mood not to work too much, it's fine to have an author who points dramatically at the things she wants you to look at, and keeps the lights off the things she doesn't. Basically, I find her storytelling restful, which I suppose isn't a word used much to describe her technique, but which fits for how it works for me.

A good way for me to describe how I relate to Atlas Shrugged is to note that one time when I was in college in Chicago, the only way for me to get back home to California for the Christmas holidays was to take a Greyhound bus. This meant a 53-hour-long bus ride in the company of felons (no joke; the bus stopped at Joliet and some rather skeevy-looking parolees from the prison got on. One of them decided to sit by me and I was treated to delightful stories of prison rape all the way through Iowa). The way I handled the trip was to take Atlas Shrugged along for the ride, and when I was bored, to crack open the book and start reading. The book would put me in a fugue state and when I looked up again from the pages, an entire state would have gone by. It's no exaggeration when I say that Atlas Shrugged probably saved my sanity on that bus trip. So well done, Ms. Rand, and thanks.

That said, it's a totally ridiculous book which can be summed up as Sociopathic idealized nerds collapse society because they don't get enough hugs.
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Old 4th October 2010, 07:51 AM   #67
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Originally Posted by SezMe View Post
A book whose title I can't remember it was so bad.

I'm a huge fan of the Robert B. Parker series of Spenser books. For those who aren't familiar with this series, Spenser is a wise-ass, tough, smart-mouth Boston PI. In a series of novels, Spenser meets a number of tough guys. But the series begins to peter out and it is clear that the series is really played out.

Then Spenser gathers all the tough guys from all the previous novels into one group to battle a gang of thugs. It was so contrived, the plotting so idiotic, the characters so overdone that it must surely serve as the ultimate example of how not to end a series.

And I read it all. Not once because I thought I must have misjudged, but twice. It was worse the second time. Hurl.

As a postscript, there were additional entries in the Spenser series that were simply pathetic. Parker (or, more likely, his publishing house) was evidently trying to push the franchise well beyond its sell-by date but none of them achieved the rancid level of the one I've described.

After this post, I'll see if I can find the specific book.

ETA: Can't find it in wiki and it's not worth the effort to find this piece of bilge.
Spenser started to go downhill when the Susan character showed up.
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Old 4th October 2010, 07:53 AM   #68
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Originally Posted by hgc View Post
My entry for worst book is The Alchemist, by Paul Coelho. It's excruciating, repetitive, boring clap-trap about a guy who wanders around looking for his purpose in life... or something.
Listened to the audiobook. When it ended, I thought there were a couple of CDs missing from the box or something.

Here's a thought: When you write a story, try to have a point.
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Old 4th October 2010, 07:53 AM   #69
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Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
It wasn't that bad.
Oh, it was. It literally stopped me reading books for about 10 years. What on earth was the education system thinking making 16 and 17 year olds read that?
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Old 4th October 2010, 07:57 AM   #70
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Originally Posted by Chaos View Post
Wizard´s First Rule wasn´t all that bad - certainly not compared to the later ones.

I´m not sure which one is the single worst book I ever read, but the later Sword of Truth ones (Faith of the Fallen is the last I managed to finish) are clear contenders, along with the one Got novel I ever read, and the Thomas Covenant books (I slogged through the first three because I thought he´d have to improve sooner or later).
I don't remember which one but I think the worst of the series is a later one where the main character (Richard) from the rest of the series is replaced by a farm girl with a pet goat.
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Old 4th October 2010, 08:26 AM   #71
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Originally Posted by Dave Rogers View Post
A couple of years ago, a friend of mine, who I love dearly but has no taste in literature, bought me Atlantis Discovered, by Clive Cussler. It was quite a revelation to me; I hadn't realised beforehand that reading a book could be such an embarrassing experience. Little things like Cussler's habit of giving a full CV and personality profile of every character at the point they entered the story, his utter contempt for the slightest vestige of engineering plausibility - he had a flying car, the size of a normal saloon car, that, if I recall correctly, was able to fly from somewhere in the USA to Tierra del Fuego and back on one tank of petrol - and his ever-so-coy way of introducing himself into the story as a minor character, made me feel genuinely sorry for someone who could write so poorly and yet have millions of people see it. Eventually, I took the book with me on a holiday in a short-term let which I knew had a couple of shelves full of books that came with the house, and added it to the library before I came home. If my friend ever asks, I'll have to tell her I lost it. At least, though, I finished it, out of nothing more than misplaced loyalty.
Ahem...
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Old 4th October 2010, 08:32 AM   #72
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Originally Posted by Last of the Fraggles View Post
Oh, it was. It literally stopped me reading books for about 10 years. What on earth was the education system thinking making 16 and 17 year olds read that?
I had long been convinced that the real goal of whoever comes up with reading lists for high school students is to make themselves feel superior.
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Old 4th October 2010, 08:39 AM   #73
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The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner:
An Eclipse Novella

I read all 5 books from Twlight so I could know what the heck my teenage sisters was going on about.
The first 4 are not all that good.(bit stupid but it is a book for kids)
But in the 5th book she breaks all the rules of her canon from the other books. She really just busted it out to get a bit more money out of the teens freaking out about the books. It reads like Fanfic.

Last edited by samanthakayee; 4th October 2010 at 08:52 AM.
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Old 4th October 2010, 08:43 AM   #74
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Part of the problem you folks have with Clive Cussler is that you don't get it. This is beach reading, folks. Turn off your brain, and read through as Dirk Pitt/Kurt Austin/Juan Cabrillo/Isaac Bell or whomever the hero is for that particular book happens to be takes on the "impossible," and comes out smiling. Hell, even Cussler himself admits this is what he's about. He has great fun with it, and we're supposed to as well.

(Although, Valhalla Rising was miserable. I think that was the title. Unfortunately, his wife, Barbara, was dying at the time, so Clive was way off his game...)

One benefit to it all, though: Cussler has created an actual NUMA, and as a result, they've located over 100 historic shipwrecks and shipwreck sites. His biggest find to date was the CSS Hunley, the first relatively successful submarine ever to enter military service. Currently, it's on display in Charleston, SC.

Hey, a little fertilizer goes a long way, if you use it in the right field...
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Old 4th October 2010, 08:49 AM   #75
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The Book of Mormon. I couldn't understand how anyone could buy into that brand of nonsense. I donated the book to the library.
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Old 4th October 2010, 08:53 AM   #76
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Originally Posted by Mark6 View Post
I had long been convinced that the real goal of whoever comes up with reading lists for high school students is to make themselves feel superior.
I do also and I do not think that most read the books first. We was made to read The Jungle and all we spoke about was meat packing. They glossed over the whole second 1/2 of the book.
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Old 4th October 2010, 08:55 AM   #77
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Originally Posted by Roadtoad View Post
Part of the problem you folks have with Clive Cussler is that you don't get it. This is beach reading, folks. Turn off your brain, and read through as Dirk Pitt/Kurt Austin/Juan Cabrillo/Isaac Bell or whomever the hero is for that particular book happens to be takes on the "impossible," and comes out smiling. Hell, even Cussler himself admits this is what he's about. He has great fun with it, and we're supposed to as well.
No it isn't, at least not in my case. I do enjoy the odd Cussler, but his descriptions are formulaic, his plots go beyond implausible to somewhere far past comletely impossible and his characters are cardboard. All of those things could be fixed while keeping the fast moving story aspect.
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Old 4th October 2010, 08:59 AM   #78
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Originally Posted by hgc View Post
My entry for worst book is The Alchemist, by Paul Coelho. It's excruciating, repetitive, boring clap-trap about a guy who wanders around looking for his purpose in life... or something.
I think I was bored once, maybe I was waiting at the hospital or something, and my mother told me to read it. It was so shockingly boring I don't think I made it past the first quarter.

I can't think of any truly awful books I've actually read through... Maybe something of David Eddings', I read them when I was 10 or something and wanted something from the library I wouldn't finish in one sitting. Some of those were pretty terrible.
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Old 4th October 2010, 09:15 AM   #79
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I'm in possession of a self-published book by our son's former physical therapist. It is absolutely, laughably horrible. He paints himself as this alter-ego motorcycle-riding, sword-wearing soul hunter for the underworld who is also somehow an alien. He literally cannot be defeated. He has no weaknesses. He never even gets winded. It's the biggest Mary Sue nightmare you can imagine.

The worst well-known books I've read are The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy and Turn of the Screw by Henry James.

Moby Dick is probably the worst book to encapsulate otherwise great ideas.
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Old 4th October 2010, 09:21 AM   #80
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Stephen King's From a Buick 8.

I'm a big fan of his and I'll finish the good ones in a matter of days, but this one was so boring, I couldn't read any more than a chapter or two at a time. I would pick it up periodically after going a while without reading it (to see if it would get any better), but it never did, so back on the shelf it went. Eventually, I finished it after almost three years. Definitely one of his worse.
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