Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Top Ten Books That Disappointed Me


Last week, I posted a list of the Top Ten Books I Enjoyed More Than I Expected, so it only seems fair to also post a list of books that surprised me in the other way, Top Ten Books That Disappointed Me.

Now, I want to be clear here - these aren't necessarily books that I hated. I rarely dislike a book so much that I don't finish it (though there are a couple of those on this list!). Rather, these are mostly books that I had high expectations for, books that I expected to LOVE and didn't. I know that some of these books are beloved by many people - in those cases, it's a matter of "it's not you, it's me." Reading books is a very personal experience, and no two people are affected in exactly the same way by a particular book.

So, without further ado, here is my list:

  • East of Eden by John Steinbeck – all-time favorite of a close friend of mine; I liked it but didn’t love it – too depressing and almost no likeable characters.
  • The Probable Future by Alice Hoffman – liked it OK, but I guess I’m not really into the magical/mysticism angle.
  • The Green Knight by Iris Murdoch – loved the movie Iris and wanted to read one of her books; maybe I chose the wrong one.
  • Manhunt by Janet Evanovich – big fan of her Stephanie Plum books but this romance had none of her usual humor, suspense, or cleverness.
  • Cowboys Are My Weakness by Pam Houston – most of my book group hated it; I didn’t even finish it; characters were too passive.
  • City of the Beasts by Isabel Allende – I’ve heard great things about her adult books and looked forward to this middle-grade adventure, but the characters seemed flat and the writing awkward and repetitive; maybe a poor translation?
  • Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert – everyone in my book group hated it; I couldn’t finish it; pointless and condescending.
  • Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson – a well-loved author I wanted to love, but along with most of my book group, just found it too depressing, though we did have a good discussion.
  • Live a Little by Kim Green – I found the main character’s actions despicable – she discovers her cancer diagnosis is a mistake and doesn’t tell her family!
  • Annie Freeman’s Fabulous Traveling Funeral by Kris Radish – I loved the premise and wanted to love the book but, like everyone else in my book group, found it repetitive and a bit tiresome after awhile.
How about you? Are there any books that have disappointed you? Books that everyone loves that you just didn't like that much?


  1. I've seen the movie, East of Eden, but have not read any of the other books you listed, and I won't! I don't like books that are TOO depressing either.

  2. I havent read any of these.... :Whew!" LOL

    Actually one that is really surprising me is The Lovely Bones. I am currently listening to it on audio and it just seems like it goes on and on. Oh, and on.

    I am curious about the movie now... considering what the book is about I think maybe the movie will be able to capture it better... maybe?

  3. I'm loving these lists of books to try. My disappointment was Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys. Just couldn't get into it.

    I'm a big Iris Murdoch fan. Try 'The Bell', much more do-able.

  4. Sheila - I haven't read Lovely Bones but know that some people loved it and some people hated it! Maybe I'll try the movie...

    Jo - Thanks for the Iris Murdoch suggestion! I would definitely give her another try.