The Worst Book I Have Ever Read

Every now and again, I like to read a romance novel to amuse myself, or when I don’t want to exercise my brain that much. I don’t expect a lot out of genre romances, but the one I finished most recently was so horrifically bad I think I can honestly say I have never read a worse book. I really wonder how Johanna Lindsey’s Captive Bride (1977) even got published in the first place.

1. Adverbs. So many adverbs. In the first fifteen lines of the book, there were five adverbs. In other parts of the book, adverbs were so prominent that I stopped paying attention to the story and started counting them.

2. Not much description of setting. Parts of the book were set in Cairo, but there was so little description of it, and the description that was there was so cliched, I couldn’t picture the setting very clearly.

3. Dialogue tags. The characters were always “screaming hysterically” or they “shrieked” or “snapped” or “whispered.” If they “said,” they typically “said harshly” or “said happily” or “said merrily,” etc.

4. I burst out laughing at parts where I think the author wanted me to cry or be outraged. I felt like I was watching a very bad soap opera, or an episode of Maury or The Jerry Springer Show.

5. With a title like Captive Bride, I don’t think it needs to be said that there’s quite a bit of Stockholm syndrome here. To me, that’s not exactly the most romantic thing in the world, but hey… I guess that’s what some women fantasize about.

6. Characters acted way out of character. Near the end of the book, a character I thought was perfectly nice and mentally stable turned into a psychopath with a jealous bloodlust.

What makes all this a little better was the knowledge that Captive Bride was Johanna Lindsey’s first book. I’d be interested in reading other books by Lindsey, only to see if she’s gotten progressively better since her first attempt. I’m sure she has, or else she would not be as well known as she is.

So… my questions for you: What are the worst books you’ve ever read? Why were they so bad?

12 thoughts on “The Worst Book I Have Ever Read

  1. I never finish books that I don’t fall in love with after the first two chapters and I always find romance novels so cliche but I see what you means with regards to taking a break. I can vividly remember how much I hate ‘Holes’ Louis Sachar. This was loved when it was published in 1999 but I couldn’t stand it. That would be my least favourite book of all time.

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    1. I have this odd compulsion to give every book a chance, even though it looks like it’ll be terrible. I liked Holes… not my favorite of Sachar’s, but hey – to each her own! Thanks for visiting.

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  2. Two books I found unreadable are, “Infinite Jest”, by David Foster Wallace, and Thomas Pynchon’s “Gravity’s Rainbow”. In point of fact, I’ve never finished either book. Both, in my opinion, are too dense to be enjoyed. While they might be wonderful books, I’ll never know, the wall of obtuse words that surround them is too high and too thick to get over.

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    1. Richard: I’m pretty much of a Pynchon enthusiast, and I’ve always found GR to be rather overrated. I like it a lot better than you did, but I have never liked the ending (I’ve never read it all the away though again after the first time — though I sometimes dip in here and there).

      I much prefer Mason & Dixon and Inherent Vice (which I’ve blogged about many times), and I even like V. (his first novel) better. But if you ever want to try again, with something less imposing, definitely go with inherent Vice.

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  3. I’ve run across several books that I hated. I had to read Great Expectations by Dickens my freshman year of high school and I hated it so much that I’ll probably never pick up another book by Dickens.

    I recently read The Color of Magic, the first book of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, and I thought it was absolute garbage, it was the first (and thus far only) book that I gave a 1/10 rating to on my blog.

    The last book that I actually stopped reading without finishing was Shadow’s Edge by Brent Weeks (the second book in his Night Angel trilogy). My older brother suggested the series to me, the first 200 pages of the first book were fantastic, but nothing else in the book ever worked. Because he said that the end of the series was great I tried reading the second book (after taking a break to read the first 4 books in George RR Martin’s series and a couple other things) and put it down after reading the first 150 pages of the second book and realizing that even without finishing the book I could tell you that those pages didn’t need to be in the story at all.

    So there’s a few books that I didn’t care for.

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    1. Dickens can be really hard to read. I’ve been tempted to try some of the Discworld series… maybe I’ll give it a shot to see if it’s as bad as you say it is. 🙂

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  4. The types of books I can’t read are those with too much detail. Those that go on for pages and pages about one tiny thing. Obviously detail is key to a great novel, however too much detail is just boring. The same goes for books where the plot doesn’t really get started until 3/4 through the book.

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