Books are like people. Some you take an instant liking to. Some take a while to get to know and warm up to, but are worth the time and effort. Some are kind of annoying, but since they also have great qualities, you’re willing to put up with them. Once in a blue moon, you come across some that you feel were meant to be in your life, if only for a short while. There is the rare, but wonderful occasion when you come across one you want to have in your life forever. Some really repel you, but you’re fascinated by this very repulsion and can’t help yourself from wanting to find out more about them, if only to confirm what you already know: that you really don’t like them. The books I’ve listed here are mostly in the latter category.
I usually feel quite badly about not liking a book, mostly because I know that it took a great effort for someone to write it and somehow manage to get it published. But with so many books—as is the case with so many people—out in the world, we inevitably come across some individuals that we like best when we see the back of them. I have a rule of one hundred pages. Well actually, it starts off as a fifty page rule I heard about somewhere; if after fifty pages I really can’t stand a book, I allow myself to drop it. In some cases thought, things only start coming together after a while, so I’ll push on to 100 pages. Many times, this has proved to be worth the effort. Once in a while, I get a book before it’s released on the market in exchange for a review, and I’m more or less stuck with it. But I happen to really like writing reviews, and while I approach this task with some trepidation, always, sometimes panning a book that really didn’t work for me (the repulsive kind that you can’t help trying to figure out) proves to be a—yes—fun! exercise.
As with the first three lists, this final list of my Best and Worst of 2011 includes links to my reviews. If you can spare the time to read a few, you might get a chuckle or two. Or you may be inspired to read some of the books on this list anyway, because they in fact sound mighty appealing to you. If you do, I’d love to hear all about it!
… And the Least Favourite:
Black and Blue by Ian Rankin
Numerous awards and honours didn’t help me like it better.
Dead Souls by Ian Rankin
felt like it dragged on and on and on… and on
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules by Jeff Kinney
The first book made me laugh out loud. The second one was wimpy in comparison.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Made me so upset I threw it across the room. It bounced back, so I picked it up, continued reading, and ended up enjoying it a lot more after that.
My Reading Life by Pat Conroy
He has legions of fans, but just too wordy for me.
Sandman: The Doll’s House by Neil Gaiman
Invisible River by Helena McEwen
Father’s an alcoholic and makes daughter’s life hell. Then things get worse.
The Rehearsal by Eleanor Catton
I got brain sprain from too many mental gymnastics.
Playback: A Graphic Novel by Raymond Chandler
Some truly bad drawings ruined a Noir classic.
L’argent facile (Easy Money) – Stockholm Noir 1, by Jens Lapidus
Four despicable young guys mixed up in get rich quick drug scheme. ‘Nuf said.
Emma, Volume 1 by Kaoru Mori
Guess I’m not a fan of manga after all…
The Night Bookmobile by Audrey Niffenegger
A depressing story not helped by bad artwork.
In Search of Klingsor by Jorge Volpi
Only physics freaks need apply.
The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
Story about self-important jerk wins Booker Prize. End of story.
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
This 10th anniversary edition audiobook with 12,000 extra words made my ears bleed