[NSR] What are the best and worst books you have finished?

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Syd
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[NSR] What are the best and worst books you have finished?

Post by Syd »

To parallel the What are you reading now? thread, and because I'd like to find some new things to read; what are the best and worst books you have finished? Not read a chapter and dropped, but completed?

Best: Probably A Tale of Two Cities (I've read it several times)
Worst: Moby Dick (I had to read it in high school and thought it sucked. Picked it up about 20 years later, because it couldn't have been as bad as I remembered. It was)

To show how subjective these choices are, my niece told me the Tale was unreadable, and lots of people say that Moby Dick is one of the best American book of all time.
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Post by BuddyRaton »

Worst - Clan of the Cave Bear. 468 pages of chipping freaking rocks.
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Post by charlie55 »

Best: A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century

Worst: Catcher in the Rye - had to read it in high school. 200+ pages of drivel. Made reading the ingredients on a bottle of spring water a riveting experience by comparison.
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Post by jim morgensen »

Without a doubt Moby Dick. Forced to read it as a high school freshman, tried again many times as an adult and just figured that life is to short.
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Re: [NSR] What are the best and worst books you have finishe

Post by peabody99 »

Syd wrote:To parallel the What are you reading now? thread, and because I'd like to find some new things to read; what are the best and worst books you have finished? Not read a chapter and dropped, but completed?

Best: Probably A Tale of Two Cities (I've read it several times)
Worst: Moby Dick (I had to read it in high school and thought it sucked. Picked it up about 20 years later, because it couldn't have been as bad as I remembered. It was)

To show how subjective these choices are, my niece told me the Tale was unreadable, and lots of people say that Moby Dick is one of the best American book of all time.
Even if you hate Moby Dick, you might love In the Heart of the Sea (N. Philbrick), which is written based on ship logs etc, its on the story of the whaleship Essex sinking which MB is based on. I have terrible ADD, and could not put this down.
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Post by laxer »

It's tough to pick just one: Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card changed my life. Reading Cormac McCarthy's The Road is something every father should do.

Worst: Happy Feet...no wait, that was the worst movie. Worst book is a toss-up between The Legend of the Duelist and The Forest of Hands and Teeth (to be fair to these books, I love to read and have such a long list of recommended books that are great that I rarely pick up something that I don't like on some level).
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What are the best and worst books you have finished?

Post by theflash784 »

When I was working the midnight shift, I decided to read some of the classics that I did not read in high school. Work could be very slow on mids in winter. I liked the Tale of Two Cities. I tried reading Moby Dick but had to give up because it kept putting me to sleep. I thought Wuthering Heights was pretty boring and really didn't see the great romance between Heathcliff and Catherine that everyone talked about. I liked the Leatherstocking Tales by Fennimore Cooper. I like a story that has a good pace-keeps moving-with believable chartactors that you can relate to and like. I really love a series Nora Roberts writes as J D Robb- In Death series. I'm waiting for her new one to come out next month. I re-read David Weber's different series and also LE Modesett Jr's various works. [/u][/b][/i]
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Post by jrsjr »

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway. It's a quick read that I never get tired of.
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Post by TVB »

There have been too many books that I loved, for different reasons, that it's hard to say which one was "best". But one measure would be books that I've finished not once, but twice or more. Another would be books that I've bought more than once.

Of those, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance comes out on top. I first read it as assigned reading in high school, went out and bought my own copy, then replaced it when I lost it. (Superficially, it's an autobiographical novel about a man taking a road trip with his son, but is overlaid with an exploration of metaphysics and insanity.)

A close second would be Stuck Rubber Baby by Howard Cruse, which I bought in hardcover when it was first released (I never buy hardcovers), gave it away, as a gift, then bought again when it came out in paperback. (Also drawn from autobiography, it's the story of a gay white boy coming of age in the racist South of the 1960s.)

The worst book... well, if I really hated it, I didn't finish it. That even goes for assigned reading in school; I was a good enough bullshitter to write papers about books I didn't read and still get a "B". Books I remember giving this treatment to include Madame Bovary and Everybody's Pepys, both of which were salacious for their time, but still tedious by mine. Two books I chose to start (but never finished) were The Silmarillion and God Emperor of Dune, in both cases "a book too far" into a fantasy/sci-fi world-building exercise.
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Post by Tristik »

~~
Note: I read Sci-fi/Fantasy

One of the best "books" I've read was The Space Wolf omnibus. It's a Warhammer 40k book, but it's not like most of them. It shows you how they pluck people from primitive planets, and the process they go through to become Space Marines.

Most of the Warhammer 40K books are fairly generic sci-fi, but this one has more heart than most of them.

Worst book? Well, whenever Magic: The Gathering brings out a new set of playing cards, they have someone make a book based around the set. They aren't really bad, but they are pretty generic.
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Post by neotrotsky »

laxer wrote:It's tough to pick just one: Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card changed my life. Reading Cormac McCarthy's The Road is something every father should do.

Worst: Happy Feet...no wait, that was the worst movie. Worst book is a toss-up between The Legend of the Duelist and The Forest of Hands and Teeth (to be fair to these books, I love to read and have such a long list of recommended books that are great that I rarely pick up something that I don't like on some level).
Funny, I put "Ender's Game" as one of the worst books I have had to read. Trite ending, total lead on to the "reveal" of the plot twist and just the same old overtread sci-fi crap, and I'm a fan of the style!

Best? There are QUITE a few, but it is honestly a tie with "Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy" or "The Peaceful Warrior". One satisfied my scientific and math mind with humor when I was a teenager, and the other appealed to the Buddhist side as a young college student. What makes them great is that I can pick them up and enjoy them just as much as when I first read them. THAT is the mark of a good one.
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Post by neotrotsky »

The funny thing about The Silmarillion is that everyone loves to hate it, but yet every hardcore Tolkien fan as read it, including myself. It's not one that's talked about (for obvious reasons) but it does prove how well thought out the story was to have an ENTIRE mythology, lineage and patience of nobility for even the most insignificant of characters.

But, agreed. It's like reading the geek's version of The Old Testament, but without the cool battles in such vivid details. Pretty damn dry.
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Post by BuddyRaton »

I'm with you on the Hitch hikers guide (for CBR 2012 my number was...what else...42)

Best Sci-fi might be Steel Beach - John Varley
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Post by Sassy Chassis »

I've read lots of really good books and sometimes I get one or two that are just "okay." However, the book that stands out in my mind as being just plain AWFUL is Wuthering Heights. After I was done with it I couldn't believe that people would recommend it to others to read. I like classics and Jane Austen books, but WH didn't do anything for me. Guess I'm not alone because someone above has already mentioned it too :P
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Post by Keys »

I have read and finished so many hundreds....nay, thousands...of books that attempting to pick one best and one worst would possibly be beyond my abilities to ascertain
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Post by persephonelily »

Keys wrote:I have read and finished so many hundreds....nay, thousands...of books that attempting to pick one best and one worst would possibly be beyond my abilities to ascertain
My thoughts as well!

I've read some really terrible books. I'll read almost anything in the fantasy genre; and that does include vampire books. I've read some pretty good ones (none of the vampire/werewolf/supernatural beings of broody romanceyness are truly great), and some really, really terrible ones. Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey have to be the worst pieces of crap I have ever read, hands down. I read Twilight before all the hype and I was so angry that I had wasted the time that I was almost inspired to write a letter to the author and demand she refund my time somehow.
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Post by Rob »

As others have mentioned, it's very difficult to pick a winner and a loser ...

But, for top contenders for a worst book, I'll go with a couple that I've read in recent years:

The winner of the loser category
Atlas Shrugged - I know it was a popular read, but far too slow paced for me.
A close second
One Hundred Years of Solitude - This is one I should have stopped reading early on, but I read every painful page.

Rather than go with a best, I'll choose the book that perhaps had the biggest impact on me.
Helter Skelter - I read it when I was much younger and it was an eye opener in terms of the depth of evilness that exists in our society.

Rob
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Post by laxer »

neotrotsky wrote: Funny, I put "Ender's Game" as one of the worst books I have had to read. Trite ending, total lead on to the "reveal" of the plot twist and just the same old overtread sci-fi crap, and I'm a fan of the style!
To be fair, the first time I read it was in eighth grade, and the series evolves into a much more complex piece as it goes on. I'm also a huge fan of Scott Card's characters and how he effectively puts you inside their thought processes. But, to each his own.
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Post by Stormswift »

Best- Dolores Clayborne, Winds of war, War and Remembrance
Worst- Twilight. I have not and will not bother with Shades of Grey.
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Post by Stormswift »

Forgot....Frank Herbert Dune and the rest of it when it comes to scifi
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Post by ScootLemont »

Worst.....
I know it was a big sensation but I read all 3 of The Girl with the dragon tattoo books & was VERY disappointed.


I kept reading them because I assumed since they were such an international sensation, they must get better. But they did not.

I almost threw my kindle when I got to the big plot twist in the first book. Really?!!! That is the plot twist? That is the most overused and cliche murder mystery plot twist ever.

I admit I may have been expecting more because of the hype & because I have read everything John Sandford has written so by comparison... these books were garbage with a ludicrous plot and cardboard cutout characters.

Best
John Sandford's Mind Prey
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Post by Coffeejunkie »

"The Perks of Being a Wallflower" is by leaps and bounds one of the worst books I have ever read. Never have I read a book where the author makes such a desperate attempt to make you like the main character. You can almost hear the author saying on every page, "Please like him, please...please???"
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Post by PeteH »

I read all Sanford's Prey books in order a couple of years ago, and thoroughly enjoyed them. I think my next Epic Re-Read will be Len Deighton's Bernard Samson triple-trilogy.
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Post by still shifting »

Worst Atlas Shrugged Thats a fairly consistant opinion on my part, I critisize the Writing, as this is not a political form. Best, well... Om; the secrete of Ahbor Valley by Talbot Munday will always be hihg on the list. R
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Post by Dooglas »

Best? That is a pretty subjective question, and my view changes depending on what I have been reading :wink: . I'll offer up a few really good novels I've read lately.

The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern

19Q4 - Haruki Murakami

Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro

Now, if we are talkiing classics, I'm a sucker for the great Russian authors. My personal favorite of this genre is Mikhail Lermontov's A Hero of Our Time. William Gerharde captured this Russian style well in his novel Futility, which is somewhat easier reading than Dostoevsky or Tolstoy.
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Post by gr8dog »

Wow! What a well read group we are, well, all of you at least.

I have read so many books that I have thoroughly enjoyed it is impossible to pick a single best. A few I found extremely hard to put down were "Up Country", by Nelson DeMille and "Sandstorm" by James Rollins.

Worst literature by far was anything by Sylvia Plath!!!! Required reading in college literature. I found it nothing more than mental toilet paper.
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Post by Syd »

Not best definitely not worst so certainly worth mention are Larry Niven's Ringworld and The Illuminatus! Trilogy by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson. If you don't know of either you should look for them; Illuminatus! won my love for its interpretation of the Law of Fives: "Everything in the universe relates to the number 5, one way or another, given enough ingenuity on the part of the interpreter." Classic!
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Post by Tazio »

Best book I've ever read is James Joyce's Finnegins Wake.

Worst book I've ever read is James Joyce's Finnegins Wake.

I've been reading it for about 50 years now and still don't get it.
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Post by ericalm »

Anyone actually finish Gravity's Rainbow? :)

Best/worst pretty damn hard for me. I've read a lot of pulp/genre fiction that's not necessarily well-written but had some entertainment value. If something's really all that bad, I usually don't finish.

I have to say, my most rewarding read in maybe a decade was Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle. It's challenging in terms of length and scope, but not too challenging in terms of brainpower. More of a very enjoyable endurance challenge. Highly recommended for history buffs, math and science nerds, fans of historical adventures.

Aside from Stephenson, my favorite authors include Paul Aster, Don Delillo, Philip K. Dick, JG Ballard, Sam Shepherd, David Mamet, Dashiell Hammet, Raymond Chandler, Chester Himes (and many other pulp/crime/noir novelists), Michael Chabon, John Irving up to the late-'80s, Kurt Vonnegut, William Gibson…

Many more, but those all wrote at least one thing that changed my way of seeing the world.
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Post by still shifting »

Chester Himes! Blind Man with a Pistol And the some what lascivious Pink Toes.
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Post by viney266 »

worst ? EASY...the Scarlet letter. My God, could you be more verbose!!! get on with the STORY...what an aweful book.

Best? wow, thats tough...Armor...yeah thats it John Steakley
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Post by Syd »

Oh, another good one: Sometimes a Great Notion proves that Ken Kesey wasn't always high.
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