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Top 5 worst books you've ever read
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Apple



Joined: 24 Nov 2008
Posts: 1751



PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 9:23 am    Post subject: Top 5 worst books you've ever read  Reply with quote

Thanks to Evie for setting up this sub forum, and I am sorry I have not been around to take advantage of it after making the intial overtones about us talking about books, but now the silly season is over I am hoping I have more time again.

I thought that debating and discussing what books we have considered crap and why would be quite entertaining as tastes vary so much and what one person considers a cracking read someone else may consider the oposite.

I think my number one worst book I have read of all time has to be 50 shades of grey, I'm pretty sure everyone is familiar with the epic rant I had about this book when I read it last year, so I don't want to really repeat myself in that respect but I think I made my reasons abundantly clear here:

http://bigreaders.myfastforum.org/about1860.html

A close second is Twilight, again another rant is available which gives my reasons why, but not quite of the epic proportions of 50 shades.

http://bigreaders.myfastforum.org/about638.html&highlight=twilight

After much thought my third choice may come as a surprise it is Grave Secret by Charlaine Harris, the concluding book in the Harper Connelly series this series of books was excellent in my opinion the characters were interesting and engaging and the story although in the realms of fantasy was thoughtful and deep, but it became obvious that Ms Harris got bored very quickly with this character and the final book in the series was dire, it concluded an ongoing question throughout the series far too quickly and unbelievably and you were left thinking oh ok thats it then!

Number 4 - Jane Eyre I don't know what it is about this book but I have tried to like it I really have, it took me forever to actually get through the whole thing in first place it took several aborted attempts to actually read the whole thing as i abandoned it several times before finally finishing it, it didn't engage me and there was just something missing it was a complete ordeal to get through but I cannot understand why, so I am hoping perhaps someone could offer some insight as to why.

Finally, number 5 I respect this book as classic literature and accept it is a well written classic, BUT it just didn't float my boat, we all know of the background as to why I read this book in the first place, I am of course talking about Nana by Emile Zola, my views of it can be found here:

http://bigreaders.myfastforum.org/about373.html&highlight=nana



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verityktw



Joined: 18 Dec 2008
Posts: 145



PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 11:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Apple!

I haven't thought of five yet, but I can immediately think of one book I HATED reading which may come as a surprise to some (and I hope someone can mount a defence that they like it, rather than just an 'It's an important book' too):

The Prelude - William Wordsworth

It is the only book I read for my degree that I really don't think I got enough benefit out of for the time I put in. My very sophisticated criticism would go something like:

Quote:

Dear Wordsworth,

The Epic Poem and its traditions are not about you and never will be.

All the best,

Verity


I have more time for the rest of Wordsworth's poetry than I once did, but I still get the impression that if we met I would think he was an egotistical prat.

Rant over. Normal service resumed  Wink




Last edited by verityktw on Sat Jan 05, 2013 12:32 am; edited 1 time in total
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TheRejectAmidHair



Joined: 19 Nov 2008
Posts: 3864


Location: Staines, Middlesex

PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 12:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You do mean The Prelude, don't you?  One of my personal favourites. The finest blank verse poem in English. (Milton? Pah!)

And it's not really about Wordsworth. His principal theme was the growth and development of the human mind: he focused on his own mind because that was the mind he knew best.

There is so much about this poem that is so wonderful, that it's hard to know where to start. Book 10, for instance, which deals with the French Revolution: spellbinding stuff. Or that superb passage early in the poem where he describes taking a boat out on the lake at night. The subtlest, finest nuance of thought is unerringly captured. Or what about that visionary episode on Helvellyn in the final book? Seriously, if I were forced at gunpoint to choose a single work of English poetry, it would be The Prelude. It's a work I return to often.

(And it's also the book Andrew Motion would take to the desert island with Shakespeare and the Bible - so there!)

Not convinced? Ok, here are a few lines from Book 5. They seem to me among the most beautiful and touching lines of poetry anywhere. Those lines leading up to that startling phrase "uncertain heaven" really do take my breath away.

There was a Boy; ye knew him well, ye cliffs
And islands of Winander! many a time,
At evening, when the earliest stars began
To move along the edges of the hills,
Rising or setting, would he stand alone,
Beneath the trees, or by the glimmering lake;
And there, with fingers interwoven, both hands
Pressed closely palm to palm and to his mouth
Uplifted, he, as through an instrument,
Blew mimic hootings to the silent owls
That they might answer him.—And they would shout
Across the watery vale, and shout again,
Responsive to his call,—with quivering peals,
And long halloos, and screams, and echoes loud
Redoubled and redoubled; concourse wild
Of jocund din! And, when there came a pause
Of silence such as baffled his best skill:
Then, sometimes, in that silence, while he hung
Listening, a gentle shock of mild surprise
Has carried far into his heart the voice
Of mountain-torrents; or the visible scene
Would enter unawares into his mind
With all its solemn imagery, its rocks,
Its woods, and that uncertain heaven received
Into the bosom of the steady lake.

This boy was taken from his mates, and died
In childhood, ere he was full twelve years old.
Pre-eminent in beauty is the vale
Where he was born and bred: the churchyard hangs
Upon a slope above the village-school;
And through that churchyard when my way has led
On summer-evenings, I believe that there
A long half-hour together I have stood
Mute —looking at the grave in which he lies!

I really do love Wordsworth's poems deeply. He certainly has a place on my ideal bookshelf.



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verityktw



Joined: 18 Dec 2008
Posts: 145



PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 12:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I do indeed mean The Prelude  Embarassed - clearly even more tired than I thought!

I agree that some of Wordsworth's poetry is stunning (and clearly his poetic ideas are incredibly influential), but personally I didn't feel that The Prelude worked - in spite of beautiful passages like the one you quoted. Though its subject is intended to be the development of the mind, I think it often fails to reach beyond Wordsworth's own thoughts about self. Give me Paradise Lost any day!

Plus, I'm certain that if I had more time to spend to read and study and appreciate it, I'd get more out of it. But, reading books en masse  for your degree rarely allows that amount of leisure (ironically...).  

No offence to Wordsworth - or certainly to your tastes - intended, but it was definitely one of my worst ever reading experiences when I had to read it in 2008.

What are the worst books you've read - or rather the books your disliked most - Himadri?


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TheRejectAmidHair



Joined: 19 Nov 2008
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Location: Staines, Middlesex

PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 12:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Generally, most books I read are from the past, and so, a lot of the filtering (separating out the wheat from the chaff) has already been done by the passage of time. I don't always agree 100% with the judgement of time, of course, but I can think of little I've read where I haven't got at least something out of it. If I find myself not getting on with a book that ha been widely admired for enerations, I'm usually happy to ay the shortcoming at my own door ather than at the writer's. And if a book really is that bad that it starts to irritates me, I'd stop reading it: life's too short!

Even a book that I think is utter piffle (see here, for instance: I had to read this for a book group I was in) can be fun, as I can always amuse myself by scrawling obscene comments in the margin!



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MikeAlx



Joined: 17 Nov 2008
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Location: Seaford, East Sussex

PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 10:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

From my vague memory of the In Our Time programme, aren't there two different versions of The Prelude? I seem to recall Wordsworth made major changes to the 2nd edition. In which case, is one of them considered canonical, or do experts still argue about it?



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TheRejectAmidHair



Joined: 19 Nov 2008
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Location: Staines, Middlesex

PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 10:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pedants will argue there are 4 texts! There are a couple of versions of a shorter two  part version dating from 1798-1799. Then, there's the 14 part epic from 1805. Wordsworth then went on fiddling with the text and altering t for the rest of his life, and the state the text was in at the time of his death in 1850 was published posthumously. Indeed, all the texts are published posthumously: not even the 1805 text was published during Wordsworth's own lifetime.

The general consensus of opinion is that the 1805 text is superior to the 1850 text. I won't dissent from this, but the 1850 text is by no means negligible. Both the Norton Critical edition and the Penguin edition print the two texts on opposite pages (leaving blank spaces when some passage occurs in one version but not the other) so it's easy to compare and contrast. The Norton edition also prints the 1798 two-book version; Penguin prints this also, plus the 1799 text of the same.

(Edited to correct an erroneous date)



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verityktw



Joined: 18 Dec 2008
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 10:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, I believe I read the Norton Critical Edition, with parallel texts.


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TheRejectAmidHair



Joined: 19 Nov 2008
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Location: Staines, Middlesex

PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 10:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wish someone would publish similar parallel texts of Hamlet and of King Lear. In both cases, the texts of the good Quarto and of the Folio are significantly different, and the indications are strongly that Shakespeare revised both works. Arden prints the two texts of Hamlet in separate volumes, but a parallel text edition would be more welcome. The Oxford Shakespeare gives us two texts of King Lear separately. All other editions give us composite versions, merging the texts together, and hence offering us something that Shakespeare never wrote.



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Green Jay



Joined: 13 Jan 2009
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Location: West Sussex

PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 4:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

verityktw wrote:
Plus, I'm certain that if I had more time to spend to read and study and appreciate it, I'd get more out of it. But, reading books en masse  for your degree rarely allows that amount of leisure (ironically...).  



That was my experience too, though it was a very long time ago. Such a pity, as bookworms think it's going to be a great opportunity. Much of my degree reading was galloped through by necessity and then I'd have to form trenchant opinions. It did none of the books, poems or plays a good service, and I think some of my worst reading experiences have come from that time. Reading to study is not the same as reading to read -for leisure, pleasure, or just to think properly in one's own time, and form links and follow reading threads, rather than a curriculum.

I'm scarred by The Prelude and Paradise Lost! As soon as I stopped having to study it I began to understand (some) poetry. But haven't been back to either of these. I think I was reading in a blind panic as a student, blind being the operative word.



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