Pub Writes

About the publishing Industry, editorials, and reviews

Worst Books I Read for School

Posted by Caitie F on September 2, 2010

Yesterday I talked about the best; today I am talking about the worst. Again, it is in no particular order

Worst 10 Books I read for a class

1. Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

I had to read this for my Editing Children’s book and it was a problem for many reasons. The first is that I took the class after Breaking Dawn had already come out, so most people in the class had already read it…and we all have very strong opinions of it (all but one were negative). The other reason it was one of the worst is because the next year she switched it to The Hungar Games, which is so much better and we could have learned so much more from (and yes, it was out when I took the class.

2. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

This one I had to read twice, once in AP English and once in my second British Literature course. Both times I despised the book. I hated all of the characters. I thought the writing was boring and unimaginative. Sometimes, analyzing bad books is still interesting, but this was not. We ended up discussing the same things in both classes.

3. Lolita by Vladmir Nabokov

At least this book was interesting to discuss! I took a class where the professor focused finding the real and true within the layers of society…and we read some really bad books to try to find it. This was by far my least favorite in that course. I hated the plot, I hated the writing, I hated the characters. I know some people absolutely love it, but I am not one of them at all.

4. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

This was another summer reading book for my junior year. I never minded summer reading. I read so much anyway that it didn’t bother me (other than freshman year where I had to go through The Odyssey and Catcher in the Rye to find quotes to support answers to about 30 questions. Both of those books do not appear on this list because that experience ensured I would dislike them). But this book bothered me. It was long. It was boring. It was the only book in high school and college that I did not finish reading. I got through the first 250 pages, saw that nothing was happening, and read the rest on SparkNotes. The thing is, I still passed the test on the book the first day of school.

5. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

I know this is a controversial pick. People seem to love Toni Morrison and this book especially but I cannot stand her. The place she is writing about – Lorain , Ohio– exists. It exists about 15 minutes away from where I grew up. It is where I had swim team practice for 6 yeas of my life. It is where I went to meeting for the political group I was in every two weeks. It is a real place with real people and it is where she grew up. Lots of people live like her characters did in that book. But she does nothing to help. She has made so much money from those experiences, but she doesn’t give back. The graduation rate at the high school she went to is incredibly low. She does not do anything. I know she doesn’t have to, but it really bugs me because she could do so much to help that area.

That said, I also really didn’t like the book or her writing style at all.

6. Autumn of the Patriarch by Gabriel José García Márquez

So yesterday I said there was a class that I loved because we read novels to learn history that was good…other than this book. It was dull, slow, and a chore to read. I was not a fan of the stream-of-consciousness style of the book. The sentences rambled on for pages without even going anywhere. I was convinced I would never read another one of his books, but I have been persuaded to give him another try.

7.  Pale Fire by Nabokov

Read this for an honors class and everyone in the class thought it was awful. We basically begged the professor to take it out of the final paper because none of us wanted to write about it more than once. Luckily, he agreed. From Wikipedia, “The novel is presented as a poem titled “Pale Fire” with commentary by a friend of the poet’s. Together these elements form a narrative in which both authors are central characters.” It was one of the most difficult and frustrating books I have ever read. Even when the professor explained the parts that we all did not understand, it was still just bad.

8. The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane

The only novel we read sophomore year that I didn’t enjoy. I thought the characters were annoying, the writing was slow and over-descriptive, and finding the symbolism was a little too much pulling.

9. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

I read this in middle school and it was a bad idea for that teacher. It made all the advanced kids hate Dickens. The only thing any of us remembered past the week we finished it was when Miss Havisham is on fire. So slow and so descriptive.

10. The Iliad by Homer

I read this one twice for school – in a mythology class and an early literature class. I think the stories within the overall story are interesting, but I don’t like the way they are told. I felt the same way about The Odyssey.

Did I miss something in these books that you loved? What books did you read in school that you hated? Let me know in the comments!

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5 Responses to “Worst Books I Read for School”

  1. Amanda said

    You had to read Twilight for school??

    I’m one of those people who love Nabokov and Lolita is my favorite of his. Gorgeous writing. Pale Fire, on the other hand, does too much sacrificing of story for style, and while I managed to finish it two years ago, it’s not my favorite of his.

  2. I’ve never read any of these and for once, I think that’s a good thing!

  3. AmyKB said

    Great Expectations was the bane of my existence for the month (or however long it was) we studied it in 9th grade English. HATED it.

    I didn’t like Jane Eyre when I read it (also 9th grade).

    Hated Frankenstein. The best part about that unit was getting every question right on the pre-test (aka I knew the full name of the author and that Frankenstein was not the name of the monster, LoL).

    Didn’t care for Their Eyes Were Watching God (12th English), The Stranger (11th), Summer (summer reading after 11th), Ethan Frome (on which I had to do my spontaneous IB oral), Faust (once in undergrad, twice in grad school).

  4. Caryn said

    Aww, I loved The Iliad and The Odyssey–but that might be from my literary crush on Odysseus 🙂 I still have to read Wuthering Heights, and I hope it’s not too bad.

  5. Em said

    I didn’t have to read any of these for school, although “The Bluest Eye” was a choice book once. I read “The Red Badge of Courage” about a year ago and was extremely bored the entire time. I’m not super into books that focus on the battlefield, but I think this one was extra special in my lack of enjoyment of it all.

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