It’s funny that this topic should come up now, because it was something I was considering posting about not too long ago when I had the freedom to choose my own Top 10 Tuesday topics. Since I started doing reading challenges, I’ve generally been pretty good at predicting which books I will enjoy but inevitably there are a few that just fall flat for me. Each year, there have been at least a couple of books that just don’t appeal to me much. In some cases, I know going into it that I probably won’t like it because it is for a prompt that I’m dreading (non-fiction, usually), and in other cases, it’s a book that I’m anticipating reading that just doesn’t work for me. In all of the cases listed here, not only did I have a hard time getting into the book, but I also did not enjoy it very much overall.
Top 10 Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish
1) In the Skin of a Lion by Michael Ondaatje
This was by far my least favourite book that I was ever forced to read in school. It was my first real experience with a non-linear format, with a very strict teacher who was absolutely in love with this book, and I just could not get into it at all. English was always one of my best subjects at school and I loved reading and studying books, even if I didn’t always enjoy the books that were selected, but this one was just torturous for me to get through. I had no idea what was going on or how anything connected. It probably didn’t help that I had this book assigned during my most stressful semester of my life, both personally and academically. My best friend actually re-read this book of his own choice several years later and recommended giving it a second chance. He hated it in school too, but when he read it again just for himself, he loved it. I usually trust his judgment so maybe it’s worth a second try.
2) Two Little Girls in Blue by Mary Higgins Clark
Mary Higgins Clark was one of my first adult-level authors that I read, starting in seventh grade. My mom had several of her books and recommended them to me because they were at a higher reading level but appropriate enough content that I could manage them. By the time I tried this one, I had already read and loved two or three of Mary Higgins Clark’s other books, but I could not get into this one at all. This book is about 3-year-old twins who are kidnapped, and only one of them is returned with a note saying that her sister has died. Afterwards, the remaining twin starts to give her parents messages from her sister indicating that they are still connected. I found this book so disappointing because the identity of the kidnappers is revealed almost right away, so there wasn’t much of a mystery. All that is left to figure out is who is masterminding the kidnapping plot. It was boring compared to the other books I’d read by this author.
3) Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
This book was such a slog! Let me be upfront — I often have trouble with longer books unless they really engage me from the start (ie. Harry Potter), and this one definitely did not. This was one of those book series that I’d always heard about when I was younger but completely missed out on. I decided to pick it up toward the end of last year for a prompt requiring a book that was originally written in another language. Since it was a children’s series, I expected this book to be a pretty easy read, but it was very dry. The concept was interesting, focusing on a girl named Meggie whose father can bring characters to life when he reads books out loud. Villainous characters have been brought out of a book called Inkheart and kidnap Meggie’s father to get him to bring a monster out of the book. The concept was very interesting, but the book took way too long to get going. I never connected with any of the characters, and ended up having to switch to an audio version just to get through it.
4) A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain
This is another book that I ended up forced to switch to the audio version just to get through. I absolutely love King Arthur mythology so I was really looking forward to reading this. I chose it for a challenge prompt requiring a book at least 100 years older than I am. The book is about an American man who travels back in time to King Arthur’s court, which he decides to take over and modernize. While I did enjoy a lot of the political and social commentary, I found the narrator arrogant and annoying, and I was put off by the overly long descriptions and Old English monologues. I felt bogged down by the text while reading it, and realized I was reading pages without absorbing a single thing from them. The audio version was much better, but by that point my mind was already made up about the book. This is definitely not one of my favourite classics.
5) The Deep End of the Ocean by Jacquelyn Mitchard
One weird thing about this book — I somehow managed to completely mix up what the storyline was supposed to be. Before I picked it up, I was convinced that this book was about a family who lost their young son in a drowning accident on the beach, and was forced to cope with that. I have no idea what book that one is, but it is not this one. This book is actually about a young boy who is kidnapped from his family during a high school reunion, and later comes back home. The book is narrated by the boy’s mother, Beth, who is one of the most irritating and selfish characters I have ever read. I thought the story had a lot of potential, and I’m not sure if I was just thrown off because it was not the book I thought it was going to be, but I found the book very difficult to get into. It was very slow-paced and dragged on, and the kidnapping itself was pretty anti-climatic. I was very disappointed by this one.
6) Bitter in the Mouth by Monique Truong
I read this book as part of a BookRiot challenge prompt requiring a book by an author from Southeast Asia, which was a pretty difficult prompt to fulfill. I was very interested in this book because the main character, Linda has synesthesia, a condition where people’s senses get mixed up. In Linda’s case, she can taste words that she hears or says. The book started out pretty well, but lost my interest toward the middle when it started to jump around a lot without too much really happening. I was actually a little disappointed that more attention wasn’t given to the synesthesia aspect of the story since it did not seem to serve much purpose other than just making the protagonist a little more unique. I also found it really weird how Linda constantly referred to her uncle as “Baby Harper” and made constant references to her best friend’s weight for no real reason. This book was nowhere near as strong as I expected.
7) Monday Mourning by Kathy Reichs
This book was disappointing mostly because I could not help but compare it to the Bones TV show, which is one of my favourites. I knew going into it that the Temperance Brennan of the book series was very different from the TV character, but I think I underestimated exactly how different they would be. I had a really hard time getting past the differences, but aside from that, I just could not get invested in this story. I found Brennan a pretty boring character and I did not like the way she handled the case she was investigating. I might have enjoyed this book a little more if I wasn’t already familiar with the Bones series, but even in that case, I am not sure I would have liked the characters very much. I actually was not a fan of the writing style in general, and strongly preferred the TV show both in terms of the characters and the case.
8) Kill Me by Stephen White
To be honest, I probably never would have picked up this book if it hadn’t been for my reading challenge, which required a book recommended by someone else. This book was recommended to me by my boyfriend, and it had a very interesting concept. It is about a man who has signed a contract that he would be killed by an organization called the Death Angels if he ever passes a certain “threshold” that he predetermined, such as being diagnosed with a terminal illness or becoming incapacitated. However, the contract cannot be cancelled even if he later changes his mind. While I thought the concept was very interesting, I did not really like the writing style. Ironically enough, I don’t find action sequences very interesting to read, particularly car chases. I was a bit disappointed because the idea behind this book was so fascinating.
9) Among Others by Jo Walton
This may have been the book I was most disappointed by during my 2015 reading challenge, which was chosen for a prompt requiring a book with magic. I had never heard of this book before, but the beautiful cover design caught my attention and I thought the plot sounded really interesting. The book is about a girl named Morwenna whose magical battle with her mother left Morwenna fleeing to live with her father, and her twin sister dead. I love books involving magic and boarding school, but I found this book very disappointing since most of the magical content actually happened before the story starts. I also found the constant references to obscure fantasy and sci-fi books more irritating than anything. The book itself was pretty boring and hard for me to get into, and I was so disappointed!
10) The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel by Deborah Moggach
This is the most recent addition to this list, which I read early last month. I have never seen the movie, and honestly did not care much about this book. I chose it for a prompt requiring a book set in a hotel, and went into it with very low expectations. I often find that it I go into a book expecting that I won’t like it, I don’t. I’m not sure if that was entirely the case here though, since I don’t think I would have liked this book very much anyway. The book is about a man named Ravi Kapoor who sets up a seniors residence in India, partly in attempt to get rid of his obnoxious father-in-law. While I liked some of the commentary this book had about the treatment of seniors in society, I had trouble getting into the story. Some of the characters were unlikable, and others were too hard to distinguish between. The characters’ stories all started out pretty strong, but as soon as they arrived at the hotel, most of the women seemed interchangeable and I got very bored with the story. I did not enjoy this book very much at all, although I have to say that the movie looks much better!