7 On Sunday: High-Rated Books on Goodreads That You Didn’t Like

This week’s prompt makes a nice contrast to last week’s about low-rated books that you loved, but it was much harder to find books that fit! I was fully prepared for any of the Twilight books to come up on the list, but apparently their average ratings are quite a bit lower than I thought. This week’s prompt was also challenging for me because it’s very rare for me to really strongly dislike any of the books I’ve read, if I’ve chosen it for myself. Through doing reading challenges for so many years now, I’ve become very good at choosing books that I think I’ll enjoy and it’s very rare that I read anything that I rate 3 stars or below. I had to do quite a bit of digging back through my list, and also use a fairly generous definition for what is considered “high-rated” on Goodreads. I decided to define a high rating on Goodreads as anything that had an average of 4.00 or higher based on a fairly significant number of ratings, and even with that definition, it was challenging to find many books that I didn’t like. The highest rated books on my list were almost all from popular series such as Harry Potter, most of Sarah J. Maas’s books and other YA series. I may go back another day and follow the recent Youtube trend of noting the “best books I’ve read according to Goodreads” since that seems like it will be a very different list. In general, I’ve enjoyed many of these popular books so I had to dig a lot to find some that I didn’t like as much. To be fair, all of these books were rated 3 stars so it’s a bit of a stretch to say that I didn’t like them at all, so instead I’m looking at it as I didn’t like them as much as everyone else.

7 on Sunday is a new weekly project that was started by Grace of G-Swizzel Books, with a weekly topic for videos and/or blog posts! The official Goodreads group with topics can be found here

1) The BFG by Roald Dahl

I suspect my opinion of this one might have been different if I had read it when I was younger. I had several Roald Dahl books that I read over and over and absolutely loved, but this was one that I don’t think I read at all until I was an adult. If I had read it before, I have absolutely no memory of it whatsoever. I chose this book because of a reading challenge prompt that required a book from the BBC’s The Big Read list, and because I had such fond memories of reading many of this author’s other books, especially The Twits and George’s Marvelous Medicine. Ironically, even though Matilda is one of my all-time favourite movies, I didn’t read that book until I was an adult either. This book has an average rating of 4.22 stars based on just over 440,000 ratings, but for it me it was a bit disappointing. I found the BFG’s speech patterns annoying at the time. I’m actually looking at it again now and it doesn’t seem to be bothering me the same way, so it may be worth trying this book again at some point, but it definitely did not live up to others by this author for me.

2) Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

I could also include Little house in the Big Woods on this list for the exact same reasons, but decided to pick this one since it is the more famous of the two and also had a slightly higher average rating (4.20 stars based on around 278,000 ratings). I know this book is such as children’s classic, but I found it so boring! I don’t remember reading anything from this series before, but my mom insists I read at least one or two of them in elementary school when we learned about pioneers. If that’s the case, it obviously didn’t have any kind of impact on me at all. I can see where these books would be useful for teaching children about pioneers given the amount of detail they go into, but I found it incredibly dry and I couldn’t connect with any of the characters. I also found it very difficult to read characters’ attitudes toward Native Americans, although I do appreciate that the author chose not to sugar-coat her family’s biases. I honestly don’t think I would have found these books any better if I’d read them when I was younger except maybe if I’d had a particular interest in pioneers.

3) Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

I want to reread this book because I don’t think my rating was particularly fair at the time. This book was one of those classics that I felt like I should read and I was interested in the storyline, but I don’t think I really understood it at all. I don’t remember exactly when I read this one because I didn’t start accurately tracking my reading until 2015 when I started doing reading challenges, so it must have been some time before that. It also means that I have no notes or anything about what I thought about the book at the time to refer to in order to even understand why I gave it only 3 stars. I seem to remember thinking that I didn’t like Charlie because he became very arrogant, but I have no idea of that’s actually the reason. This book has an average rating of 4.18 stars based on 578,000 ratings and I’ve always felt like I didn’t really give it a fair enough chance. I suspect I would like this a lot more if I read it again.

4) From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg

To be honest, the most distinct memory I have of this book is that I first heard of it because of a Babysitter’s Club book where Claudia mentioned it. I remember that I had at least tried to read it around that time but can’t remember if I finished it. If I did, it left no lasting impression at all and I ended up rereading it in 2015 as part of my first reading challenge under the assumption that I’d never finished it. The only comment I’d noted about it at the time was that it was “pretty good, but I think I would have liked it better if I had read it as a kid.” I’m not really sure if that’s true since I don’t think I even read the whole thing when I did try it as a kid, but it’s possible I would have liked it a little more. This book has an average rating of 4.15 stars based on just over 202,000 ratings but it is also a children’s book from the late 1960s so I’m not that surprised that I didn’t connect with it very well.

5) Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

To be fair, I wasn’t super motivated to pick this one up in the first place, but I decided to give it a try because I’d seen so many people talking about it. This book has an average rating of 4.11 stars based on a little over 100,000 ratings and I ended up giving it a pretty solid 3. The main reason I didn’t really care for this book as much is because I’m not particularly interested in travel-themed books and I tend to prefer YA contemporaries with a little more to them than just a romance. This book did include a plotline about Lina meeting her father for the first time, but I found her very frustrating. I don’t actually remember too much about this book, but I’d noted at the time that she seemed very clueless about things that seemed so obvious, especially in the “mystery” of who her father was, and I also apparently disagreed with a lot of her behaviour toward the end of the book, although I didn’t specify in my notes what that meant (I read this in 2017). It was a decent, fluffy story but I definitely didn’t love it as much as everyone else seemed to. I am somewhat interested in trying the Netflix adaptation though, since I find these travel books tend to work better visually for me than as books.

6) The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

I had very little interest in reading this and probably wouldn’t have if I hadn’t needed it for a challenge prompt, but I also remember seeing a ton of hype around it. This book has an average rating of 4.08 stars based on juts over 251,000 ratings, but I was a bit underwhelmed and ended up rating it just 3 stars. The most interesting part was seeing how the main character attempted to adapt and fit in at his new school, while also dealing with how others on the reservation felt betrayed by his choice to leave. However, I was disappointed by the limited character development, and found most of the characters too one-dimensional. I also noted at the time (2016) that I thought there was too much emphasis on violence and alcoholism to the point where it started to feel unrealistic and even bordered on stereotypical to me, although the book is semi-autobiographical, so it might just be this author’s own experience. Even reading through a summary again just now to refresh myself, it seemed like too many negative events were piled on, especially toward the end, and it lost me. I definitely did not understand what all the hype was about with this one.

7) The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

This is probably another controversial one because of how hyped this book was, but I just couldn’t get into it at all. This book has an average rating of 4.05 stars based on 362,598 ratings, and I ended up giving it 3.5 stars. I was not especially motivated to read this and I think that probably affected my experience, but I also saw so many rave reviews saying this book was “powerful” and “fast-paced” and unfortunately it was neither of those for me. This book was technically well-written, but it was told from such a distant standpoint that it lacked any kind of emotional connection or impact for me. Having studied this period of American history in some depth, I also was not particularly shocked by the depiction of slavery. Given how hyped this book was, I was very disappointed that I didn’t enjoy it more, but it felt like such a chore for me to read and took me an unusually long time for a book that was on the shorter side (just over 300 pages). I wish I’d enjoyed this one as much as everyone else had.


One thought on “7 On Sunday: High-Rated Books on Goodreads That You Didn’t Like

  1. Pingback: 2022 End of Year Book Survey! | Abyssal Librarian

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