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Which classic or lauded book did you hate?

Earlier, in the "books you've been meaning to read" post, a few discussions drifted into the territory of classic, beloved, or acclaimed books that let people down. So I thought it would be fun to talk flipsides: which ostensibly "good" or "great" books did you find yourself wanting to throw at a wall?

The example I think of first, for me, is On the Road — though I had weirdly complicated feelings about it at different points. I've written on this before, but I wanted so badly to love Kerouac, and to be honest I really did like Dharma Bums — it filled a niche for me at an important time. But I couldn't get over the myopia and privilege and frequent sloppiness of On the Road, not even for some decent passages of music writing. Some sections in it made me queasy. The worst part was, because of the people I hung out with, I was afraid to say I disliked it. I went around for a year or two pretending to like the damn book! Stupid stupid.


It's a short story and not a book, but "The Short, Happy Life of Francis MacComber" by Hemingway did the same damn thing to me, but magnified. I could appreciate the craft, but I was so mad at what the story was actually about that I've never really been able to look at it since those first couple reads.

I also felt very similarly when I read some of Roth later down the line, but by then I was savvy enough (thanks, Hemingway!) to understand why I was reacting how I was. I also tried really hard to enjoy Chuck Palahniuk at some point and spent every word I read of him completely enraged.

Remember to disagree civilly with each other, if you do. Your favorite book might be someone's worst nightmare, for a totally legitimate reason in both cases. Different strokes!

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