At this time of the year it seems like everyone is making lists of the best books of the year, but we thought it would be interesting to talk a little about books that were our least favorite. Most readers end up with a few books each year that they didn't like. Sometimes it's because they thought, based on description of the book, it was a different kind of book. Other times, the book just did not stand up to expectations. Here are our favorite least favorites of the year.
A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World
by Charlie Fletcher
I didn’t dislike it as much as I was just apathetic about it. Based on the description, it should have been right up my alley; A boy's dog is stolen in a post-apocalyptic world and he chases down the thief and his beloved pup. Adventures ensue.
I just could not get into it. It feels to me like one of those books I just picked up at the wrong time. I plan on giving it another go later on down the road. Maybe I’ll try it in audio format and see if that changes my perspective.
The Second Mountain: the Quest for a Moral Life
by David Brooks
Again this year, my least favorite is a non-fiction title. There are so many fiction books I put down after a few pages that I can’t pick one, but this title stands out in my memory. I like David Brooks. I admire his ability to disagree civilly and to be open minded to social issues while towing a fiscally conservative line that makes sense to me. I had high hopes, but was disappointed in this one. Like my “least favorite” choice last year (Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules . . . ) this feels like another case of a man faced with disillusionment when he truly expected none to come his way. The insights, again, seem simplistic and delivered as if no one had ever thought of them before. I still like David Brooks. I’m glad he’s discovering his “truths,” but this book wasn’t for me.
This Is How You Lose the Time War
by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone
So many people have loved this book, so I'm left wondering why it did so very little for me. I contemplated not finishing it multiple times, but there was enough of a story that I kept reading. I can buy into the unique plot and characters and normally beautiful prose is right up my alley, but this did not come together for me at all. It left me feeling like I am just not clever enough to get it.
by Kate Atkinson
I have a rather unusual relationship with Kate Atkinson’s books. I feel compelled to read them, because there is something about her writing that draws me in, yet I never feel quite satisfied. Her Todd family stories, Life After Life and A God in Ruins, are creative, well-written, yet somehow left me feeling that I missed a link. Maybe I should be embarrassed to admit it, but I have read Life After Life 3 times just trying to figure out this missing link. She is very talented, and I was at least hoping for some of the Life After Life/A God In Ruins complexity but Transcription’s plot was too obvious, I can safely assure you that I will not be rereading this. I will, however, most likely be waiting to read her next book!
How to Be Like Walt: Capturing the Disney Magic Every Day of Your Life
by Pat Williams & Jim Denney
Normally this book should be right up my alley. I love all things Disney as all my coworkers here can tell you. Walt Disney World is to me the happiest and most magical place on Earth. But this book was a huge disappointment. Disney has a broad appeal to people of all different races, genders, orientations, & faiths. But these authors kept trying to force their Christian faith in where it didn't belong. It really seemed forced in rather than being natural to the story they were trying to tell. Most of the lessons they were trying to spread could apply to, and be appreciated by anyone regardless of their religious affiliation. By trying to make it seem like the morals and lessons were solely of Christian design and origin they seemed determined to alienate a broad spectrum of people who would have just as easily have appreciated it's message to appeal to one vocal subgroup instead. To me it just comes down to it seeming like it intentionally tried to alienate rather than include.
The Lost Girls of Paris
by Pam Jenoff
“While I have read other books by this author and really enjoyed them, this one fell short for me. I especially found Grace's story line difficult to believe though I felt like the other story lines could also have been improved. Because I had a difficult time finishing it, I could only give it two stars.”
Thread of Grace
by Mary Doria Russell
I tried to read this one a couple of times and never finished it. It is about the Jewish refugees that crossed over the Alps and landed in northern Italy. The people there took them in and hid them from the Germans. It was a good book. I just had too many distractions and did not finish it. I will try again.
Dead Man's Lane
by Kate Ellis
I enjoyed the "light mystery" aspect of this story. The part that was hard for me to get through was the author's portrayal of archaeologists and the way they do their jobs which wasn't totally correct (but then this is a story!). I probably disliked the book because of this portrayal because I have a background in archaeology.
The Trial of Lizzie Borden
by Cara Robertson
This is a very well researched book, but it read more like a textbook than an interesting nonfiction to me. I ended up not finishing it.
This book seemed like it would be a nice venture into contemporary romance and had an intriguing plot summary, but then the plot wrapped up by chapter three and I didn't see any real signs of romance until the last fifty pages. I didn't have a problem with any of the characters, but with not much going in the way of plot and no apparent romance (no even a slow burn), I found myself hoping for even the most cliché of tropes. When the romance finally happened, it moved too quickly for how the characters had been portrayed up to that point. In fairness, I thought the series was a collection of stand-alone novels and jumped in at book 9, so maybe I would've enjoyed more if I'd had context of the previous books.
The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
by Stuart Turton
Although I adored the setting of this book (I prefer mysteries with remote/isolated settings with a limited number of suspects, such as Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None or The Prisoner in the Castle by Susan Elia MacNeal) as it was set in a run-down, English country manor. The story itself was a bit of a let-down; I won't spoil anything, but the reason why the characters are in the setting--and need to repeat a specific day in time--wasn't explored enough, with more focus on the characters solving the mystery versus why the characters were there and who they were outside of the time-loop.
by Tara Westover
I think my dislike for this book mainly stemmed from reading it directly after The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. Both books carry a lot of similarities, but in the wake of The Glass Castle, Educated seemed ego-driven and this made it very difficult for me to connect to the characters. I could not finish it.
by Stephen Chbosky
I was looking forward to Chbosky’s second book, especially because I love thrillers, and the premise was intriguing—a young boy goes missing, and when he returns, he has a creepy imaginary friend. Maybe I was hindered by high expectations and comparison to the author’s previous novel, but it just didn’t hook me. It is quite a lengthy book, so I couldn’t push through to finish it, unfortunately.
by Laure Eve
I technically had to read it for school, but it is a YA book that I would have picked up even if it wasn't required. It was my least favorite because it lacked diversity, character description and development. The ending was also rushed and had no real sense of completion. The story needed another 100 pages to answer the questions I had during the entire book.
Bones of the Lost
by Kathy Reichs
Honestly, this book wasn't really bad, I just liked other books I read this year better. There were just a few too many subplots, too many things happening, and it began to drag in the middle of the book. Everything does come together in the end, but not in a way that made the rest of the book worth it.