There are some books you can’t wait to read, but somehow leave you cold, despite the accolades they have received elsewhere. On the other hand, there are those books which, on the surface, don’t appeal, but when you eventually read them, usually under duress, turn out to be delightful. That’s the subject of this week’s top ten, as hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.
Books I Enjoyed LESS Than I Expected:
1. The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
Despite winning the Man Booker, and being recommended to me by many people whose views I respect, I loathed everything about this book, from the pompous narrative voice to the painful dearth of a plot. I couldn’t abandon it fast enough.
2. Mr Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
People were frothing at the mouth about this book all over the blogosphere. It was so average in every respect I imagine it has already been forgotten by most people.
3. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
This books has achieved cult status since its publication in 1985. I couldn’t quite work out what all the fuss was about.
4. All That I Am by Anna Funder
Winner of the 2012 Miles Franklin Award, this book had beautiful prose and a story that seemed like it should be interesting but I didn’t feel any connection with the characters, and there was nothing in the plot that compelled me to keep turning the pages.
5. The Secret History by Donna Tart
Perhaps one of the most overrated books of all time, it seems to whip all those arty pseudo-intellectual types into a frenzy. I found it flawed in many respects and a little pretentious.
Books I Enjoyed MORE Than I Expected:
1. Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey
Despite numerous recommendations, I couldn’t bring myself to get jazzed about a coming-of-age tale set in small-town Australia. When it was finally forced upon me as a book club choice I loved every word.
2. The Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling
I found the first Harry Potter book rather tame and was not motivated to pursue the others until I ran out of books on a holiday at Wilson’s Promontory, and turned in desperation to The Goblet of Fire. Instantly hooked, I devoured the rest of the series without delay!
3. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
Confession: I am a little bit of a snob when it comes to books and tend to assume bestsellers are poorly written. But I ran out of books on holiday in Bali and unable to face a flight home without a novel, I snatched this from the swapsy shelf at the hotel and found it absolutely engrossing.
4. One Day by David Nicholls
See above re: snobbery. See above re: running out of books on holiday. Laughed, cried, couldn’t put it down, now recommend it to everyone.
5. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
After dipping my toe into the water of Twilight and being sorely disappointed, I didn’t expect much from this ultra-hyped teen trilogy. I was pleasantly surprised to find it was a bit of a ripper.
Your turn: Have you read any of these? Were you disappointed or pleasantly surprised by any of them? Or something else you’ve read recently?