Most overrated books

The Book Accumulator emailed me after Monday’s post about least favourite books to ask about most overrated books, remembering a few I loathed at school (and about which I am still quite vocal!).

To that end, then:

From school, with loathing:

Albert Camus’ The Outsider. With what has got to be literature’s most emotionally uninvested opening line (“Mother died today”) – although this New Yorker article suggests that English translation has been unkind to Camus – Meursault takes on a boring and self-indulgent tour of his boring and self-indulgent life. I wanted to slap him by the end of the first page.

Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being. This one ticks all my “I hate this book and it will be among my first sacrifices to the zombie cultural apocalpyse” boxes:

– womanising protagonist who feels no guilt

– young wife who self-blames rather than kicking the schmuck out

– preposterously and pretentiously named pets

– overuse of the word “kitsch”

and anything at all to do with existentialism.

Right! Having got that rant out of the way, some of the overrated books I’ve encountered while blogging:

– The God of Small Things – see objections to Unbearable Lightness above.

– Eat Pray Love

– Twilight and 50 Shades.  I refuse to read either of them or have them in my house.

I can’t think of any others right now, but I’m sure some will come to me. Suggestions and defences in the comments please!

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19 thoughts on “Most overrated books

  1. Bex 19 September 2012 at 5:15 pm Reply

    The Da Vinci Code. I want the hours back I spent reading that pile of awful. I also refuse to read 50 Shades of Grey & roll my eyes and make vomit noises whenever I see it in shops. Because I’m mature.

  2. misha1989 19 September 2012 at 5:25 pm Reply

    The Fountainhead & Atlas Shrugged
    All Dan Brown books – same with Sidney Sheldon and Jeffrey Archer
    As for Twilight – UGH!

  3. sakura 19 September 2012 at 5:29 pm Reply

    The Catcher in the Rye. Although my friends all raved about it, I just never got it.

  4. Leeswammes 19 September 2012 at 6:30 pm Reply

    Ok, ok. I’m happy to accept that you didn’t like Eat, Pray, Love in your previous post after trying some of it, but you can not, can not, say that Twilight and 50 Shades are overrated without having read (even a bit) of them. Sorry, that doesn’t work!

    I’m not sure they are overrated in the sense that I don’t know that they are really all that highly rated. They are very popular, if that is what you mean. Literarily, they are not good, not at all, and I don’t think anyone is saying that.

    I read both these books. I loved Twilight (I read it before the hype, actually) and I didn’t mind 50 Shades (but it isn’t anywhere near my favorite book for this year). Anyway, how can you make a claim about a book without reading it? It beats me. 🙂

    • readingwithtea 19 September 2012 at 8:01 pm Reply

      I like being irrational sometimes! (The Physicist would say that I’m always irrational)
      I’ve seen enough about Twilight to feel like I’ve read it; my objection to both of them is the concept. Both of them (admittedly from reputation rather than from reading them) are extremely popular with women but I’m not sure they say anything very positive about women.

      But yes, it is unjustified, unjustifiable and very snobby of me to judge Twilight and 50SOG without having read them!

  5. Abby 19 September 2012 at 7:09 pm Reply

    Delighted to find someone else who found “The God of Small Things” overrated. It was SO overwrought and unnecessarily flowery; I couldn’t make it past the first 15 pages. One of the few books I’ve started and then not finished, mainly because it was clear I had much, much better things to read.

  6. JoV 19 September 2012 at 8:22 pm Reply

    The Great Gatsby to me is soooo… overrated! it was meh for me. I am not sure what is so fantastic about it.

    • readingwithtea 19 September 2012 at 8:36 pm Reply

      I kept waiting for it to get better! But it didn’t.

  7. Chinoiseries 19 September 2012 at 9:00 pm Reply

    Right, this is the second Camus book today (the first being The Plague) that didn’t get a positive mention. I haven’t yet read Kundera, but now I’m not so sure whether I want to 😉 Aww, I liked The God of Small Things 😦 If I look back at stuff that I had to read for school, I’d vote out many of the very depressing Dutch books on WWII.

    • readingwithtea 20 September 2012 at 2:07 pm Reply

      The Book Accumulator is positive about The Plague – when we go to France soon we are going to go and visit a place that has something to do with it (I wasn’t really listening when he was explaining). So it might not all be bad.

  8. Stephanie @ Read in a Single Sitting 20 September 2012 at 12:36 am Reply

    What, The Outsider? Noo! The first line is meant to be uninvested…isn’t that the whole point of the book?

    I didn’t mind The God of Small Things, but I did hate the squishword approach 🙂

    • readingwithtea 20 September 2012 at 2:07 pm Reply

      I know it’s the point of the book but *grrrrr* I just wanted to shake the guy!

  9. Jo @ Booklover Book Reviews 20 September 2012 at 1:36 am Reply

    I did not like The God of Small Things… I finished it because I was waiting for that ‘aha’ moment that never arrived. I found the content a little perverse at times for my tastes also.

    • readingwithtea 20 September 2012 at 2:08 pm Reply

      It was the last in a series of books involving superfluous child abuse (all child abuse is obviously unnecessary; I mean it didn’t add anything at all to narrative structure or character development) that I seemed to read all at once. Sadly, it’s a rather predictable plot development.

  10. Jo 20 September 2012 at 6:19 am Reply

    The Great Gatsby would get my vote – having had to read it at school

  11. mareelouise 21 September 2012 at 3:48 am Reply

    I have a similar policy regarding Twighlight and 50 Shades- love it. And I don’t care how often people tell me I have to read it to know what I’m talking about!
    Agree on God of Small Things. I love books about India usually- there is something about that country and its people and its writers that enthralls me- but that one was definitely a dud!

    • readingwithtea 21 September 2012 at 7:40 am Reply

      It’s one of very few books I’ve read about India, so at the moment I have a poor sample. Looking to expand it though.

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