May 28, 2009

BTT: Unread

Question: Is there a book that you wish you could “unread”? One that you disliked so thoroughly you wish you could just forget that you ever read it?

There have been plenty of books that I did not like or couldn't even finish, but I don't know that there have ever been books that were so horrible I wish I could "unread" them. There are plenty of books I would give only one star to, though. But these same books, to someone else, could be five star books. There is not a book ever written that absolutely everyone would agree was so bad they wish they could "unread" it. Maybe I am having trouble with this terminology, I don't know.

I guess I can share with you some books that I did not enjoy reading. There is a difference between really disliking a book and not being able to get into it at the time and putting away for later (I have those too). If I put away a book for later (such as Atonement, Daughter of Fortune) that means I think I will be able to like it at another time. These are books that I didn't like and probably never will. But, as I have said before and I will say again, there is not a book so bad that I can't find anything positive in it.

Books I Gave One Star To On My Site:
-Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert

Books I Would Have Given One Star To (if I'd had this site when I read them):
-The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
-Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella
-Chloe Does Yale by Natalie Krinsky

What about you? Is there a book so bad you wish you could unread it???

View other people's answers here.


  1. Great answer! And I agree with you that any book we don't like might be another reader's favourite!

  2. Thanks for visiting my blog! Like you and Melody I don't think I would ever want to unread a book, how would we know what we like or dislike if we did that. Happy BTT!

  3. I have one that I really dislike….maybe other people like this I don't mean to offend for me I hate it and made me question all Peter Straub’s books

  4. I did have to think about this one. There have been plenty of books that haven't appealed to me, but I wouldn't necessarily want to "unread" them.

    With the book I chose, it was one that I had to read for a uni course. Maybe if I had read it some other time it would have been okay and I can see that the book has its merits and could be enjoyed/appreciated by others, but for me I wish I didn't still have it lingering in my memory banks.

  5. Wow that is a really hard question but you have answered it really well! There are books I have disliked or found difficult to get into but sometimes if I reread the book a few years later I find I love it. Wuthering Heights is a perfect example, the first time I tried to read it I hated it but a few years later I tried again and really loved it! So that's why I made it a rule to never give up on books completely.

  6. I had no trouble finding a book for this one. The Gun Runner's Daughter was one such offender. I was actually shocked anyone would mooch it from it, it was that bad. Of course, they, like me, thought the description sounded like a good book. I wonder if they've read the book yet, and what they thought of it.

    I agree with you that Atonement was one of those books that was hard to get into. And one star for Confessions? I'm getting ready to read that, now Ima scared :-o . At least it's short.

  7. I have a lot of one star books too. Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie first comes to my mind. As you said, it could be a 5 star to someone else.

  8. No matter how terrible a book, I can always seem to find a positive note about it somewhere, but if I am really not enjoying it, I won't finish it. Life's to short!

  9. I've had books I didn't particularly like and even a couple I didn't finish (which is rare for me), but none that I wanted to unread.

  10. I liked The Scarlet Letter. In fact I felt it still is relevant in certain part of the world.

    Booking through Unread

  11. I usually stop reading a book after 100 pages if I don't like it. But there have been some exceptions -- In the Woods by Tana French (hated the ending) and Souvenir by Therese Fowler (had to read for book club).

  12. I really liked Scarlet Letter. We can have different tastes/reactions, though! There weren't any books I could think of that I really wish I could unread.

  13. This is a difficult question. Like you, I can find something worthwhile about just about every book I have read--the fact that I finished the book at all speaks to that. I do not finish the books that I feel are wasting my time.

  14. I haven't encountered something that is irredeemably bad. Books that I want to "unread" are ones written by authors whose previous reads I have enjoyed. Sometimes they just have a bad day I guess. I would like to defy time and start over again with another book.

    By the way, I would think the shopaholic book would be fun to read, if I ever have time other than all the books in my TBR pile! :)

  15. I think if this question had been asked of me when I was still in middle school, and even high school, I would have had a long list of books I wished I could "unread." That was when I thought I was duty-bound to finish a book even when I didn't like it. These days, that's not the case at all. Like you said, if there's a book I'd wish I could unread, I probably wouldn't have read it in the first place.

    Now, books I wish I hadn't paid good money for is a different story. :)

  16. I'd "unread" The Magus in a heartbeat.

  17. Melody- Great minds think alike!

    Dot- Exactly! Thanks for visiting my blog, too!

    Novroz- I haven't even heard of him. I will have to check him out. Thanks for visiting and commenting!

    Susan- I think we all have different reactions to books and if something has been bothering you about that book, I am sure it was justified.

    librarynook- That is a good rule. There are several books I haven't given up on but set aside for later. They seem more like I can't get into them now but might one day. But these particular ones I did not see a lot of use in putting them aside.

    koolaidmom- Your review on that book was so funny. Now for me Confessions did not work simply because I could not relate with the character whatsoever. I have no love of shopping (unless it is for books) and she seemed one-dimensional to me. I know the prior roommate of mine that lent it to me loved the series, so to each his own. Don't take my word for it alone by any means!

    violetcrush- I haven't read that one. But yes it is all a matter of preferences and sometimes your frame of mind at the time. Plus everyone has a diff experience reading the same book. It comes down to previous experiences and philosophies sometimes too. Thanks for your comment.

    socialfrog- Me too! I have a DNF I need to review. I am trying to figure out how to word it. It did not work for me, but if someone thinks it good enough to write, someone somewhere will probably think it good enough to read, even if I didn't.

    Yvonne- Yes, unread is a strong word for me. Even the books I listed I learned something from.

    Gautami- Thanks for your comment. Great point. What I did not care for in The Scarlet Letter was mostly the writing style of Hawthorne (I haven't cared for anything of his I've read). I also thought it was slow paced and that is something I have a very hard time with. I actually had to read it in high school and tried again another time later, but still did not like it. I watched the movie, though, and did like it. I think you are absolutely right about it being relevant in some parts of the world today. And you can even find parallels of the Scarlet A in America today in other issues, such as Abortion or Gay Marriage. Sometimes it seems they have been branded with a big scarlet letter.

  18. Jess- You will go further than I have before in books. I haven't read either of the books you mentioned, but like in Stumbling on Happiness, that I mentioned above, I gave it half the book before I just knew it was a waste of my time and I wouldn't like it any more if I kept reading it. But I have stopped at page 20 before, honestly. If you've said nothing interesting in 20 pages, you will say nothing interesting in the book. But that has only happened twice to me.

    Wordlily- A lot of people do like Scarlet Letter. And I think that's great! Great discussions can come from differing viewpoints. I love to have discussions like that (just ask me about politics some time ;).) Some people don't like books that are my favorite books I have ever read (Eat Pray Love and Life of Pi come to mind). But you'd be hard pressed to find a book I'd wish I'd never opened. Like Dot said above, if nothing else, you know what you don't like, too!

    Lit Feline- I finished all of the ones I listed by Stumbling. But there are several in my DNF. Life's too short and there are too many books to love to waste time reading ones that you can't connect with!

    Mattviews- I can't think of a time off the top of my head that I read another book by an author I loved and did not care for it, although there could very well be. My memory's not that good. :) As I said in a comment above, Confessions is loved by many people and it is def a light read. I just couldn't relate to the main character.

    J.S.- That's a good point you bring up. Of course, I first read Scarlet Letter in h.s. and it is still on my list of one stars, lol. But I think as we grow older and mature, we have a new appreciation for less-than-blissful experiences. A book you don't like can still teach you something, you still gain knowledge or experience from it. Now, I know there are a few that I wish I had waited and bought used. I will have to think about that one. It certainly has led to a fierce love of used book stores, lol.

    Rose City- I know that The Magus led to more interest in psychoanalysis, right? I haven't read it, but would love to hear your thoughts on why you'd like to unread it.

  19. Ah, poor old Scarlet Letter. I can't read it without seeing my sons' pained faces - I think their English classes spoiled it for me.

  20. I didn't answer this week's BTT for the same reason you stated in your post--there's really no book I wish I could unread. There are plenty of books I've disliked or didn't finish though.

    Why did you hate The Scarlet Letter? I remember reading that book in school--it wasn't the best book ever, but I thought it was okay.

  21. Sheila Deeth- Hey that's where I first read it, too!

    heidenkind- I didn't hate any of these books, but I did not enjoy reading them. Like I said in my above comments, I don't care much for Hawthorne's writing style and the book was slow paced for me. But everyone reacts to books in different ways and that makes life interesting!

  22. (argh, Google Reader is such a pain this week!)

    I know so many people who were disappointed by Stumbling on Happiness (didn't read it myself). As for Atonement, I read it after I had watched the movie (meant to do the reverse but didn't have time) and I think that the visuals helped when I read the book (fun movie fact: the scenes at the country house were shot with a Dior silk stocking over the lens to create the "fuzzy" look of the early part of the film compared to the sharp, WWII scenes; talk about low-tech!)

  23. Melissa- Thanks for the tip about Atonement! I will give that a try. And very cool info about the cinematography!


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