5 Books I Loved, 5 Books I Hated, and 5 I Never Finished

Some books stick with you. Some were a struggle. Some you never finish. Here are mine.

5 Books I Loved

The Phantom Tollbooth: To this day, this book keeps me grounded.

The Poisonwood Bible: How did she come up with all those palindromes?

Moby Dick: This book is hilarious. And partly a musical. And it says a lot about the way we live now.

His Dark Materials Trilogy: Way better than Harry Potter or The Hunger Games, which means they’re really, really good.

Persuasion: You can always fall in love again! Also that scene when she’s all tired and he helps her into the carriage: yowza! Jane Austen sure could write very proper sexual tension.

5 Books I Hated

Jane Eyre: Some people love this book, and that’s okay. I hated it.

Tristram Shandy: The movie version they made recently is actually pretty good, and I don’t think I’d have appreciated it as much if I hadn’t read (and hated) this book.

Yellow Raft in Blue Water: This book is terrible. I had to read it for high-school English.

The Bean Trees: Goes to show, you can love and hate the same author (in this case, Barbara Kingsolver, who also wrote The Poisonwood Bible).

Their Eyes Were Watching God: It’s not that I loathe this book, I just hate how it gets trotted out in every English class you’ll ever take in college because it covers dialect, a female author and a person of color all in one book! That definitely makes up for all the dead, white guys you have to read!

5 Books I Never Finished

The Sparrow: I just got bored. I really need to Google how it ends.

Midnight’s Children: I liked this book until I read something about it that compared it to Tristram Shandy.

Wolf Hall: I want to finish this book because I love reading about this period in history (Henry VIII, Thomas More, Cromwell), but I just can’t get through it.

Middlemarch: This is a great book to fall asleep to. I’ll never finish it.

Twilight: Couldn’t get past the first 50 pages. I don’t think I missed much.

By [E] Sally Lawton

My food groups are cheese, bacon, and hot tea. I like studying cities and playing with my cat, Buffy.

56 replies on “5 Books I Loved, 5 Books I Hated, and 5 I Never Finished”

I have never hated a book like I hated Winesburg, Ohio. Sad stories. Nothing but really fucking sad stories. Nice things never happen to anyone. Ever. No one understands anyone. We all die alone.

Four other books that I hate: The Portrait of a Lady (Woman makes an independent choice; it all ends in tears). The Awakening (see previous), The Count of Monte Cristo (Quite fun until you get to the end. The movies change the ending for a damn good reason), and 1984 (does this book actually have a plot? or is it just setting?)

On a more positive note I highly recommend Catch-22, Northanger Abby (Jane Austin being unrepentantly silly), Good Omens (the end of the world as only Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman could write it), I, Robot (the book is so unlike the movie it’s not even funny), and Sabriel (actually all the books in the trilogy and the novella)

There aren’t a lot of unfinished books that I can think of off the top of my head but the notables are The Last Battle (I will never finish the Narnia books, and I am ok with that), and The Three Musketeers (D’Artagnan is painfully stupid, like I cannot even read about your stupid without feeling contact embarrassment stupid)

I’ve never started a book without finishing it. It’s would haunt me, even if I hated the book.

My head scratcher is Wuthering Heights.  I don’t hate it, but whenever someone tell ms it’s their Favorite. Book. Ever!  I wonder about them.  Really?  Mental illness, stalking, abuse and you love it?  Okay…….



You made it 45 more pages into Twilight than I could. I find it hard to believe Stephanie Meyer has an English degree.

In high school I had to read something by Hemingway that I hated. I don’t even remember the title, only that I didn’t like his writting style.

Oh ugh, Tess of the D’Urbervilles. Assigned for first year English. Hated it. Wanted to shake her. Had to write a paper about if she was a heroine, and I wrote passionately about how I loathed her so much that she couldn’t possibly be. And then in the SAME year, to be assigned the wonderful and strange Edible Woman (Margaret Atwood).

It took be a long, long time to finish Wolf Hall. Partly because they ALL have multiple names: first name, last name, position, or title. And I SWEAR TO GOD half of them were named Thomas. All except the king naturally. And Poisonwood Bible was a solid Meh from me. I don’t remember a THING about it.

But I thrust Captain Correlli’s Mandolin at lots of people. And my very favourite of all time: All My Friends are Superheroes. And…. anything by David Mitchell. And the prose of Alice Munro just slays me. Damn that woman is amazing.

All this talk of books – off to bed I go to read 1Q84.

Books that I loved: 1. Cry the Beloved Country, 2. Pride and Prejudice, 3. Harry Potter #3, 4. Exodus, 5. Huckleberry Finn

Books that I hated: 1. The Old Man and the Sea, 2. Red Badge of Courage, 3. The Catcher in the Rye (I seem to be the only person in the world to hate this book… I seriously wanted to yell at Holden the entire time and tell him to grow the fuck up), 4. Frankenstein, 5. Harry Potter # 5 (almost quit the series after reading it!)

Books I couldn’t finish: 1. Tess of the D’ubervilles, 2. Mutiny on the Bounty, 3. The Lost Symbol (Dan Brown)… That’s all I can think of at this point, I usually make myself finish things even if I hate it!


For real?  When we read it in high school I was the only one that absolutely hated it.  I did like the flow of the writing and it was definitely enjoyable in that sense, but I couldn’t get past how much I hated Holden to ever consider this a favorite.  I guess I wasn’t “angsty” enough at that age in comparison to my classmates

I liked Holden, but he was a little shit. His weirded out aimless wandering made sense to me though, because it was a more dramatic version of what I do when I’m freaked out.

Not liking the characters is why I don’t like Wuthering Heights, so I understand the feeling.

Lol, that was an optional read for me my senior year of high school in A.P. English.  I think I made it through 2-3 chapters before I said fuck it.  I usually don’t mind books with accents (re: Huck Finn is a fav!), but seriously, the accent in that book was unbearable/unreadable…

I’d actually love to hear why you love The Poisonwood Bible and why you disliked The Bean Trees.  I love them both and have never DISLIKED anything by Barbara Kingsolver (although there are a couple I haven’t read and a few I liked less), but the Bean Trees is probably my favorite of her books.


I think part of why I disliked The Bean Trees was because I didn’t like the teacher who taught it. I also found it a little saccharine? But funny. It was really fucking funny. Jesus Is Lord Used Tires can still make me chuckle.

I think The Poisonwood Bible stuck with me because I grew up with a very religious father and a mom who just wanted to talk away from it, so I could appreciate it. I think it’s her best book.

All that said, Kingsolver is one of the greatest American authors ever. She definitely belongs in the cannon and I think she’s a better writer than Jonathan Franzen.

There. I said it. It feels so good to get that off my chest!

ha! After completing my papers/assignments for this last semester I totally needed an antidote and pulled my very well-worn copy of The Phantom Tollbooth from my shelves. It was absolutely perfect. Then my SO said “Oh, I never read that”. I was aghast.

For as much as I’ve read, I’m still woefully under-read. The only book on your lists that I’ve read is The Bean Trees, and I remember liking it, but I was also 14 when I read it. I’ve liked other books by Barbara Kingsolver, but I haven’t read The Poisonwood Bible yet.

I should look up if I read Jane Eyre (..yes, I know. I just read too much, okay?), but along those lines ..Wuthering Heights set my teeth on edge. I hated pretty much everyone in that book. And people are still staring at me when I tell them because “don’t you love books?” Urm, I love stories, not the paper that holds them. Okay paper is a big deal and I’m straying from the subject now.

I was gonna say…I really do hate most of the characters in Wuthering Heights, but I still find it amazing and gripping after four or five reads.  If I thought I was supposed to like the characters, that might be more off-putting, but I feel confident that they’re written to be despicable.

I think Jane Eyre irritated me so much because of Mr. Rochester, really, and how some people for some reason think he’s sexy. And Jane really should have never gone back.

Wuthering Heights was just dramatic and didn’t pretend to be anything but, and I am okay with that.

And without *that*, we wouldn’t have the hilarious parody of it playing on a former Irish prime minister’s long-standing affair with a journalist. Which I cannot find on youtube for the life of me, sadly, but still: cultural mashup gold.

Former (married) Taoiseach Charles Haughey’s affair with (married) Irish Independent journalist Terry Keane was one of the worst-kept secrets in Ireland the 1980’s and 1990’s. The radio comedy show Scrap Saturday (which involved a lot of the same people as Father Ted, like Dermot Morgan and Pauline McLynn) did a version of Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights with Terry Keane as a vampire trying to get into Haughey’s house. I really wish I could find it online somewhere!

The Poisonwood Bible is one my list to buy after a friend gave it such a good review. Now it’s been seconded so it’s a must I guess! I would agree with the above about The Sparrow which I liked a lot but it took me a month before I really got into it. Funny that you mention Midnight’s Children because I’ve been stuck on it for a while (1 Year +). It’s so verbose! I’ve been meaning to pick it up and try again though. My boyfriend and I have been reading The Chronicles of Narnia out loud to each other for a couple years now and we’ve finally made it to the last book. I had never read all of them and I would definitely have read them faster independently but it’s been fun reading them out loud in bed. Any suggestions about what to read out loud when we finish?

Diana Wynne Jones!!!!

Ahem. Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones. It’s so fun. I can’t find any full quotes but one of my favourite descriptions of her recurring character Chrestomanci is something like “and then he swept out of the room, like a very long procession of one person.”

Seconded. The weirdest thing about Diana Wynne Jones books is that their descriptive blurbs make them sound either horrible or blah, but all of them are grab you by the face wonderful. The Chrestomanci series is easy to find, as well as Howl’s Moving Castle and its sequels.

Exactly! If all you did was read the blurbs, it’s all “blah blah magic blah children blah alternate worlds” but they transcend the blurbs so much. The Dalemark Quartet is just astounding. And Hexwood. And The Merlin Conspiracy. ACK!

E.g.: when Howl has a cold – this is so fun to read aloud:

“Meanwhile a certain amount of moaning and groaning was coming from upstairs. Sophie kept muttering to the dog and ignored it. A loud, hollow coughing followed, dying away into more moaning. Crashing sneezes followed the coughing, each one rattling the window and all the doors. Sophie found those harder to ignore, but she managed. Poot-pooooot! went a blown nose, a bassoon in a tunnel. The coughing started again, mingled with moans. Sneezes mixed with the moans and the coughs, and the sounds rose to a crescendo in which Howl seemed to be managing to cough, groan, blow his nose, sneeze, and wail gently all at the same time.”

Ooo yes, I love them. Love Ella and Querida. The first one I read was Charmed Life (the first Chrestomanci book written, but not the first chronologically) but my favourite is probably Hexwood. Probably. I’d have to read them all again to be sure.

I really liked The Sparrow. It did start out really slow, I think the plot takes over 100 pages to show up. But after that I couldn’t put it down.

Meanwhile His Dark Materials is a slog for me. I like the first book a lot, and I’ve started to just treat it as a stand alone in my mind. I find the second one boring – more of a bridge between two books than a book in its own right – and the third one is just so much philosophy. Even though I agree with it, it gets a bit dry for lack of counter argument. Plus I can never quite buy the relationship between Lyra and Will.

Different strokes, I suppose

It definitely gets deeper in books 2 and 3. I mean, it’s Milton. For children. I think that’s why I do like them better than some other YA fiction because Pullman never panders to the reader and assumes you can deal with deeper philosophical questions of what death means and does. Harry Potter is great and definitely has its dark moments, but ultimately magic will save the day; HDM never really does that. Hunger Games is a bit more like HDM in that respect — you can’t really save the world in her world and everyone just ends up with PTSD, but it’s not nearly as well written and I never found the construction of the world as solid as I did in HDM.

Ah now, they knew each other for a bit longer than three days! There’s a good bit of ambiguity about whether they had sex or not – I don’t think so, but I haven’t heard that Philip Pullman has said one way or another. And it wasn’t their love that ultimately saved the worlds: it was their decision to close the windows, plus the destruction of Metatron and the Authority, only one of which they were responsible for.

I heard an interview with Pullman in which he said that one of the reasons he wanted sex to be a part of the book is that he was sick of girls having sex in books and being punished for it. He wanted to write a book about a girl discovering sex and it not leading to the end of the world.

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