Where I recommend books everyone hates…

orangutan list

Okay, hate is a strong word. And, I guess it’s fair to say that not everyone hates these books. Nonetheless, these are the books that I see getting *a lot* of bad reviews and have lower ratings than I’d expect… which unfortunately can really effect whether some people (*coughs* me included *cough cough*) pick it up or not. Now obviously what’s considered a low rating is pretty subjective- so I just used the magic of GR to organise my books by ratings and picked the ones where there was the biggest discrepancy.

facing the light

Facing the Lightrating 3.49– this one has the biggest difference between my rating and the general consensus. I like to think that the main reason for that might be because it’s not all that well known and the limited number of ratings are skewed because of that. Either way, I genuinely thought this was an intriguing and captivating book that deserves more attention.

broken things

Broken Thingsrating 3.6– I often consider Lauren Oliver underrated famous author- because she always has great sales, but mixed reviews. Anyway, you might remember my fairly recent review where I talked about how completely brilliant I found it.

hazel wood

Hazel Woodrating 3.62- while this isn’t the lowest rating on the list, I do unfortunately see a lot of negative reviews for this, particularly saying that it “wasn’t worth the hype”. Now that hurts my soul a little cos I genuinely loved. Here’s the thing, I get why this is hit or miss for people. The writing style and pacing aren’t going to be for everyone- BUT I highly recommend giving it a go, because it’s atmospheric, beautiful and deeply rooted in the fairy tale tradition. For its cleverness alone, I think this book deserves to be read.

horrorstor

Horrorstorrating 3.61– this is another one where I understand the hit or miss reviews- annnd totally disagree with them. Say what you want about the abrupt ending, it makes a certain amount of sense to leave a ghost story a little unresolved. Also, this completely delivered on what promised: it was funny, innovative and suuuuuper creepy.

how i live now

How I Live Nowrating 3.58-okay this is the one on the list that I really get why it’s not so well loved. It’s got some deeply shady stuff going on… but for some reason it worked for me. Sure, it’s strange; yes, it’s a little mad- however for book set at the end of the world that makes a lot of sense. Plus, beyond its dodgy post-apocalyptic aura, it’s a story of characters I really came to care for and is an exceptionally moving story. Fair warning, it’s not going to be for everyone- and yet I recommend it anyway.

And now, because Classics don’t always get a fair rep on social media sites/blogs, I’m gonna include some books that get a fair amount of hate, but you should read anyway:

heart of darkness

Heart of darknessrating 3.42– this is by far the lowest ratings I’ve seen for something I’ve given 5 bananas… and I get that. It’s a peculiar book, with somewhat obscure writing and some questionable content. However, once you dig a little deeper and find that kernel of meaning at its centre, you’re sure to have a rewarding reading experience.

turn of the screw 2

Turn of the Screwrating 3.44– I have absolutely no idea why that rating is so low. And I’m stumped by the reviews, cos there doesn’t seem to be a general consensus of why people don’t like it (just lots of reasons I’d put down to personal taste, like writing style, content, etc). So I’ll just say why I do like it. Turn of the Screw is one of my favourite classics because it has one of the best unreliable narrators ever written and the answered of mystery over what the actual eff happened. For me, the unending questions surrounding this book, coupled with elegant prose, makes it a slice of perfection.

canterbury tales

The Canterbury Talesrating 3.49– this is another one that makes me go *ouch* when I look at the rating. Look, I get that it’s hard to read for modern audiences- but to look at it on that level alone will mean you’re missing out on some of the best characterisation in literature!! And some really complex stories! Also, a useful tip if you are struggling with this is to read it aloud.

crucible

The Cruciblerating 3.56– okay, I get that Arthur Miller can be a little on the nose with his messaging. And I’ve been told plenty of times even by fans of Miller that this isn’t his best work- and yet I still recommend it for the tension and drama it produces.

catcher in the rye

Catcher in the Ryerating 3.8– alright, I’m breaking my rules of going based on ratings here, cos it’s fairly high. The reason I’ve included Catcher in the Rye is the sheer amount of hate I see for this book around and how every time I mention it, people say that they don’t. And that’s absolutely fine- I even understand why people hate the protagonist and aren’t crazy about the plot (or lack thereof). HOWEVER no matter the hate towards this book, I think there are things we can all recognise are done well. Salinger’s classic is one of the smartest reflections on teenagehood and an exceptional example of creating a character through voice. Like it or loathe it, Catcher in the Rye can teach you a lot about writing and reading between the lines of an unreliable narrator.

Alrighty then- do you agree or disagree with any of my choices? Do you love any unpopular books? Let me know in the comments!

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96 thoughts on “Where I recommend books everyone hates…

  1. daleydowning says:

    There are a lot of books that I liked that other people were really meh about…and vice versa. It definitely shows that taste is very subjective, and when it comes to something like literature, variety is the spice of life!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Book Admirer says:

    I read the Canterbury Tales when I was in high school for fun and I absolutely loved it. I thought it was funny and the stories had some great themes. So I too take issue with people that “hate” it. Yet, I hated Catcher in the Rye when I had to read it in high school. I’m planning to give it another go in the near future. I think I just didn’t grasp the meaning at so young in life. I really want to read Hazel Wood just to see what the hype – good and bad- is about.

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      I love it too and I really agree with you. I can understand people struggling to understand it- I definitely struggled with it at first- but that’s a reason to maybe take a break from it- not assume that it’s bad. I can understand why people don’t like Catcher in the Rye, but I still think it’s a quality piece of literature regardless. Awesome! I really hope you’re in the like camp 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. bookbeachbunny says:

    Horrorstor was one of my favorites! The Hazel Wood did have great atmosphere and I loved those fairy tales though one of my favorite things about the book. However Heart of Darkness is one that still makes me run screaming!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jenn @ the Bibliofile says:

    The Hazel Wood sounds exactly like the type of book I’d like, but I’ve written it off repeatedly because each time I’m tempted I see a slew of negative reviews. But now I’m thinking I might give it a shot anyway.

    Heart of Darkness is a book I think benefits a lot from supplemental material/discussion-type setting or even a classroom setting. I think people think it’s short so it’ll be fast and breezy and that’s….not really the right mindset for this book.

    Love Catcher. VERY curious about Horrorstor. This was a fun list to mull over — great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      I definitely think it’s worth giving it a shot!! Especially if it sounds like something you’d like 🙂

      That’s very fair. Haha I’d definitely not describe it as light and breezy! like you said, it’s short, but it’s also one of the most intense books I’ve ever read.

      Ah I’m glad to hear it! Awesome!! 😀 Thank you!!

      Like

  5. Aurora Librialis says:

    This is such an interesting post! I often love books that have fairly low ratings on Goodreads. I adore Joseph Conrad’s writing style, but I do see why some people don’t. I do prefer his short stories though (Especially Gaspar Ruiz) And though I had some mixed feelings about The Hazel Wood, I loved the atmosphere. I feel like the most common problem people had with it is that the MC isn’t likable, but I actually loved that and it felt like an important, intentional part of the story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      Thank you!! I totally relate to that. Me too. That’s really interesting- I still need to check that out! And that’s very fair. I can understand people not liking the mc- that can affect my enjoyment of a book too (I did personally like her, but understand why people didn’t). And I definitely agree that it felt intentional for sure. Thanks for your comment!

      Like

  6. Margaret @ Weird Zeal says:

    Ooh this has gotten me so curious about which books I’ve read that people don’t like! I find it so interesting that The Hazel Wood has such a low rating, considering how much buzz it was getting this year 🤔 I guess I’ll have to read it and find out what I think!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. alilovesbooks says:

    I’ve only really read The Hazel Wood and Broken Things but while I wouldn’t say I hated them I can’t really say I loved them. Both had their moments but there was something missing for me.

    I do sometimes wonder though if negative reviews are self perpetuating. You see a book has lots of negative reviews and start looking for faults you probably would have overlooked.

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      I think that’s fair- I do understand why they’re hit or miss (or indeed something in between).

      But yeah, I do really see that. I definitely see trends in people either loving or hating something, so I think there’s a certain sense of opinions “catching”. Great point!

      Like

  8. Ola G says:

    The Heart of Darkness is a wonder, I’m there with you, for me it’s 10/10, and an amazing reading experience. I also appreciate Salinger’s classic, it’s a very good, very realistic book, but if one’s used to an action-packed plot, this book doesn’t have it 😉 I’d add Faulkner to your list: Absalom, Absalom is one of my classic favorites of all time :), and Llosa’s The City and the Dogs (my favorite of his, Conversation in the Cathedral is actually quite highly rated ;)).

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Eustacia | Eustea Reads says:

    I really enjoyed The Hazel Wood! But I am a sucker for dark fairytales and I really liked the retold tales in the book.

    The Turn of the Screw was also pretty spooky – I don’t get the low rating for that one either :p

    Horrorstor sounds interesting – I’ll have to check it out!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Nicola @ Thoughts on Fantasy says:

    I’m surprised How I Live Now is poorly rated – I really enjoyed that book and a friend of mine lists it as an all-time favourite! I’m not so surprised about Heart of Darkness though – maybe I was too young when I read it but it didn’t leave behind any positive memories 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      Yeah I agree with you- everyone I personally know that’s read it loved it. But I do get why people had trouble with it cos it’s got some tough subjects. I can understand that- I honestly found it tough to get through the first time, but once I got past that, I realised how brilliant it is underneath. Personally I see it as one of those books that’s worth giving another go 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Jia Xuan says:

    I haven’t read any of the books here (which serves only to remind me the sheer amount of books in the world)! I’ve been wanting to read The Canterbury Tales though, so I might get down to it and decide what I think of it. Interesting post! I’m not sure which books with low ratings that I like, but my average rating on Goodreads is 3.51 so I guess I need to find more books I like!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Nicole says:

    The horror, the horror! 😀 I remember loving Heart of Darkness, and will be re-reading it soon (I hope) to see if that has held up. Same with Canterbury Tales. Though I can see where — since those are usually school required reading — a lot of someone’s enjoyment of them could depend on the teacher and class. I had good English teachers in school, but someone with a different experience might end up disliking school assigned books that I loved.

    I want to read The Hazel Wood soon, too. It sounds like it would be right up my alley.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. klkranesya says:

    Heart of Darkness? Turn of the Screw?? No. Those books are great! I don’t care what goodreads says! And I love Heart of Darkness so much. It’s incredible. Plus, without it we’d never have the iconic and often abused movie line “I love the smell of napalm in the morning” from that crazy movie Apocalypse Now, which was heavily inspired by HoD (as I’m sure you are already aware.) 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      I know right!! I was so shocked to see those getting low ratings- especially Turn of the Screw, cos, why?! hehehe so true!! (and yes, I was- though shamefully I’ve not seen it, but been curious about it ever since I heard that)

      Like

  14. Beth (Reading Every Night) says:

    I haven’t read many of the books on this list but the two I have I agree are actually books I’ve recommended to a fair few people. The Hazel Wood was kind of a disappointment to me (I wish the story had gotten to the Hinterlands sooner than it did) but I still thought it was a well written and enjoyable read, and actually Broken Things is my favourite by Lauren Oliver to date. I’m surprised that one has such a low overall rating.
    Great post, and I’m sure these are all great recommendations too. 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Ayunda says:

    I still don’t really understand why people love to hate The Catcher in the Rye so much! I quite liked it, and I understand why some would think the narrator was annoying but the writing was pretty good. Great list!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. lucindablogs says:

    I really want to read The Hazel Wood and Horrorstor regardless of the reviews. I mean, I’ve just read Home Fire and despite it winning multiple awards and literally everyone loving it I really didn’t get on with it.

    I really don’t understand how people can hate The Catcher in the Rye though. What is there to hate? Ok so the plot meanders about but isn’t that kind of the point?

    Anyway, great post – really interesting to see where your opinions have differed from the norm! 💙

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Amanda @Cover2CoverMom says:

    Totally agree with The Crucible! It was one of my favorite books that I was required to read in high school!

    Very interesting that you listed The Hazel Wood on this! I’ve only heard negative things about it… I had all but written it off by this point. I am not one to shy away from slower paced atmospheric books. Maybe I’ll give it a try over the winter.

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      Ah so glad you agree!!

      Oh yeah I’ve seen a lot of people writing it off for that reason- which is a shame, cos even if it’s a book not everyone will like, I think a lot of people will end up loving it like I did if they give it a chance- especially people who like slower, atmospheric books! Awesome!

      Like

  18. Evelina @ AvalinahsBooks says:

    I haven’t read Turn of the Screw yet, but I’m planning to. Perhaps the book just gave people a sort of.. I don’t know, goosebumps feeling that makes them uneasy about it? And yeah, a lot of people hate on Catcher in the Rye, but I think that’s because they read it at the wrong time. It really is meant to read when you are 15 and grossly misunderstood xD it is pretentious, but so what? That’s how we feel when we are 15. At least I remember being able to relate to that book sooooooo much.
    Loved the post 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  19. curious•pondering says:

    I am glad to see Heart of Darkness on your list! It is a favorite of mine, but nobody gives it the time of day! Also, I want to read The Hazel Wood. I saw it at BAM a few days ago for five dollars, but didn’t snatch it. Regrets!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Gayathri Lakshminarayanan says:

    I have given Catcher in the rye too many chances to count anymore. Like you said, lack of plot has definitely putting me off. Great list, I definitely have to try some of them.

    Like

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