Recommending Books I Didn’t Like

orangutan list

Well, I’ve been a bit negative lately, so I thought it would be a good idea to try and turn things around. I was completely inspired by an amazing video by Elliot Brooks over on booktube to start recommending books I don’t like. And since I always say that other people might like books I give 2 bananas, I thought it was time for me to put my bananas where my mouth is and recommend some books I don’t like… or something that sounds less like I’m just stuffing my face 😉 And I’m gonna try to do it all while standing on one leg not insulting any of these books. Wish me luck!


Love in a Time of Cholera– an exquisitely written book with distinct characters- I just didn’t like it because I hate stream of consciousness- but if that’s your jam, I’m sure you’ll love it!

mrs dalloway

Mrs Dalloway– similarly, no one can dispute that Woolf was an incredible writer (her twists on imagery is second to none), but I just can’t stand stream of consciousness.

sun also rises

The Sun Also Rises– again, I’ve made no secret of the fact I’m not a fan of pared-down writing. In fact, I’ve spoken at length about how I think there’s a Fitzgerald-Hemmingway divide– people tend to like one or the other! So if you’re not a fan of Fitzgerald, chances are you’ll love this. Plus, even I, with my biases, can see that the characterisation is incredibly realistic and fascinating.

lonely hearts hotel

Lonely Hearts Hotel– oof it hurts my soul that I didn’t love this book, because O’Neill is a very talented writer- I’m just not her target audience. This may well be for people who love post-modernism.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian

Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian– there were a number of reasons why I didn’t click with this book: namely that I was too old for this middle grade and it felt too rooted in American culture for me to get- sorry! But if you are the target demographic, it’ll probably work for you (goodness knows the ratings on Goodreads suggest as much!)


Dune– another one that pains me to admit I didn’t like! Dune is *classic* sci fi material- I just couldn’t get on with the writing style! But if you want interesting ideas, this is the way to go.


Watchmen– I’ve never been able to figure out why I didn’t like this one (even though I thought Moore’s other famous graphic novel, V for Vendetta, was incredible). Perhaps if you give it a go it’ll work better for you- there’s plenty of people that’ll tell you it’s a classic!


Steelheart– this one is *super easy* to recommend because 1) I love Sanderson 2) it’s brilliantly written and 3) the plot is amazing. The only reason I didn’t love it is because I personally didn’t connect with the characters- but that’s no fault of the book! So, if you’re looking for a genius take on superheroes, you can’t go wrong with this!

magician's guild

Magician’s Guild– kind of cheating, cos I ended up loving this series- but that’s why I continue to recommend the first one even though I didn’t like it! It gets so much better!!


Goldfinch– I personally didn’t connect with this because of its length, but having read (and adored) the Secret History, I’m actually pretty keen to revisit the Goldfinch. Regardless of whether it ends up being for me or not, I think Tartt is a class act and worth reading.

communist manifesto

The Communist Manifesto– yeahhh I’m going there, cos why the heck not? I’m definitely not recommending that you become a communist, but I trust people to check it out for themselves and not take my word for it that it’s *bad* (looks like I failed at not insulting the books on this list 😉)

Gosh that was a challenging post to do! Do you agree or disagree with my choices? (I know I’m certainly questioning everything I’ve written here 😉) And do you have any books you didn’t like that you’d recommend? Let me know in the comments!

An Exhaustive Study of Why the Goldfinch is Too Long

The_goldfinch_by_donna_tartI’ll try to be brief- or as brief as I can be with a rant about Tartt’s supposed “masterpiece”. As you can probably tell from the title, I’m not so sure I succeeded.

Let’s start with the positives, shall we? The Goldfinch painting by Fabritius is beautiful. It’s just a shame the book wasn’t. Okay, I guess I ran out of positives, cos let’s face it I really did not like this book.

The most obvious issue was that it was too damn long. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got nothing against long books. In fact, nothing gives me more pleasure than sinking my teeth into a really hefty, beautiful book. But this book was at best mediocre- and I hate wasting hours of my time on mediocrity.

Because it is *at best* mediocre. Even when a bomb *literally goes off* the narrative style remains the same. It is slow, plodding and filled with tangential details. There is no contrast in speeds or intensity- which makes me wonder if the author has any control over her narrative. In fact, it becomes pretty clear the author has no emotional range as the book progresses. I mean, it’s about a boy that has just lost his mother, and all we get from him is something along the lines of “I was feeling bad but didn’t show it”. I hate to cite the “show don’t tell” rule, but seriously, this had me grinding my teeth in frustration. Where was the psychological trauma? Where was the expression of pain? I mean, give me something for crying out loud!

But no, that fell flat. Much like the rest of the book. I mean it was only propped up by flat cardboard characters. Not one of them felt real. Initially, when the mother was introduced as this fragmented, idealised figure, I thought it made sense that the narrator would idealise her after she died. But then, as the plot went on, I realised none of the characters had any personality or originality to make them feel like anything more than a faint sketch of a human being. They were all just type-casts. There was The Mobster, The Money Grabbing Father, The Evil Stepmother (I kid you not, this was a character), The Rebel (Boris- who also filled the sanctimonious preachy role), and The Kindly Old Man. I found myself rolling my eyes as cliché after cliché stepped out of the woodwork to join a rather exhaustive list of uninteresting caricatures.

On top of that, it took ages for the plot to go anywhere. And then when things did happen I found myself questioning everything. I didn’t understand why he had to go to Vegas; I didn’t understand why he came back. Heck- I didn’t understand why it went in any direction. Unfortunately, by the time the strands all came together at the end and it started to make sense, it was too late to save my interest.

And then there was the ending! *Groans all around*. I have to give the book a tiny slither of credit in that the heist itself was entertaining. But even with that slight glimmer of hope that there was something to salvage from this 800-page-chore, the ending had such huge plot holes I could’ve driven a bus through them. I mean- for starters- how did they manage to get away without the police asking questions *and* get the reward money *and* go off to live happily ever after. It didn’t make much sense, but then, there were plenty of other things that didn’t make sense in the book.

Then of course, there was the ending that Tartt tagged on so she could be “profound”. This involved the Kindly Old Man stepping in to give a “nice” speech about the power of art (or whatever). And she uses Hobie to do it- even though it makes no sense since he’s just been lied to by the boy he took in- just because he is a convenient voice for her pretentious ramblings.

But the funny thing is, she didn’t even understand how exquisitely ironic it was to quote Picasso saying: “Good artists copy, great artists steal”. I mean, by lifting those words and plonking them in her book like a talisman, I’m sure she thought she was “stealing”. In actuality she was just copying. If she had caught the sentiment and expressed it in her art, then it would have been stealing. Yet sadly, Tartt does not know her craft as well as she thinks she does.

What she failed to understand when she inserted that quote into her book is that good art never has to justify itself. Great art does not need other art to prop it up. Copying that quote just reeked of pretention. And that pretentiousness underscores the reason why this book is so long: it was not long because it had to be, but because the author is self-indulgent.

And for all that the best rating I can feasibly give is:

Rating: 2/5 bananas

half bananahalf banana

(That’s with me trying my best not to be too trigger happy, docking bananas as I went, and judging it on how “good” it was overall)

Alrighty then- agree? Disagree? Just want some bananas? Let me know in the comments below!