Books I Hate
There's a wonderful "Books I Hate" thread going on Salon.com. I feel compelled to add to it here.
Walden. This tops the list. Can't say I ever really read it, but large chunks of it were inflicted on me in high school English class discussion. 'Nuff said.
The Mayor of Casterbridge is yet another high-school-English casualty. For all I know, it may be a perfectly good book, but I'll never know. I was in my 20s before I could stand to read Mark Twain again. High school English classes are Evil. I'd like to say high school English teachers are evil, but I remember some (not all!) of them too fondly to say that. They must just be tragically misguided.
Speaking of high school, I really wish I'd encountered The Lord of the Rings then. It looks like a masterful book, with a great story, and I think there are many points in my life when I would've really liked it. But I've met one too many fantasy-obsessed dweebs to enjoy it now; every page reminds me of something (or someone!) annoying.
There's the previously mentioned Alexander the Great book, but it wasn't really bad enough to go on any sort of All-Time-Rotten list.
The Bear and the Dragon, by Tom Clancy. I've read most Clancy books, and will plow through all the horrible bits for the sake of the story, but I couldn't do that with this one. I don't know how it ends, and I don't care.
Tom Clancy inspires the introduction of a subcategory: Authors I'm Ashamed To Read But Read Anyway
Topping this list is Robert A. Heinlein. Authoritarianism, misogony, and a heaping helping of drivel, but somehow there's still an entertaining plot buried inside. So I can't help myself. But I'm really glad I'm not his daughter, or his niece.
Then there's Harry Turtledove and his various pseudonyms, perhaps a successor to Heinlein. Given his other stuff, I'm almost ashamed to admit that I like Over the Wine-Dark Sea and its sequels. They're entertaining historical fiction. But I couldn't stomach his alternative histories, and Household Gods, co-authored with Judith Tarr, has one of the most unlikable main characters I've ever encountered.
And I can't forget Jean Auel. She has such a fascinating idea for a book series. She tells much of her story so well. But I can't recommend her books to anyone - it's too embarassing. Does any book really need that much sex?