September 18, 2014

10 Books The Whole World Loves But Didn't Do It For Me



You know that thing where you read a book and think "This is garbage" and then go to Goodreads or Amazon to look at other reviews and realize, "Oh, apparently I'm on my own here."

Or the extremely awkward thing where someone recommends a book that is the best book ever and so you read it and you think it is really awful but. . . you have to pretend it was great (or possibly avoid that friend for the rest of your life).

Anyway, here are ten of those books for me, where everyone is constantly recommending them to me and I have to either smile and nod or admit that I couldn't even make it through the whole book.

And they are probably your favorite books in the whole world, so you are welcome to tell me that I am a complete idiot.
  • 50 Shades of Gray. Okay, this one is a joke. I haven't read any of this book (although I laughed my head off at Dave Barry's take on the book - warning that there is some slightly sexual content in his essay, which is to be expected considering the subject matter). I promise the next ten books I've actually read or attempted to read. 
  • The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (the Flavia de Luce series). I know! Everyone loves these books so so much. And I didn't hate it. I just had zero desire to read any after the first one. And it took me about 10 years to get through the first one (in all fairness, I was listening to it, and the problem could have been the narrator). 
  • Out of the Dust. My mom bought this for me right when it won the Newbery and I could barely make it through - the whole thing freaked me out so much. Five years later, someone did a piece from it at a speech and debate tournament, and I almost couldn't even sit through it. It's just too much, too graphic for me. 
  • Jacob Have I Loved. I absolutely love Bridge to Terabithia, so I was super excited about this one. And then it wandered on for ages. I liked the premise, just not the actual book. Too bad. 
  • Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children. I don't even have really bad things to say about this book; I just couldn't get into it and eventually gave it up.  
  • The Night Circus. This book is approximately ten thousand CDs long. Even Jim Dale narrating couldn't save it for me. I got to the end and wasn't entirely sure what had even happened or, frankly, if there had even been a plot. 
  • The Maze Runner. I always hear this one recommended as a great, fun read. But I felt like absolutely nothing happened in the entire book. I don't get the appeal at ALL. 
  • Eat Pray Love. This one is probably in the top spot for bestselling books I could not stand. I wrote more about my distaste for this book here
  • Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. I get that it's supposed to be heart-warming and beautiful. But by the end of the book I couldn't stand any of the characters, and I was just relieved it was over. 
  • The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. I just went back and re-read the review I wrote of this back in 2009 and it enraged me all over again how STUPID this book is. I don't feel only contempt or apathy toward this book, I feel actual rage over how bad it is. Even after five years. 
  • We Were Liars. I wanted to love this one. I love The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks more than is normal, and I was thrilled to see another book from her, but. . .this was not the book I was hoping for. I never got into it, and it was one step above a slog for me. (By the way, lots of people who didn't like this book disliked it because they guessed the twist. I did not, and I still thought it was lame). 
I also hate Nutella (I know. It's practically a crime, but I try it about once a year to see if I've changed my mind and every time it basically burns my mouth with its chemically taste), so feel free to think I have the worst taste in everything ever. 

(Feel free to tell me about the popular or beloved books you couldn't handle - we can all enjoy our bad taste in books together). 

67 comments:

  1. The Hunger Games series. I hate Katniss with a fiery passion. Her narration is tedious and annoying. I liked the idea of the story and I have since enjoyed the movies since you can't hear Katniss' thoughts but man. I got through the first book and that's where I left it.

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  2. I know I've mentioned before that Out of the Dust is one of my favorite books ever. I don't remember thinking of it as graphic at all, but then, I didn't read it for the first time until I was an adult.

    I'm actually going to reread The Wednesday Wars sometime this year because when I read it for the first time about five years ago, I didn't think it was all that awesome, but you (and several other people) always rave about it. I'm willing to give it a second chance to see if I'm missing something.

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  3. The only ones I've read are the Fifty Shades trilogy and The Night Circus. I actually enjoyed The Night Circus, but I agree that nothing really happens. It reminded me of the last Twilight book, when everyone is on the field with the bad vampires. Nothing happens, it's basically in Bella's mind because she's protecting everyone with her brain force field thing. Juuust a tad boring.

    I'm not sure if I can read the Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. The photos make me feel so sad. Too many of the wrong feels.

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    1. I'm 67 % of the way through The Night Circus...so now I can expect nothing is really going to happen!!! This book makes me think of King Kong (the movie with Adrian Brody). It's beautiful to look at...but, I'm still waiting to figure out what the GAME is all about.

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  4. The Goldfinch. First of all, it's 7928 pages long. Second of all, it's not about anything. Or rather, it's about so many things it's hard to know what the point of the book is. A little boy losing his mom in 9/11? How kids slip through the cracks when shuttled from home to home? Homoexuality? Art? Drug abuse? Screwed up adult relationships? Forging furniture? I could go on and on (just like Donna Tartt did!) but I'll stop there. Suffice to say, I do not get the hype.

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    1. YES. YES. YES. A million times YES! I HATED this book.

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  5. Thank you! I was also SUPER not into the Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. And I love mystery series! I just couldn't get into it. (I did like the Night Circus though.)

    My book that everyone loved, but I couldn't get into at all is The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. Everyone for the longest time was writing about how it was their favorite. I found the first 75 pages a slog, and finally just gave up. If every book has it's reader, I'm not it's reader.

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    1. Couldn't get through that one either. It was too sad and there was too much swearing for me (I was listening to it)

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  6. I actually did try with 50 Shades of Gray, but after like 10 pages I was so frustrated with the bad writing that I didn't really care what happened in the rest of the book and put it down.

    The Interestings had a lot of hype a while back, and I thought it was should have been named the Borings, because nothing interesting happened in the first 50 pages!

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  7. I've never liked anything by Dave Eggers or David Sedaris or Augustin Burroughs. I also only enjoyed the Italy portion of Eat Pray Love, because of the food. And I couldn't stand to even try 50 Shades. Blech. Also, I'm a bit of a prude when it comes to books.

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  8. I love Flavia, but I couldn't agree more with you about Out of the Dust and Jacob Have I Loved. Also, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas makes me crazy; it is so ridiculously juvenile in all the wrong ways. I am in awe of how many people hold it up as a great WWII book for kids. Blech

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  9. If you don't like Nutella, don't ever, ever try off-brand hazelnut spread. It's pretty much the worst.

    I love these lists! It's just as fun to hear about the books people dislike as it is to hear about their favorites. I think a lot of us are with you on Eat, Pray, Love. After reading (and hating) that book, I just cannot bring myself to read anything else by Elizabeth Gilbert.

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    1. 10 thumbs up, Melanie. I tried Aldi's hazelnut spread and it...is not Nutella.

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  10. Um, you are so right about these books. The Night Circus. Long and annoying.
    The Maze Runner. Another version of the Hunger Games but not done well.
    Eat Pray Love. Talk about really boring middle.
    Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. Tragically depressing.
    We Were Liars. I just finished this book yesterday and was annoyed. Supremely annoyed.
    All the rest of the books you've included, I have not read. But considering we shared the same philosophy on HALF of them, I won't be wasting my time!

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  11. I loved a few of these (but I also tend to tell people I have questionable taste in books before recommending anything, so at least there's fair warning!) but definitely agree with you on We Were Liars. The narrator drove me crazy and made me feel so sad the entire time, but not in a good way...I stuck it out because I don't like to leave books unfinished, but my goodness I was tempted to stop so many times!

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  12. I've only read two on your list, but I hated them both:

    Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Like you, I was just glad when it was over.

    Eat, Pray, Love made me legitimately angry. The fact that she put all of that effort into finding herself...instead of working on her marriage? It just seemed so selfish to me. Well, the whole thing seemed completely self-absorbed. Ugh.

    I'll pile on to The Goldfinch again, as well. I listened to the last two thirds of it at double speed because I hated it SO MUCH. I normally listen at 1-1.5 speed because I'm trying to fill up a commute with audio books. I also felt the same way about the Divergent trilogy. I just...don't get it. Listened to the last book at double speed.

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    1. Divergent didn't do it for me either. I don't get the incredible love for it.

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  13. I wanted to love We Were Liars, too. I think I could have, but it never really went "there" wherever "there" was supposed to be. All hype, no substance.

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  14. Eat Pray Love two huge self absorbed thumbs down.

    When I finished the Night Circus I told Seth that I really loved it... I think. Or maybe I didn't like it. Hold on, I need to think about it.

    For me the Divergent Series was a let down. It's another Hunger Games but not as great. But then again the Hunger Games series last book for sure ruined the whole series for me. I thought the way that it ended made the entire series and Katniss' effort pointless. Plus her inner dialogue and who she is in the 3rd book. Blech.

    And nutella? Really? Not even a little on crusty French bread? Not even when in Europe? (That's close to all I eat in Europe it seems- and come to think of it, I only eat it in Europe.) You are just not the person I thought you were.

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  15. Hi!
    I completely agree with The Maze Runner, I read the entire saga because I was reading at the same time with my best friend and I was really disappointed. Nothing happen in the 3 books!

    This is my most recent hated book, usually I am a reader easy to please.

    Great post!

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  16. I also hated Jacob Have I Loved (it actually reminds me a bit of My One & Only, which I disliked for a similar reason...) and The Maze Runner! Also, I agree with the commenter above: I just wasn't that into Divergent, especially the second book. I didn't even bother with the third.

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  17. Everyone seemed to love The Perks of Being a Wallflower...I just didn't like it. It was a pretty short book and a quick read, which is good because if it had been any longer I don't think I could have finished it. It just didn't have much of a plot for me and the end was both unpredictable and predictable and in some ways relevant and in other ways so random all at the same time. It confused me and I didn't like it.

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  18. I read The Giver at your recommendation and it made me second guess my trust in your books. I just did not get that one. Considering it is now a movie, I must be alone in that. Thankfully you earned my trust again with The Raven Boys series. :)

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    1. The book has been my favorite since I read it when I was 10. The movie has pretty much nothing to do with the book- it's total crap.

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  19. I hated Gone Girl with a passion. People kept raving about it and I thought it sucked. I wanted to punch Amy in the face, and I saw the twist coming miles away.

    I also could not get into Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin. Check out the reviews on goodreads for THAT one.

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    1. I hated Gone Girl too! The whole twist was just bizarre to me. Who honestly does what she did? And I thought Nick was annoying and weak. It was one of the books that I wish I could unread because I disliked it so much.

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  20. I lol'd at the Dave Barry article. Eat Pray Love was pretty mediocre. I actually liked the Night Circus, but more for the visualization of the circus itself than the plot or lack thereof.

    I'm about halfway through Outlander and it's really bothering me. The reviews on Amazon are mostly glowing and I just don't get it. The story could be really interesting, I just can't get past the character flaws.

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    1. PUT IT DOWN AND WALK AWAY. Outlander is definitely not worth finishing in my opinion. Spoiler: the end has this huge long thing that involves male r4pe and then reliving the scene and after four years I still have not been able to scrub that out of my brain.

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  21. We all know you really read 50 Shades of Gray while eating Nutella ;) Just kidding, but when I saw this post I was anxiously waiting to see Heaven is for Real on there due to my over excitement for it at book club last year... Glad to know my recommendation wasn't bad enough for the top 10 haha

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  22. I felt the same way about The Night Circus. I kept trying to give it a chance, and it sat on my night stand for monthssss before I finally gave it back to the library. Blah.

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  23. I don't remember what I thought of eat pray love but I definitely didn't get all the hype. I hated sweetness in the belly, our book club did it but I couldn't get into it. And I had a hard time getting into the book thief. I'm not sure if the last one was bc I had just had a baby and wasn't into reading or of it had been praised too much and I had too high expectations. I'll try it again but I didn't even finish it and that's pretty rare for me.

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  25. Get ready for a long comment. Apparently, you are speaking my language.

    You actually have several books on this list that I just feel "meh" about:
    The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie - Like you I had no desire to read on.
    Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children - Told a friend not to bother with it.
    The Maze Runner - Hated this book with a passion. I cringe when characters solve problems by remembering things they didn't know they had forgotten.
    We Were Liars - It was fine, but I knew what the big twist was on like the second page. (OK, I exaggerate, but it was early on.)

    The only one on your list that I loved that you didn't (the rest I just haven't read) is The Night Circus. I really loved it, but I don't think it's for everyone. It's a quiet, moody book, and I love a book with heaps of atmosphere. Also, I'm not sure this is the type of book that would work really well on audio?

    I think the big book that everyone loves but I don't would be Divergent. I just couldn't be bothered to pick up the next in the series, and now Divergent is like DIVERGENT. Also, I have a real problem with wasteland wanderings (in other words, survival novels). I wrote a whole post about it. http://www.intellectualrecreation.com/search/label/Not%20My%20Thing

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  26. I must admit I feel like a total loner on this, but The Fault in our Stars is really not that great. Maybe I had high expectations since it was made into a movie and everyone I know was raving about it, but it didn't really get much emotion out of me, which is saying a lot since I'm 6 months pregnant and cry to just about everything! I also agree about The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. Took me forever to read it and then when I stared at the other books I'm the series I was like, I'm good if I never read another one.

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  27. A dagger just went through my heart. I wrote my senior thesis on Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and my copy has withstood all our moves. Hah! But, I have to agree I was annoyed with some of the characters too. I love Oskar forever though.

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  28. I'm so confused how anyone could not love Nutella. Chemical taste? I don't get it. It's the most delicious!

    Anyway, I'm usually a pretty major bandwagon-jumper and have no problem loving books that everyone else loves without spending much critical analysis of it. I totally loved Eat, Pray, Love by the way... but then I have zero ethical issues with divorce and really enjoyed her descriptive writing style. And that book came at a time that I'd just lost my job and my fiancé had just left me for another woman and kicked me out of our house, and I decided to go traveling solo without a return ticket home, so it was something of a lifeline for me at the time.

    My books that I just couldn't get into that everyone else loved?
    Gone Girl. I thought the story was set up really well until the big twist, and from that point on, I found the writing juvenile and totally unsatisfying.
    And Jonathan Tropper's This Is Where I Leave You. It's not that I hate this book... I don't... I just thought it was utterly unremarkable and boring. What on earth is all the hype about?

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  29. YES! Eat Pray Love. I did not enjoy it even a little bit. I really wanted to like Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, but it went on a little long and boring for me.

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  30. I hate Nutella too! People always rave about how great it is, but YUCK!

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  31. I don't care for Nutella. And the Boy in the Striped Pajamas just made me sick. Blah. You're better than me in that you actually finish the book if you don't like it. I put the book in the return bag and don't even bother!

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  32. I really enjoy the Flavia de Luce books, but I agree with you on many of your other selections. I think I started Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close at one point but quit. I finished The Maze Runner recently and really didn't like it. Like you, I felt as though nothing really happened, and I also felt as though it could have been about 50 pages shorter. I was interested at first, but then it fell to pieces for me, and I just had to trudge through it. I also HATED Night Circus. I have absolutely no idea what happened, and if I had to provide a summary, it would pretty much be, "Umm...a magic circus? Time travel?" I really hated The Great Gatsby which is supposedly an awesome classic, but I found no redeeming qualities in any of the characters. I'm not sure how to like a book filled with characters I loathe.

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  33. Yes to Eat Pray Love
    Hated Gone Girl
    Bored by Atonement

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  34. 100% agree with you on Boy in the Striped Pajamas. I actually became angry reading it, wondering how in the world any editor would let it slip through. The film, on the other hand, was much better--did you see it?

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  35. Oh man. I love this post. Let me just get out all my angst over the books everyone loves that I pretty much hate.

    1- Divergent. Read it. Hated it. And just couldn't get past the fact that the love interest's name is TOBIAS. Could we pick any uglier name?! Blech. The whole premise just seemed really shaky to me and all the tension just felt contrived.
    2 - The Night Circus. Just couldn't ever finish it. I agree - just no plot.
    3 - Anything by Neil Gaiman. Beautiful writing but I just can't get into any of the stories, no matter how hard I try.
    4 - Flavia de Luce. It was - meh - fine. But I didn't love it and everyone else just raves over it.
    5 - The Raven Boys books. I read the first one and it was almost something I liked but I just felt so confused by so much of it. And the characters didn't feel very organic to me - they felt so formulated. I don't know. I didn't love it.
    6 - Starcrossed. Okay. I HATED this one. So so much. Hated everything about it. I kept reading just because it had such rave reviews by so many of my friends and I thought maybe it would change. But it didn't! The main girl was always stupid and the plot was always contrived and the prose was always boring. Okay rant over.

    Wow. That feels good to finally get all of that out. :)

    And I remember when I moved from Paris back to America and Nutella came to America a few years later, it tasted different than it had in France. So maybe schedule your once-yearly Nutella test for some of the time you're in Europe, just in case it's a little different there still. :)

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  36. The Fault in Our Stars- annoyed me to no end, and it didn't make me emotional at all. Just 'meh.'

    I completely agree about The Boy in the Striped Pajamas!

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  37. The Night Circus- yes! I got to the end I said out loud: "I don't get it." I hate that!

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  38. I completely get the Nutella thing. Hazelnuts have always been my favorite until my last pregnancy in Europe. Now each time I even look at anything with hazelnuts I gag. It's so disappointing!

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  39. Possibly Jim Dale narrating the Night Circus is the reason you didn't like it. :) I love him reading Harry Potter but cannot think of a worse narrator for the Night Circus.

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  40. I detest Elegance of a Hedgehog. Worst book ever. I never got into, yet every celebrity was telling the world how amazing it was. It wasn't amazing, there wasn't a plot, there wasn't a point. And the abrupt end to the plot made me happy because there was no chance for reviving the plot line for a sequel.

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  41. Eat, Pray, Love should be called, Me, Me, Me.
    The Uglies series-- just awful
    I thought I enjoyed Flavia, but then when I think about getting the next, my heart tells me no every time.

    People rave about Cinder...and it seems so incredibly stupid I refuse to try.

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    1. Also you should read my recent best books post and validate me...or smile and nod and avoid me forever.

      Julieandbrandon.blogspot.com

      After I wrote it I wanted to write 10 worst books blog..maybe I'll just link your blog instead.

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  42. Well I'm sure out of it...I've only read one of those books, Maze Runner. I actually liked it and read the entire series - as happens many times, the first was the best in my opinion. I give your Mom The Maze Runner, along with another book, for her birthday last year (so I guess I did like it!), she never said anything so my guess is that she shares your opinion! I don't like pumpkin pie, so what that says about my taste in things I hate to think. Really enjoying sharing your trip through FB posts!

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  43. Some of these I haven't read, some I agree with, and the only two that I disagree with you on are The Night Circus (not my favorite of all time but I liked it quite a bit) and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (definitely one of my faves).

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  44. I haven't read any of those, and now I'm in no hurry!
    I didn't love Fablehaven. I have no desire to read any of the other books in the series. I feel bad. Oh well.
    And this isn't necessarily a not like, but I can't get through 1984. I've tried two or three times. But I think I've only listened to the audio. Maybe I could skim the sex stuff if I read it? I just couldn't handle it! Obviously I'm a prude :).

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  45. I read Flavia this past summer. I liked the beginning, then it went on and on and on about stamps and I lost interest. Didn't hate the book, but I won't read any more.

    The first two books that came to mind (since I read them this past summer, too):

    The Fault in Our Stars. Ugh. So pretentious. I got through 70 pages and called it quits. When I tell people I didn't like it, they look at me like I don't have a soul.

    The other one was The Rosie Project. There are SO many good reviews of it and lots of recommendations, so I decided to check it out (though contemporary rom-com isn't really my genre of choice) and was totally 'meh' about it. I thought it was super-predictable and cliche (and I couldn't stand Rosie). I found myself skimming through the ending because I wanted to be done. Plus, I was surprised by the f-bombs in it. None of the reviews I read mentioned that.

    I feel guilty berating authors (being an aspiring author myself, I know well the time, effort, and angst that goes into writing a novel). That said, there is something cathartic about venting about books everyone else seems to love. Great post. :)

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  46. Totally agree about The Night Circus, Miss Peregine's Home for Peculiar Children, and Maze Runner. I enjoyed We Were Liars more than you did, maybe because I didn't realize it was by the same author as The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks and so I wasn't comparing the two.it wasn't excell but I enjoyed it and didn't guess the twist.

    I love hearing that I'm not the only one!

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  47. Oh my goodness, I thought I was the only one that didn't get The Night Circus! It was just too long and not that interesting. I thought maybe I was missing something because everyone else loved it. Another book for me is City of Bones. I get the idea that a lot of people like it but I just didn't think it was a good book. I just think I didn't like Cassandra Clare's writing style that much and I didn't really care for any of the characters.

    Nice to know I'm not alone with some of my thoughts. :)

    P.S: I don't like nutella either!

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  48. I didn't even manage to finish The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, or Night Circus, or Miss Peregrine! It's good to know it isn't just me. As for others, once I read My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult and got to the end, I almost threw the book across the room. That stupid twist! I'll never read one of hers again.

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  49. i feel the same way about jacob have i loved and extremely loud and incredibly close--i couldn't even get through it! it really drove me crazy. i kind of liked miss peregrine's home for peculiar children, but mostly i just thought it was weird and probably wouldn't ever recommend it to anyone! glad you do these posts, it makes me feel better about my literary preferences :)

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  50. I hate nutella. Always.
    And I actually liked eat pray love just because I enjoyed reading about the people and places and food, though I'm like thinking the whole time "um, self-absorbed much?"
    And off subject but I just read I've got your number by Sophie kinsella b/c I remembered you talking about it once. I liked it! I was trying to look up your review but my.phone is being stupid boo.

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  51. I agree with The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie - I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it either. I won't be reading any further in the series. Gone Girl is another one I didn't like. Kudos to the author for the story twist, but it was just simply an awful story about two awful human beings. And just yesterday I finished Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane. I feel like I just wasted a few hours of my life that I will never get back again and I got to the end and wasn't even entirely sure what I was supposed to have gotten out of the story. And the Nutella thing - I totally get it.

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  52. My Aunt Ju introduced me to The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (we love Flavia) and we got my Mom to try it. She tried the audiobook too and didn't care for it. Too bad because for me they are fun simple reads.

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    1. I really think it might be the narrator that wasn't that great. Too bad.

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    2. Seems pretty important for audiobooks. We LOVE listening to Jim Dale reading Harry Potter. I listened to the Book Thief and it was alright. Narrators can really make or break a book. But with busy lives, listening to a book is so tempting!

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  53. Bridge to Terabithia is one of my favorite books and I absolutely HATE Jacob Have I Loved. Phew!! Thanks for letting me get that secret out of my mind and onto the internet forever!
    Water for Elephants is another one that a bunch of people have recommended and I just don't care.

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