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Books to avoid like a bookworm on a diet

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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 2 stephodile


    Under the Tuscan Sun (non-fictional). I had to read it for a class last year and I have quite literally never come across such self-satisfied, condescending rubbish. Tearing it apart in my end-of-year essay was the highlight of my final year.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 28 ✭✭✭ Young ned of the hill


    wilkie2006 wrote: »
    Has anyone read "Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Class"? I'm reading it now and I'm not impressed (but, annoyingly, can't abandon it)

    Why, I'm just over half through it, I didn't like the start of it though, I'm starting to like a lot more. I think he does put across quite an interesting analysis to be honest.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,046 ✭✭✭ wilkie2006


    Mars Bar wrote: »
    My Sister is reading "When Irish guys are smiling" by Suzanne Supplee.

    Sweet lord it's atrocious. She's been telling me all of the stupid Irish stereotypes in the book. Peader is spelt Pather and everything about it is just wrong. It just seems to be horribly researched by someone who has clearly never been to Ireland.

    Wow, just read a page of it from Amazon's "Look inside" function. Just... wow. It's awful!


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,046 ✭✭✭ wilkie2006


    Why, I'm just over half through it, I didn't like the start of it though, I'm starting to like a lot more. I think he does put across quite an interesting analysis to be honest.

    The tenet of the book chimes with my own opinion but I just didn't feel the argument was very well presented. Although I enjoyed the didactic chapter that explains what life under Thatcher was like, for the most part I think that the author uses the same sweeping rhetoric to defend the working class as he claims is used to attack it. Insead of presenting a balanced argument, I thought that he took on a crusader-like, bleeding heart liberal caricature that really undermined the (valid) points that he was trying to make. I thought this was a real shame because - as I've said - I symphathise with the idea behind the book and feel it's an issue that should be talked about more.

    Have you noticed that the author, Owen Jones, has omitted his credentials from the book's opening? Before reading it I had assumed he was an academic but after a quick look online I'm not surprised he left his CV out; according to Wikipedia, he's just a 27 year-old post-graduate. While I don't think there's anything wrong with that in and of itself, I'm not really sure he's qualified to critique what is an academic issue.

    (I hope I'm not being patronising here - it's really not my intention and apologies if I'm being brusque; I just find it more interesting to exchange ideas about books than to just list things and say they're rubbish).


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,046 ✭✭✭ wilkie2006


    Millicent wrote: »
    The use of multi-perspective was risky but to not have any interesting action to make the gambit worth it? A big disappointment. One of the few books I haven't finished. I gave up about halfway through.

    I wish I had've done the same. I actually find it really annoying how such a poor piece of work has catapulted the author to fame (and fortune, most likely).


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  • Registered Users Posts: 13 ✭✭✭ bitlocked


    The Drunkard's Walk by Leonard Mlodinow. Another Freakonomics/Black Swan wannabe, but a particularly dull one. If you've got a solid grasp of what the concept "average" implies, you already know everything in this book.


  • Registered Users Posts: 895 ✭✭✭ Mr.Wemmick


    Plowman wrote: »
    This post has been deleted.

    I am dragging this old post up because I could not agree more. Umberto Eco is an amazing writer.. of his books, I read Foucault's Pendulum first many moons ago. I have yet to get my hands on his recent Prague Cemetery.

    U. Eco is an outstanding writer and unique.. brilliant!

    I have also read in some old posts criticism of Dickens and Tolkien. What? Seriously? Note: Mr Wemmick's displeasure :eek:

    I read LOTR every year - it lifts my spirits like nothing else. Although, I often skip the latter half of the return of the King - it's just an inevitable wind down for such a huge story. I thoroughly enjoy the first two books of the trilogy - have always drawn similarities between the equally dramatic moving trees of Fangorn forest to the Birnam wood in Macbeth.


  • Registered Users Posts: 46 ✭✭✭ Beware


    The book that first comes to mind when I think of a book I hated is "The Scarlet Letter" by Hawthorne. I know it never goes down well when someone snubs a supposed classic, but I absolutely loathed this book. Few other books could be as dull.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,046 ✭✭✭ wilkie2006


    Beware wrote: »
    The book that first comes to mind when I think of a book I hated is "The Scarlet Letter" by Hawthorne. I know it never goes down well when someone snubs a supposed classic, but I absolutely loathed this book. Few other books could be as dull.

    I haven't read "The Scarlet Letter" but I know what you mean about finding some classics difficult to engage with. I suppose authors were writing for an audience with longer attention spans that we enjoy now. I absolutely hated "Tess of the d'Urbervilles" by Hardy. Ugh, what a slog...


  • Registered Users Posts: 299 ✭✭ RubyRoss


    wilkie2006 wrote: »
    Before reading it I had assumed he was an academic but after a quick look online I'm not surprised he left his CV out; according to Wikipedia, he's just a 27 year-old post-graduate. While I don't think there's anything wrong with that in and of itself, I'm not really sure he's qualified to critique what is an academic issue.

    So a 27 year old post-graduate is too young and lacking in academic qualifications?


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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,046 ✭✭✭ wilkie2006


    RubyRoss wrote: »
    So a 27 year old post-graduate is too young and lacking in academic qualifications?

    To write on this particular topic, yes. As a 28 year-old with an MA in Sociology, I would consider myself under-qualified too (as I believe any non-academic should).


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,898 ✭✭✭ Ormus


    Earthhorse wrote: »
    Dracula - influential and incredibly boring.

    Terry Pratchett - unfunny and can't write to save his life.

    Charles Dickens - bloated prose and heavy handed social commentary! Fun!

    Lord of the Rings - the template for fantasy literature and a seminal book but it's lack of proper characterisation coupled with the infinite detail makes for a slow and uninspiring read.

    Tom Clancy - just write essays about the CIA so we can cut out the crap.

    Mentioning the likes of Brown on these threads is an insult to the reader's intelligence. I think it would be better if people focused on literature that's been popular for sometime rather than faddy stuff which is easy to avoid.

    Charles Dickens - A genius at creating characters and a master of telling stories. Bloated prose, yes, it's called literature.

    Dracula is a great thriller, well written, fast paced.

    Lord of the Rings - Best story I've ever read.


  • Registered Users Posts: 274 ✭✭ PurpleBee


    Ormus wrote: »
    Charles Dickens - A genius at creating characters and a master of telling stories. Bloated prose, yes, it's called literature.

    When lambasting Dickens its always worth remembering that many of the flaws in his work arise from the method of its publication, serialisation. Compare him to someone under similar constraints at the same time, the writing machine Trollope, and you can appreciate how good Dickens really was...


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 23 ✭✭✭ Susan Lanigan


    Struggled with Sense of an Ending, I must admit...


  • Registered Users Posts: 10 ✭✭✭ bronaghc


    There are so many awful books hailed as the greatest of our generation. One I actually managed to finish is And then we came to the end by joshua ferris, but I couldnt even get past chapter 3 of Colum McCanns Let The Great World Spin, it's painfully discriptive, long winded and hollow. For me, someone who writes a novel should be first and foremost a storyteller. If they need to hide behind their weak story with lots of clever prose, I give up. Its only when you've come to the end of the journey with the character that you as a reader should even start to realise the authors style. I can honestly say theres only author out there today who embodies what i believe an author should be and thats David Nicholls. I just wish he would hurry up with book No.4!


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,383 ✭✭✭ emeraldstar


    bronaghc wrote: »
    I can honestly say theres only author out there today who embodies what i believe an author should be and thats David Nicholls. I just wish he would hurry up with book No.4!

    Seriously? The only work of his I've read is One Day and that is one horrible book. I hope his others are better than that!


  • Moderators, Entertainment Moderators Posts: 12,881 Mod ✭✭✭✭ iguana


    Bad Day in Blackrock by Kevin Power. I'm just halfway through it but it is absolutely dire. A fictionalised version of the death of Brian Murphy it supposedly gives an amazing insight into the world and mindset of the Celtic Tiger Cubs at the start of the century.

    It's so awful, really, really badly written, supposedly narrated by a friend of all those involved, the narrator knows things that he couldn't possibly know. Sentences and whole passages are repeated ad nauseum, if the book was edited down it would barely have 20 pages of original prose. It thinks it's clever, it really, really thinks it's clever. All the time I'm reading it I get the feeling of an author who is so pleased with how clever his writing is, and it isn't.

    The worst thing of all is that there is a major goof running through the book. The events of the book happened in 2004 and all of the characters up to this point love shopping in Dundrum Town Centre, a shopping centre that opened up in 2005. On the surface that doesn't sound like that big a mistake but then it hits you just what that goof means and the book loses all credibility. Part of Power's credibility as a writer is that he as a peer of those involved in the Murphy case he provides a genuine insight into their world. But if he can get something so basic utterly wrong then it's obvious that he doesn't know the subject he is writing about at all.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,046 ✭✭✭ wilkie2006


    Has anyone read much of John Le Carre? I thought that "The Spy who came in from the Cold" was okay but after 80-odd pages of "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" I'm ready to jump ship. I just think it's really dull. I'm aware that it's widely considered to be his seminal work so am somewhat reluctant to just put it down. Can anyone tell me if it picks up a bit?

    BTW, I haven't seen the recent film (or the BBC series)


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,898 ✭✭✭ Ormus


    bronaghc wrote: »
    There are so many awful books hailed as the greatest of our generation. One I actually managed to finish is And then we came to the end by joshua ferris, but I couldnt even get past chapter 3 of Colum McCanns Let The Great World Spin, it's painfully discriptive, long winded and hollow. For me, someone who writes a novel should be first and foremost a storyteller. If they need to hide behind their weak story with lots of clever prose, I give up. Its only when you've come to the end of the journey with the character that you as a reader should even start to realise the authors style. I can honestly say theres only author out there today who embodies what i believe an author should be and thats David Nicholls. I just wish he would hurry up with book No.4!

    I enjoyed Let the Great World Spin.

    Descriptive prose is used to paint a vivid picture of the story. It's purpose is to develop characters and give a story perspective. Without it you are left with no interest in the characters and no mental image of where or how or why the story might be taking place. To say that prose is used to hide the weakness of the story.....you have completely missed the point of literature.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,046 ✭✭✭ wilkie2006


    bronaghc wrote: »
    For me, someone who writes a novel should be first and foremost a storyteller. If they need to hide behind their weak story with lots of clever prose, I give up.
    Ormus wrote: »
    I enjoyed Let the Great World Spin.

    Descriptive prose is used to paint a vivid picture of the story. It's purpose is to develop characters and give a story perspective. Without it you are left with no interest in the characters and no mental image of where or how or why the story might be taking place. To say that prose is used to hide the weakness of the story.....you have completely missed the point of literature.

    Although I feel that bronaghc's sweeping statement is clumsy and slightly provocative, I think you, Ormus, are being somewhat unfair in your riposte.

    As far as I'm concerned, an author - before anything else - has a duty to their reader to produce an entertaining piece of work. Any decent writer can construct their novel in layers, allowing readers to decide on how much - or how little - they wish to engage with it.

    Personally, I share your view, Ormus, that the prose, subtext, characterisation etc is what makes a great novel great. I enjoy poring over language and considering what's going on beneath it but that's just me; I don't think that literature should ever be considered the preserve of literary critics.

    To assert that bronaghc is missing the point of literature is quite unreasonable. The point of literature, like any of the arts, is to stimulate the reader, whether it's thanks to its narrative or something more esoteric and challenging.

    If an author wishes to use their novel as a social commentary then fine but if they're incapable of weaving this into the overall narrative they should write an essay instead. Literature's primary charge is to deliver something that a reader enjoys. If this reader has no interest in exploring ideas beyond the apparent story, so be it.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 3,898 ✭✭✭ Ormus


    wilkie2006 wrote: »
    Although I feel that bronaghc's sweeping statement is clumsy and slightly provocative, I think you, Ormus, are being somewhat unfair in your riposte.

    As far as I'm concerned, an author - before anything else - has a duty to their reader to produce an entertaining piece of work. Any decent writer can construct their novel in layers, allowing readers to decide on how much - or how little - they wish to engage with it.

    Personally, I share your view, Ormus, that the prose, subtext, characterisation etc is what makes a great novel great. I enjoy poring over language and considering what's going on beneath it but that's just me; I don't think that literature should ever be considered the preserve of literary critics.

    To assert that bronaghc is missing the point of literature is quite unreasonable. The point of literature, like any of the arts, is to stimulate the reader, whether it's thanks to its narrative or something more esoteric and challenging.

    If an author wishes to use their novel as a social commentary then fine but if they're incapable of weaving this into the overall narrative they should write an essay instead. Literature's primary charge is to deliver something that a reader enjoys. If this reader has no interest in exploring ideas beyond the apparent story, so be it.

    Well ok, perhaps I was overly dogmatic in my criticism. Of course every person is entitled to an opinion. And it is possible that an author could go overboard and drown a work in prose to cover up the fact that they are an inept storyteller.

    But I read Let the Great World Spin, and it definitely did not go overboard in it's use of prose. And to suggest that prose gets in the way of a good story does completely miss the point of prose, which is to complement and add to a story and give it depth and perspective.

    I think the fact that Bronaghc believes that only one writer in the history of mankind has lived up to what an author should be, is plenty evidence that she is not really concerned with presenting a balanced viewpoint.

    I will resist offering my opinion on David Nicholls


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,046 ✭✭✭ wilkie2006


    Ormus wrote: »
    And to suggest that prose gets in the way of a good story does completely miss the point of prose, which is to complement and add to a story and give it depth and perspective.

    Certainly. Completely agree.
    Ormus wrote: »
    I think the fact that Bronaghc believes that only one writer in the history of mankind has lived up to what an author should be, is plenty evidence that she is not really concerned with presenting a balanced viewpoint.

    I will resist offering my opinion on David Nicholls

    Yes, maybe ;) I guess I'm arguing a broader point that Bronaghc touches upon, rather than wholeheartedly supporting the original post itself.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 2,847 HavingCrack


    3/4 of the way through On Canaan's Side by Sebastian Barry and just can't bring myself to finish it. The entire plot is absolutely ludicrous and makes no sense whatsoever. The book is written from the perspective of an obviously partially senile woman which was the author's intention but just ends up annoying me. It jumps from location to location and time to time constantly without any real attempt to tie it all together.

    Eugh, I suppose some people may well enjoy it but a book that annoy's me so much is bound to do the same to other's also.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 6 ✭✭✭ GrauballeMan


    I should probably mention Jeffrey Archer's Only Time Will Tell - it's an easy one to complain about. :)

    It's a rocking story, in typical Archer style, full of odd coincidences and with Lady Luck fluttering over our hero's shoulder all the time. It's about twice as long as it could be (if Archer were a different kind of writer, rather than a story teller), and there's very little description which would please those who value plot over much else.

    I read it for a book club I'm involved in and while I stayed up all night to finish it and enjoyed it, I felt a bit grubby afterwards. Like I'd been cheated on by the writer. Which I suppose makes me a bit of a snob :)

    Awful books I've read are Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger, anything by Jodi Piccoult (I know, I know, but I can't bear being so blatantly manipulated) and another we read in the book club which was so dire I need to be reminded of its title, I've tried so hard to forget it. Was a huge girlie bestseller which caused a decent reading row. I don't usually finish books I really don't like unless it's for book clubs.

    I loved Let the Great World Spin.


  • Registered Users Posts: 17,216 ✭✭✭✭ Thargor


    Any fantasy fans should stay away from The Sword of Truth series, its so awful you'll vomit even though its made millions for the author:
    (The hero deals with an eight-year-old child's fit of temper:) Princess Violet glared at him. "My mother says that Confessor Kahlan will come back and that we'll have a surprise for her the next time she comes here. I just want you to know because my mother said you'll be dead by then. My mother says I get to decide what to do to her. First, I'm going to cut off her hair." Her hands were in fists, her face red. "Then I'm going to let all the guards rape her, every one! Then I'm going to put her in the dungeon for a few years so they'll have someone to play with! Then when I get tired of hurting her, I'll have her head chopped off and put it on a pole where I can watch it rot!"

    Richard actually felt sorry for the little Princess. The sadness for her came over him in a wave. At that feeling, he was surprised to feel the thing in him that had come awake rise up.

    Princess Violet squeezed her eyes shut, stuck her tongue out far as she could.

    It was like a red flag.

    The strength of the awakened power exploded through him.

    He could feel her jaw shatter like a crystal goblet on a stone floor when his boot came up under it. The impact of the blow lifted the Princess into the air. Her own teeth severed her tongue before they, too, shattered. She landed on her back, a good distance away, trying to scream through the gushing blood.
    (A Communist - Nicci is going to see a statue carved by the protagonist who has had no formal training in masonry)

    Once in place, her pulse pounding, she turned.

    Nicci´s gaze rose up the legs, the robes, the arms, the bodies of the two peoples, up to their faces. She felt as if a giant fist squeezed her heart to a stop.

    This was what was in Richard´s eyes brought into existence in glowing white marble. To see it fully realized was like being struck by lightning.

    In that instant, her entire life, everything that had ever happenéd to her, everything she had ever seen, heard, or done, seemed to come together in one flash of emotional violence. Nicci cried out in pain at the beauty of it, and more so at the beauty of what it represented.

    Her eyes fell on the name carved in the stone base.

    LIFE

    Nicci collapsed to the floor in tears, in abject shame, in horror, in revulsion, in sudden blinding comprehension...In pure joy. (seeing the statue converts her to being a Randian Objectivist Libertarian)
    More, read the chicken one at the top of the page:

    http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/sword-of-truth?before=1322164598


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Business & Finance Moderators, Entertainment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 17,574 CMod ✭✭✭✭ Nody


    Thargor wrote: »
    Any fantasy fans should stay away from The Sword of Truth series, its so awful you'll vomit even though its made millions for the author:
    Sadly 911 really went down badly for the guy :/ His first books are/were ok honestly but after that... Well he went on a paranoid "capitalism is teh best" only to wrap things up with deux ex solutions (that the hero of course only knew).

    It was painful to finish book 6 or 7 (which ever was the second last, not the latest released which was as far as I'm concerned the end of the main story arcs). There are worse series and books out there though.

    Oh and lets add one to the pile. I'll usually finish books even if they are poor but this one has stumped even me, David Simon's Homicide. It's suppose to be following a crime department for a year and all developments but it is so utterly boring with out anything of interest. I managed over 300 pages before I simply put it away to read something else and I never bothered to come back to it.


  • Registered Users Posts: 17,216 ✭✭✭✭ Thargor


    Nody wrote: »
    Sadly 911 really went down badly for the guy :/
    What did he lose someone or did it just make him go crazy? Or is it even Sept 11 you're talking about?


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Business & Finance Moderators, Entertainment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 17,574 CMod ✭✭✭✭ Nody


    Thargor wrote: »
    What did he lose someone or did it just make him go crazy? Or is it even Sept 11 you're talking about?
    He just went crazy from a writing point of view (don't know if he lost someone or not) and the ebil communist Soviet vs. good guys capitalist free America spin got turned up to extreme levels in the books from that point on (and yes I'm talking about Sep 11).


  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 32,866 ✭✭✭✭ MagicMarker


    Nody wrote: »
    Oh and lets add one to the pile. I'll usually finish books even if they are poor but this one has stumped even me, David Simon's Homicide. It's suppose to be following a crime department for a year and all developments but it is so utterly boring with out anything of interest. I managed over 300 pages before I simply put it away to read something else and I never bothered to come back to it.

    Well holy jaysis, that's only one of my favourite non-fiction books ever, and it's rare that I come across anyone who doesn't hold it in high regard.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 5,316 ✭✭✭ JustAThought


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