Best review of worst book ever
June 15, 2008 12:39 PM   Subscribe

"The lamp's glow was very weak compared to the blue glow emancipating from the basement." And while the award for best book review ever certainly goes to young Chaz Moore, the contest for worst book ever written presents some competition. And so as not to offend anyone, here's the obligatory honorable mention.
posted by odasaku (43 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Worst book ever published, maybe. I guarantee it's not the worst ever written. Any agent or editor who's had to go through a slush pile could tell you that.
posted by Caduceus at 12:53 PM on June 15, 2008

Worst book I've ever voluntarily read: The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

I am not kidding.
posted by jagorev at 12:57 PM on June 15, 2008

Yeah - it's not really fair to include vanity-published books in this kind of competition. All sorts of nuts (previously) have stumped up enough money to get their 67 notebooks worth of rambling into print, and many such books are now indexed by Amazon. Just because it's got an Amazon page doesn't mean a publisher ever thought anybody'd buy it.
posted by dansdata at 12:59 PM on June 15, 2008

The worst book I ever read was The Prince of Tides ("Lowenstein. Lowenstein." ugh).

The best book review I ever read was of Jewel's book of poetry (A Night in Armor or something like that). The review just described the font in great detail. If anyone knows who that was or where it was published, please let me know, it was brilliant.
posted by Falconetti at 1:21 PM on June 15, 2008

I think you mean this.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 1:25 PM on June 15, 2008

I think the worst book I've ever read would probably have to be The Celestine Prophecy. Though I seem to remember reading something a couple years ago that used the word "sexily" twice in one paragraph, on top of using "sexy" itself in the same paragraph. I almost refused to read the rest of that book, but, if memory serves, that was the worst of it, and the remainder was passably written and interesting, I think.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 1:34 PM on June 15, 2008

was this vanity published? - if so, then i can't really rail at the publishing industry for allowing something so obviously bad to be published

great review, though

Worst book I've ever voluntarily read: The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

really? why do you say that?
posted by pyramid termite at 1:49 PM on June 15, 2008

Funniest review I ever read!

The worst books I ever read are the attempts of Brian Herbert to cash in Frank Herbert's "Dune". The sad thing is that I keep checking the new ones out from the library (at least I'm not buying them anymore) hoping against hope for a spark of Frank's genius.

I read the first two chapters of the Celestine Prophecy standing in the aisle of Barnes and Noble. I bought it, took it home, and was utterly disappointed in the rest of the book. My theory is that all the critics who praised the book read only the first two chapters, rushed to print their reviews, and if they ever finished the book, were too ashamed to fess up.
posted by francesca too at 1:59 PM on June 15, 2008

The first link is a bizarre cheap shot. He reviews a vanity press book that few people were likely to have even heard of if not for his bringing it to everyone's attention, and then declares that books like this are the reason nobody reads anymore?
posted by Legomancer at 2:00 PM on June 15, 2008

The worst book I've ever read was The Fifth Sorceress by Robert Newcomb. It's not just bad, it's astoundingly, stupendously awful. You can probably work out exactly what it'll be like once you know that the author is proud about the fact he's only ever read one novel in the genre (Terry Goodkind's Wizard's First Rule apparently. From this vision, remove any believable female characters and add in some simpering idiots and evil dominatrixes and I've saved you hours of your life.

Random House bought it after an inexplicable bidding war for what may have been the highest deal offered to a debut fantasy author.
posted by xchmp at 2:14 PM on June 15, 2008 [1 favorite]

That book sounds like a Mary Sue
posted by pantufla_milagrosa at 2:34 PM on June 15, 2008

I'm sure Terry gave it a good try, but there's no way he could beat out Urshurak as the worst fantasy novel ever.
posted by SPrintF at 3:21 PM on June 15, 2008

However bad the book may be, this is not a good review. There are thousands of books of equivalent quality published by AuthorHouse, iUniverse, etc. Spending 1,500 words pointing our errors of meaning and grammar in a vanity-published mess that is destined to be forgotten by all but the author seems rather pointless.

If I want humor from my Amazon reviews, I'd rather read the pithy comments of one-star reviews given to literary classics. At least they understand the value of brevity.
posted by camcgee at 3:32 PM on June 15, 2008

The worst book? Catcher in the Rye. Read it when I was 22. I just completely missed the boat. I kept thinking, "this guy's a total dickhead."
posted by parmanparman at 3:45 PM on June 15, 2008 [2 favorites]

I can only wonder what Tolkien might think if he were alive today.
posted by tommasz at 4:01 PM on June 15, 2008

Worst book I've ever voluntarily read: The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
The worst book? Catcher in the Rye

Ooh fun! Can I play?
Worst play ever: Hamlet. Awful.
worst band: The Beatles. Just terrible.
Worst animal: Puppies. Puppies are a bunch of bullshit.
posted by drjimmy11 at 5:00 PM on June 15, 2008 [18 favorites]

jagorev: I can only assume you haven't had the displeasure of reading Fitzgerald's The Beautiful & Damned. Now, there's a real stinking pile of horseshit for you.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:09 PM on June 15, 2008

As I read it, jagorev was forced to read the balance of Fitzgerald's oeuvre.
posted by pullayup at 7:00 PM on June 15, 2008

Worst - Dan Brown: Angels & Demons.

Published before the DaVinci code (and rapidly republished after) it uses the same hackneyed pulp-fiction devices as his better known vomitus.
  1. Comic book villains
  2. Preposterous conspiracies
  3. Excreable abuse of SCIENCE!!
  4. Main 'character' as thinly disguised alter-ego of author
  5. Hot european chick falls for ageing author bookish don twice her age after her father is mysteriously murdered
  6. Stupidly arcane plot that can only be solved by the self-agrandising author bookish don's obscure knowledge of religious symbology
posted by JustAsItSounds at 7:01 PM on June 15, 2008 [3 favorites]

3. Excreable abuse of SCIENCE SPELLING!!
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:22 PM on June 15, 2008 [2 favorites]

Hilarious review of the Da Vinci Code's opening.

(originally found by dhruva)
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:34 PM on June 15, 2008 [1 favorite]

3. Excreable abuse of SCIENCE SPELLING!!

oh, don't be so 'pendantic'.
posted by JustAsItSounds at 7:46 PM on June 15, 2008

The worst book I ever read all of was The Number of the Beast by Robert Heinlein. Once I saw a housemate reading it and said "Stop right now! I'm warning you, that's the worst book I've ever finished."

"Really?" he said. "This is my third time reading it."
posted by dfan at 8:22 PM on June 15, 2008

Sorry; sometimes I'm a real pederast.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:22 PM on June 15, 2008 [1 favorite]

The worst books I ever read are the attempts of Brian Herbert to cash in Frank Herbert's "Dune".

Yeah, that's near the top of the list to me. As i've said before, he couldn't disrespect his father's memory any more if he hunkered down over his grave and fucked the dirt.
posted by Bookhouse at 8:52 PM on June 15, 2008 [3 favorites]

The worst book I ever read all of was The Number of the Beast by Robert Heinlein.

Ugh, agreed. Utter drek. I know Heinlein has his fans, much as Ganghis khan had his horde, but I could never understand how anyone could like that rambling, bloated carcass of a book. Thankfully I've been warned of Brian Herbert many times already and have managed to avoid his grave-robbing attempts
posted by JustAsItSounds at 9:03 PM on June 15, 2008

Sorry; sometimes I'm a real pederast.

According to MS word, my last name IS pederast... bluddy spellcheek
posted by JustAsItSounds at 9:14 PM on June 15, 2008

The Number of the Beast was flawed, but nowhere near as bad as the books presented in this list. There were some nice subtleties in it; for example, the protagonist is black, but this is only directly referred to late in the book; if you look back through, it's obvious in hindsight.

I wouldn't really recommend it but if I were trapped in a waiting room, I'd be happy to find it.

The Celestine Prophecy was SO bad I couldn't get through any individual page. I skipped to the "prophecy" and found it pointless, bland, and without content. The later Dune books were less badly written, simply endlessly tedious.

As for "Catcher in the Rye" and "The Great Gatsby", well. I suspect you're just being childish to get attention. You might not love these books but the level of craftsmanship displayed is far, far, far above the trashy samples displayed in the post: "Spiers's eyes popped extraneously from their sockets, as his face turned from a deep red to a sickly purple."
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:23 PM on June 15, 2008

lupus: people were talking about the worst books they had read, not the worst books written.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:45 PM on June 15, 2008

Worst book I've ever voluntarily read: The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The worst book? Catcher in the Rye.

Let me guess, you don't read much? I can understand being let down because something is over-hyped or held up to be the pinnacle/classic of the medium. But to full on admit that these are the worst books that you've ever read means that you are seriously lacking in either; variety of books read or taste. Yeah, yeah, opinions are subjective and all that, but seriously worst?

The worst book I've ever read was a sci-fi novel that I don't care to remember the name of. Harlan Ellison had co-wrote the book. I bought it at a bus depot and read it on the bus, since there was absolutley nothing else to do. Another time I do remember trying to read "Splinter ofthe Mind's Eye" and not getting past the first chapter.
posted by P.o.B. at 10:07 PM on June 15, 2008

P.o.B - it's entirely plausible for people to read only from the canon of classics, Nobel & Booker prize winners etc & honestly say that Fitzgerald or Salinger are the worst they have read. If we count only mature-age reading, that is.

Speaking of which...Splinter of the Mind's Eye? *shudders* - I recall reading that as a 10 or 11yo, and even then it sucked dogs' balls.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:50 PM on June 15, 2008

The worst book I ever read all of was The Number of the Beast by Robert Heinlein.

I once heard a theory that NotB was a deliberate experiment by Heinlein to see just how crappy a book he could write, and still sell it to adoring fans. Having succeeded, he then went on to write many more in the same vein (Job, To Sail Beyond the Sunset, Time Enough for Love ...), confident that the cash would keep rolling in.
posted by outlier at 5:50 AM on June 16, 2008

Ah, Job. I remember that. "A Comedy of Justice". Somehow I forced my way through it and even at the moment I finished the last page, when all of the story's details should have been bright and clear in my mind, I had no idea what it was supposed to mean. It didn't become more clear with time, either - I just forgot the few parts which did make sense and all I can recall now, years later, is something about fire walking and dirigibles. And misogyny.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 6:07 AM on June 16, 2008

NO no no. For truly awful writing, you must venture into romance. Desperate for something to read while at a local used bookstore, I grabbed the first vaguely palatable thing that came my way - the cover looked non-cheesy, the blurb on the back wasn't bad ... it received praise from a writer I had ... once liked. Okay, it was supernatural vaguely romance, or so it seemed, but the vaguely, I found out later, was in the wrong place.

I will not name names, only to say that, only halfway through this drek, should I not read yet another variant of the phrase "panty-liquifying" by the end, I shall run off to buy a lottery ticket, in hopes that my lucky streak would continue.
posted by adipocere at 6:44 AM on June 16, 2008

I can't think, offhand, of anything worse than Brown's Angels and Demons, other than self-published or POD stuff. I didn't love The Da Vinci Code but at least I finished it. Angels and Demons just sat there, smelling.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 7:42 AM on June 16, 2008

There's also this piece of shit: The Pleistocene Redemption. (I had to review this, back in '99, and my review is linked to part way down this long, thoughtful dissection of a genuine train-wreck of a book. So I had to read it all, and it was a real effort!)
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 8:01 AM on June 16, 2008

posted by moonlet at 8:56 AM on June 16, 2008

P.o.B: I'm a journalist, and I read a ton, averaging about a book a week. I subscribe to London Review of Books and the Chronicle of Higher Education. It's not that I'm not literate, it's just that my high school teachers had us reading My Antonia and Like Water for Chocolate rather than anything Catcher in the Rye.
posted by parmanparman at 11:13 AM on June 16, 2008

Michael Crichton's Next was shit on a shit salad. It was appallingly bad. It was worse than bad stuff by rightfully unfamous nobodies.

It made me stop and take account of my life and consider writing an open letter of apology to Dan Brown who, for as lousy a piece of writing as The Da Vinci Code was, turns out not to be, after all, the famous guy writing the very worst best-selling popular fiction this decade.
posted by cortex at 11:34 AM on June 16, 2008

Didn't mean to get all high and mighty on you.
I understand your reaction much more than the other statement about Fitzgerald. I suppose a distinction between a dislike for a book and a judgement about the writing would've made it clearer.
I tend to have a knee jerk reaction sometimes to friends of mine who say "Oh, I don't read books." Then in the same breath talk about the movie "Idiocracy"
posted by P.o.B. at 12:07 PM on June 16, 2008

I will not name names

i will - barbara cartland - now that is some godawful, rank writing there
posted by pyramid termite at 1:04 PM on June 16, 2008

You know, maybe it's not the worst book ever, but this line?

Of all the things to think, he never thought he'd think that.

posted by Astro Zombie at 1:16 PM on June 16, 2008

I wonder if it was ghost written by Donald Rumsfeld?
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:39 PM on June 16, 2008

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