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Worst books of 2016

We recently posted our top 10 list of books published in 2016. This week we’re letting you in on our least favorite reads of 2016. I do feel kind of bad listing a worst of 2016 list however, this list is subjective and really just a reflection on which books we read during 2016 (not necessarily those published in 2016) that we didn’t particularly enjoy or with which we didn’t really connect. Many of these books will be ones that lots of readers love. What do you think or our list?

Book Worm’s List: The first 5 books are ones I really could not get on with while the last 5 are books I didn’t hate but that were disappointing in some way.

  1. The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher – This was a collection of short stories and need I say it was not the one to change my mind, I still really dislike short stories.
  2. August is a Wicked Month Edna O’Brien – full of dull unlikeable characters, sex seems to be the whole point of life even when its unwanted. Rape is a conversation subject to amuse others and Ellen just cannot seem to refuse men.
  3. The Last September – this book was soooo boring I wished it had ended in August.
  4. The Charterhouse of Parma – like August is a Wicked month this time with male central character instead of female
  5. The Brothers Karamozov – this was really dull and I struggled to finish it. I know a lot of people really loved but I just couldn’t.
  6. A God In Ruins Kate Atkinson – after Life After Life I was expecting some sort of tie in or at least the same magical feeling but nope this book just left me feeling flat.
  7. Smoke – Like Jen says this promised so much and then failed to deliver.
  8. All that Man Is – all I can say is I really hope this is not all that man is, and based on the men in my life it isn’t which is a huge relief.
  9. Vinegar Girl Anne Tyler – This was a Shakespeare retold book and Tyler had said up front that she basically hated Shakespeare and this really came across in her updated work. This could have been so much more with the right treatment.
  10. Hystopia David Means – I know lots of people love this but I found it to be very confusing with no real payoff for getting to the end.


Jen’s List: My list will probably make me fairly unpopular since I have included some books that made it onto top ten lists and several well-loved classics.

  1. All that Man is by David Szalay: This is a book that made lots of top ten lists this year and I hated it with a passion. Granted, I concede that it was brilliantly written prose but I found the content repetitive and simplistic. I’ll probably get the most grief for listing this in my least favorite list.
  2. Rabbit, Run by John Updike. A classic that so many love and I hated. I found it misogynistic and tedious to read. Definitely not my type of book
  3. Winter People . Predictable and rather silly. I read this for one of my book clubs. None of us loved it. The beginning was okay but it was all downhill for me from there.
  4. Serious Sweet: I didn’t hate this book (unlike the first three) and in fact I loved parts of it. Other parts however, read a little bit like chick-lit (one of my least favorite genres) and was simply a book that I didn’t enjoy overall.
  5. Choke by Palahniuk: This was a brilliantly written book but made my list because I found it distasteful. At times I found myself feeling guilty for laughing at certain parts. It’s a good book but just one my sort of book.
  6. Addison Cooke and the Treasure of the Incas: Okay, to be fair I knew I wouldn’t like it before I read it. It’s a kids book so not intended for me. That said, I thought it was ridiculous. I occasionally read children’s books to create a book library for my daughter as she gets older. This will not go in that library.
  7. Smoke: Another book that made some top 10 lists that makes my bottom 10 list. Ugh, it had so much promise but failed to deliver for me. You can read that review here.
  8. Excellent Women: So sorry, I know people love Pym. I found this dreadfully boring.
  9. Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid. This book was all kinds of stupid. Interesting plot but convoluted and absurd. I felt highly irritated throughout the entire book.
  10. The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth McKenzie: I love squirrels. I did not love this book. Some parts were overly dramatic (the big evil corporation, etc.). Overall this was a 3-star read for me but it makes the list because I am out of books I really disliked. It probably doesn’t deserve to be on here.

Well, there you have it. What do you think of our lists? Which ones do you agree with? Which ones are we crazy to have included in our lists and why? Which were your least favorite books read in 2016?

21 Comments Post a comment
  1. As ever, each to their own. Bookworm – The Brothers K … I read it yonks ago and struggled mightily. so can identify. Jen : Palahniuk – I tried one of his bks – can’t remember which – & it defo wasn’t to my taste. the remainder of your lists: not read by me.
    I think you’re entitled to publish your 10 Worst – we’re up to our ears in 2016 Best Lists at the moment, so your list provides a balance.


    December 22, 2016
  2. I loved Choke, but Jen – You are a genuinely goodhearted person so I can see why you didn’t like it and it just makes me want to hug you.


    December 22, 2016
    • Ha ha! I will take hugs. So Choke was an interesting one for me. I found parts hilarious and there’s something about his style that I like (perhaps the irreverent style of tackling themes). That said, some of the graphic imagery was just too much for me. I think I’d like be be the author’s friend because he’s probably great fun (and brilliant). I just don’t want the imagery from his books inside my head 🙂


      December 22, 2016
  3. aprazar #

    Jen, couldn’t agree more re: your first two picks. My thoughts on “All That Man Is” are well-known and I also found “Rabbit, Run” to be unlikeable. There seems to be a genre of books that expects us to pity and sympathize with misogynistic men who are brought down by their own hubris/stupidity. I don’t get it. I did like “Choke,” but remember, I’m kind of a jerk.

    Liked by 2 people

    December 22, 2016
  4. My ten worst:
    1. Zero K – sorry Bookworm but ughh how I hated this book. Looking back I think I only gave White Noise three stars so I guess I am not destined to get along with Don Delillo, which is a shame because Underworld is sitting on my bookshelf.
    2. Rabbit Run – ditto what Jen said
    3. Pilgrim’s Progress – exceedingly tedious
    4. The Ravishing of Lol Stein – exceeding tedious in a more continental style
    5. Dark Places – Gillian Flynn – creepy and not in a good way
    6. The High Mountains of Portugal – mostly an incoherent mess
    7. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas – overrated, sort of a softer kid-friendly version of the Holocaust and obviously that is a tightrope that it would take a hell of a writer to walk without being offensive
    8. Rip-tide Ultra Glide – read because I had run out of Hiaasens and a friend recommended Dorsey. Tim Dorsey is NO Carl Hiaasen
    9. On the Eve – Turgenev – I keep trying the Russians and I keep being mostly underwhelmed
    10. The Shining – I hadn’t attempted a King since disliking whichever bestseller I had tried as a teenager. When this was a 1001 BOM selection I decided to try again. I couldn’t wait for that damn boiler to blow.

    Liked by 1 person

    December 22, 2016
    • I do like Russian classic authors and I like On the Eve. Interesting list. I agree with half and then am horrified by others that made your list (that I liked or loved). Love that we can have such different feelings about books


      December 22, 2016
      • I think that I am overly influenced by hype for books and if they don’t impress me I end up feeling negatively about something I might have mildly liked if I didn’t have high expectations going in.

        I’m not completely ready to give up on the Russians. Though I’ve never been able to penetrate far into a Dostoevsky I have some Gogol on my kindle that has been taunting me for a while.


        December 23, 2016
  5. I LOVE worst of lists, they are so much more interesting than best of lists.

    Liked by 1 person

    December 22, 2016
  6. I apologize. I accidentally scheduled this post for today but didn’t let Book Worm finish updating her list before it was posted. I forgotten to go in and change the scheduled date and was on a plane when it posted.

    Hopefully BW gets around to updating her worst list although she is currently under the weather


    December 22, 2016
    • Book Worm #

      Hi All, well I have finally managed to venture back to the computer after at least 3 days of feeling dreadful (thank you hubbie, sharing is good but not when its man flu!) and I have updated my top 10 worst books 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      December 23, 2016
  7. Awww, I really liked Winter People!


    December 22, 2016
    • I think you and I generally tend to like opposite types of books so I”m not surprised. Your top ten worst reads would probably be some of my favorites 🙂


      December 23, 2016
  8. Oh, Winter People was bad? That’s been on my tbr pile since forever…guess I won’t be in a hurry to read it now.


    December 23, 2016
  9. No argument from my corner about your selection of All that Man Is. I am still baffled by its inclusion in the Booker longlist because for me it was just a selection of sketches that hadn’t been fully realised into a cohesive novel.


    December 23, 2016
  10. Tracy S #

    I’m going to be avoiding a few (Smoke and All That Man Is)!
    I agree about Pym and Bowen- I read two books by each of them this year, and was not impressed. Jean Rhys’ books would make a trifecta- I read two duds by her, too. But she’s off my 1001 list now.
    My least favorite had to be Rabbit, Run. Don’t care if Updike was a genius. He makes Hemingway look like a feminist.
    Although The Atlantis Gene was pretty awful.


    December 24, 2016
    • Hah! I think you are on to something. I recently read Hemingway and for the first time ever he didn’t raise all my feminist hackles. Thanks for desensitizing me Updike!


      December 24, 2016
      • Tracy S #



        December 24, 2016
  11. Anita #

    I really only had three books I really disliked . . .though I could go a lot further if I included books that were just meh. But the ones I actively disliked were:

    House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski – – Dull, contrived, convoluted, and personally, I didn’t even find it particularly scary. Worst off, it was long. My least favorite read of the year by a longshot.

    LaRose by Louise Erdrich – – This book is well written, but emotionally, I just couldn’t connect with any of the characters. I can see other people loving it. It made several “Best of” lists this year.

    The Lady and the Van and Other Stories — The other stories were much better than the titular story, but what wrecked this book was a terrible introduction where we were given a blow by blow of the making of the movie. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Books That Were Hyped That I Really Didn’t Get the Appeal and Thought Were Merely Okay:

    The Sellout by Paul Beatty – – I know, I know, I’m sorry . . .
    My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante – – Something is wrong with me.
    The Nest – – I feel this one is defensible at least
    The Underground Railroad – – Enjoyed reading this one, but there’s almost no character development, and I couldn’t see why it made EVERY SINGLE 2016 Best of List


    December 25, 2016
  12. Choke and Vinegar Girl are both memorably awful. Love this post!


    December 26, 2016

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