10 Least Favorite Books from 2015

I supposed I should accompany my list of favorite books from 2015 with a list of my least favorite books from 2015.

  1. A Room with a View, E. M. Forster
    • Granted I read this book in a hair salon as I was waiting for my mother, I forgot what this book was about after I finished it. 
  2. The Fall, Albert Camus
    • I just couldn’t get into this one. More difficult than The Stranger, The Fall doesn’t posses the same narrative heft that The Stranger does, making it philosophically denser and unmitigated. 
  3. Notes from Underground, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
    • Another philosophical novel that eludes me. I wanted to get into Dostoyevsky, so I started with this “short” 130-page book. It was the longest 130 pages I’ve read. I’ll read this one, and Camus’s The Fall, again when I have a more sophisticated mind and/or a better taste for existentialism.
  4. Paterson, William Carlos Williams
    • My experience reading Paterson reminded me of my first experience reading “The Waste Land”: basically, wondering, “What is going on?” (Grateful for teachers.) There were some sections of this book-length poem that I liked, though my inability to appreciate the whole made it hard for me to like the poem overall.
  5. The Sound of Waves, Yukio Mishima
    • I (provisionally) blame this one on the translation. The plot drew me, but the patchiness of the prose (translation) prevented me from enjoying the story. I read The Sound of Waves as an introduction to Mishima’s work with the intention of then moving to his masterwork, The Sea of Fertility tetralogy. I haven’t given up on Mishima, though my experience reading The Sound of Waves has lowered Mishima on my list of books to read. 
  6. Monsieur Pain, Roberto Bolaño
    • I discovered Roberto Bolaño during my sophomore year, and read a string of great books written by him (Amulet, By Night in Chile, Distant Star, Last Evenings on Earth, The Savage Detectives, A Little Lumpen Novelita, 2666), so when I read Monsieur Pain I was disappointed. I never felt a sense of the narrative or of the characters while reading the novel. Admittedly, Monsieur Pain is not one of Bolaño’s popular books.
  7. The Woman in the Dunes, Kobo Abe
    • Maybe it is a translation issue with these Japanese works, because I had the same issue reading The Woman in the Dunes that I had reading The Sound of Waves. The plot is intriguing: a man is held captive in a house at the bottom of a sand dune and spends his days shoveling sand. However, despite the promise of its premise, I couldn’t get into the story, which is written in an artificially translated prose.
  8. The Sea, John Banville
    • I had high expectations for this novel, given the stature of its author and the fact that it won the Man Booker Prize. That said, I did not dislike the novel, though I didn’t care much for it. My lukewarm response to the book was drawn out because of the hype it got and because I spent $15 on it. 
  9. My Happy Life, Lydia Millet
    • An underwhelming book in my estimation. Not altogether bad, but what could otherwise have been a compelling story is undermined by language that’s mild at best. 
  10. All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr
    • Yes, it won the Pulitzer Prize, but there’s something about a writer who writes, “She wakes to Madame Manec… climbing to the third floor the fourth the fifth” (instead of writing “climbing to the fifth floor” or “climbing the stairs”) and repeats this technique every fifty pages that irks me. I know Marie-Laure is blind, but this over-repetition becomes tiresome quickly.