Worst/Overrated books.

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Postby Amnesiasoft » Wed Sep 05, 2007 3:55 pm UTC

Jesster wrote:Like many of Orwell's books, the message and idea behind it is throught-provoking and terrifying, but I'm not a huge fan of his writing style.

Thought provoking? Sure. Terrifying? Hardly.

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Postby Jesse » Wed Sep 05, 2007 5:17 pm UTC

I find the idea of the loss of free thought pretty terrifying.

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Postby Mighty Jalapeno » Wed Sep 05, 2007 5:22 pm UTC

Jesster wrote:I find the idea of the loss of free thought pretty terrifying.

We're a minority, sadly.

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Postby zenten » Wed Sep 05, 2007 7:36 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:Moby Dick.

This would probably be a lot better in a more relevant time. A time when man went out to sea in wooden sailing vessels to hunt whales.

Nowadays.... not so much.


YES!

I do not need a 50 page essay on how whales are fish (I stopped reading during said essay).

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Postby Amnesiasoft » Thu Sep 06, 2007 12:13 am UTC

Jesster wrote:I find the idea of the loss of free thought pretty terrifying.

It has its pros and cons like anything else :P

To be honest, it would already seem like the majority of people are lacking free thought already anyway. Most of the time it feels like people only do things because of societal norms anyway. Sure you aren't going to be starved and beaten until you see things societies way, but there certainly seem to be a lot of people who are too insecure to go against what society has set forth as normal. That's why I don't exactly find it terrifying is because we live around people like that every day anyway. I would almost argue that it's actually worse than anything Orwell thought of. Instead of only 15% of the population having their freedom to express themselves, it's a larger portion.

And to clarify, I'm not saying that 1984 sucked, more of an it's overrated thing. (Like Harry Potter and the Bible)

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Postby une see » Thu Sep 06, 2007 1:07 am UTC

CATCHER IN THE FUCKING RYE. What a waste of time. And now I have to read it again this year, in school, which basically guarantees that I'm going to like it even less than I already did.

Also, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius may or may not have gotten better afterwards, but I definitely don't think it lives up to its title. Because I started it, and...never really got past the first few pages.

I liked To Kill a Mockingbird, though. :( And Life of Pi...I think. Although I don't really remember it too well, just that there was a tiger and the protagonist got stuck at sea with said tiger, and there was some hanky panky going on between the two...or something like that. Oh, and there was religion! And flashbacks and stuff. And cannibalism? I remember cannibalism. Yeah, and they killed the cook because of some reason. To eat? Along those lines.

But I think we should change the title of this topic. Because although some books may be overrated, they are certainly not the worst books ever. Case in point: Harry Potter. Overrated, but quite good for entertainment value.
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Postby podbaydoor » Thu Sep 06, 2007 3:35 am UTC

une see wrote:CATCHER IN THE FUCKING RYE. What a waste of time. And now I have to read it again this year, in school, which basically guarantees that I'm going to like it even less than I already did.


YES.
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Postby liza » Thu Sep 06, 2007 5:42 am UTC

I too hated Catcher in the Rye. I failed to see what all the hoopla was about. Teenage years are supposed to be the prime time to read it - I read it at fifteen and was unimpressed. It just felt shallow to me.

And I second the Scarlet Letter. I liked the story, but the prose was painful. I hated the character of Pearl. Everything she did felt heavy-handed on the author's part.
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Postby gmalivuk » Thu Sep 06, 2007 4:11 pm UTC

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Postby Narsil » Thu Sep 06, 2007 8:28 pm UTC

liza wrote:And I second the Scarlet Letter. I liked the story, but the prose was painful. I hated the character of Pearl. Everything she did felt heavy-handed on the author's part.
Exactly. And I hate how in an English class, they assume that each word was meticulously chosen to form perfect metaphors.

SOMETIMES A FUCKING FOREST CAN JUST BE A MOTHERFUCKING FOREST.
Not everything needs to be a symbol of Hester and her blah and blah blah...
Spoiler:
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Oh... that.

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Postby Bakemaster » Thu Sep 06, 2007 8:42 pm UTC

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Postby Severus Severance » Thu Sep 06, 2007 9:55 pm UTC

Seconding, "Sometimes it's just a fucking forest!"

Jesus. This drives me nuts, because as an aspiring writer, I certainly don't make every goddamn thing represent something.

Sometimes the sex scenes are just two characters getting it on, not some bullshit about the loss of innocence or a metaphor for some war. It's sex. Not a metaphor. Sex.

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Postby Narsil » Thu Sep 06, 2007 10:29 pm UTC

THANK YOU. It sickened me to see absolute idiots in my class getting points for comparing every goddamn word to Hester and Dimmesdale and forgiveness and something.
Spoiler:
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Postby Jesse » Thu Sep 06, 2007 10:32 pm UTC

I totally disagree, I posit that even though you are not doing it consciously your subconscious mind is implanting the metaphors without you noticing.

To be honest, I love it because I'm really good at it. I often do it when people question the things I write, I just quickly bullshit an answer as to why it's a metaphor for something, and English Literature taught me how to do it.

Also, I got an A for explaining why Ian McEwan's Enduring Love is really about piracy, because I backed it up with seven key passages in the book.

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Postby grim4593 » Fri Sep 07, 2007 3:48 am UTC

I disliked most books I had to read in an English class. To be honest, most books really were not bad, however I hated spending hours in class analyzing every god damned word trying to pull out meaning that was never there. One time I had to write a 5 page paper about a single paragraph in a book and all the supposed "hidden meaning" it contained. BS 101. When I write stuff I don't hide hidden meaning into my works, and I am sure that other people don't either. Yes, emotion and circumstance can be unconsciously reflected into a work of art. However, not every word in a book will be dripping with this hidden content.

Overrated books:
The Catcher in the Rye. Yes, it was a good book, however I fail to see why its considered a masterpiece. Most people go through similar hardships as a teen, a fictional account is just redundant.

To the Lighthouse. I had to read this in a college lit course. The teacher was in love with the book and it just made me hate it more. The book had no plot, it was all about the thoughts and emotions running through either characters heads, and it did not signal when it was jumping from one character into another. This caused rereading of many passages, and eventually I gave up and passed the test guessing so to speak.

Asimov's Foundation Series. These books were incredibly boring. The plot was predetermined, and anyone could have guessed what was going to happen after reading the first chapter of any of the three books. It was like a mystery sci-fi in that you knew the ending and had to deduce how it would reach its end. To be honest, the only reason I actually finished reading the series was because I heard so many great things about the books. I was disappointed.

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Postby podbaydoor » Fri Sep 07, 2007 6:02 am UTC

Invisible Man (the Ralph Ellison one).

It suffers from the same problem as the one everyone's complaining about for Scarlet Letter. I was pretty much highlighting every noun and adverb that showed up because I knew we were going to be quizzed on its metaphorical/allegorical/what-have-you significance. Sometimes a bucket of paint is just a goddamned bucket of paint. Also the ending makes no sense. People don't just conveniently hide in inescapable basements during riots and not come out for the next couple of years, they deal with the messy aftermath and move on with life, carrying their scars. (Unless you're a METAPHOR PERSONIFIED!)
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Postby Bakemaster » Fri Sep 07, 2007 6:32 am UTC

grim4593 wrote:Asimov's Foundation Series. These books were incredibly boring. The plot was predetermined, and anyone could have guessed what was going to happen after reading the first chapter of any of the three books. It was like a mystery sci-fi in that you knew the ending and had to deduce how it would reach its end. To be honest, the only reason I actually finished reading the series was because I heard so many great things about the books. I was disappointed.

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Postby Malice » Fri Sep 07, 2007 7:09 am UTC

grim4593 wrote:Overrated books:
The Catcher in the Rye. Yes, it was a good book, however I fail to see why its considered a masterpiece. Most people go through similar hardships as a teen, a fictional account is just redundant.


Yes, I agree. No novel should attempt to describe real life, that would be redundant. We should only have novels about the future!

grim4593 wrote:Asimov's Foundation Series.


Shit.

---

Personally, I love Catcher in the Rye. It's a very powerfully emotional book; and even though it is a story about adolescence, it treats its subject matter in a very original way. It takes place in a different time period than most books (and especially most books about teenagers); and its main character has a different take on life than most main characters in the genre.

One of the main reasons it's considered a masterpiece is because of Holden's deep characterization, and the colloquial first-person voice, the way Salinger really puts you inside his head.
And the writing's just beautiful, too.

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Postby zenten » Fri Sep 07, 2007 2:30 pm UTC

Jesster wrote:I totally disagree, I posit that even though you are not doing it consciously your subconscious mind is implanting the metaphors without you noticing.

To be honest, I love it because I'm really good at it. I often do it when people question the things I write, I just quickly bullshit an answer as to why it's a metaphor for something, and English Literature taught me how to do it.

Also, I got an A for explaining why Ian McEwan's Enduring Love is really about piracy, because I backed it up with seven key passages in the book.


Even if that's true, many people have different sets of metaphors, which cannot be deduced from just reading the book.

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Postby Jesse » Fri Sep 07, 2007 2:39 pm UTC

Zenten, I was actually joking with my opening statement, that's why I followed it with "To be honest".

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Postby bigglesworth » Fri Sep 07, 2007 5:10 pm UTC

Foundation series: One of the few books i have read a few pages and given up on.

Another book I thought was overrated was Earth Abides. I've already read Day of the Triffids, this seems like a long-winded American version.
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Postby zenten » Fri Sep 07, 2007 5:10 pm UTC

Jesster wrote:Zenten, I was actually joking with my opening statement, that's why I followed it with "To be honest".


Ah. Lots of people just put that in front of statements when they're saying something about themselves.

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Postby Severus Severance » Fri Sep 07, 2007 7:53 pm UTC

I must admit I sort of lied... I've found symbolism in things I write, but I can't tell if it's because of high school English class or actually symbolism.

Fail.

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Postby Jesse » Fri Sep 07, 2007 10:29 pm UTC

I support the subconscious idea to a point. Often I will read back through my work and see themes and metaphors that realte to my state of mind at the time, without realising that I put them there.

But the way I was taught literary analysis wasn't "What did the author put in?" but instead "What can we take from this?" so it is how you interpret the ideas. To the autor it may have been just a forest, but to you it could be a god or whatever.

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Postby SecondTalon » Fri Sep 07, 2007 10:33 pm UTC

It could be the way that I (and apparently others) were taught symbolism in Literature... that the Authors were intentionally leaving symbolic clues for everything, so that a short story about a lonely man going to town once a month for supplies and growing fond of a woman, only to have her die as they're just heading out on their first date becomes the Author's take on Capitalism and Communism in 1910s Russia, simply because the Author was Polish and wrote it in 1916.*

And the English teacher in question is seeing this shit. Meanwhile, I'm seeing a story about isolation, reaching out to another human, and irony. (Man afraid of connecting for fear of getting hurt, man connects, proceeds to nurture the relationship and.. gets hurt, just not how he expected. Actually, beats me if this is irony.)

*Note: I have no idea if this story written by a Polish guy in 1916 exists.
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Postby Nero » Sat Sep 08, 2007 3:43 am UTC

Anything by Jane Austen. I mean seriously, I can sum up her books like this "I love him, I hate him, I love him, oh he's so rich"

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Postby grim4593 » Sat Sep 08, 2007 8:35 am UTC

It is out of character for me, but I liked Pride and Prejudice. I have no idea how that happened: I was fighting the story all the way through, and when I got to the end I discovered I enjoyed it. Of course, I never would have read the book if it were not required in my literature class...

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Postby Pebbles » Sat Sep 08, 2007 11:00 am UTC

SecondTalon wrote:It could be the way that I (and apparently others) were taught symbolism in Literature... that the Authors were intentionally leaving symbolic clues for everything, so that a short story about a lonely man going to town once a month for supplies and growing fond of a woman, only to have her die as they're just heading out on their first date becomes the Author's take on Capitalism and Communism in 1910s Russia, simply because the Author was Polish and wrote it in 1916.*

And the English teacher in question is seeing this shit. Meanwhile, I'm seeing a story about isolation, reaching out to another human, and irony. (Man afraid of connecting for fear of getting hurt, man connects, proceeds to nurture the relationship and.. gets hurt, just not how he expected. Actually, beats me if this is irony.)

*Note: I have no idea if this story written by a Polish guy in 1916 exists.


I completely agree. In school environments you are not encouraged to analyse the text and come to your own conclusions about its meaning, you are told by the teacher what everything means and if your essay at the end of term doesnt reflect what the teacher has been saying all term.. you FAIL. Which to me, completely misses the point of analysing anything. I know that isnt really what you were saying, but its what I took from it.
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Postby Jesse » Sat Sep 08, 2007 11:20 am UTC

Ah see, in the UK our system is much better. In the exam you can say what you like, as long as your ideas are backed up by quoted passages from the book then you are A-OK.

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Postby SecondTalon » Sat Sep 08, 2007 2:11 pm UTC

Yeah.. agree with the educator, or fail. That's how High School level stuff is, at least in my limited experience.

Except on the rare occasions where you're allowed to do your own thing. Friend of mine did a paper on Captain Ahab as a Christ Analog. Don't remember what he made, but he did it to fuck with the teacher.

This was the same teacher where, if you wanted a day off, you only had to casually mention Lord of the Flies, then ignore her as she ranted and raved for the rest of the class period.
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Postby davis » Sat Sep 08, 2007 3:15 pm UTC

Narsil wrote:Exactly. And I hate how in an English class, they assume that each word was meticulously chosen to form perfect metaphors.

SOMETIMES A FUCKING FOREST CAN JUST BE A MOTHERFUCKING FOREST.
Not everything needs to be a symbol of Hester and her blah and blah blah...

No, it is not just a motherfucking forest. It's clearly significant as being outside the boundaries of Puritan society, where witches supposedly congregate, demonstrating how the Puritans view this freedom as wicked, and where Hester and Dimmesdale can speak. Hawthorne didn't have to be thinking "the forest will represent freedom, I hope they figure that out", and he probably wasn't thinking that, but it does. It's not a subconscious metaphor, as one poster suggested, it's just that to escape the strict Puritan society things had to happen in the forest, and that is important and worth pointing out in English class. When you talk about something like that in English class, don't think about it as some kind of code you're interpreting, because it rarely is, and I'm sorry you've had teachers that have given you that impression. Things like that don't have to be conscious decisions by the author to communicate a specific thing for them to be important and worth discussing and calling a symbol.

I say rarely because if you're going to say that supposed symbols and metaphors in novels should generally be taken at face value, don't use Hawthorne as an example. He did litter the Scarlet Letter with deliberate metaphors. I remember chapter seven, when they visit the governor's mansion, was particularly loaded with them (the garden, Pearl asking for the sunshine, etc.)

I didn't like the Scarlet Letter.

EDIT: I don't know why I put it that way, deliberate, meaningful symbols aren't rare. They're not ubiquitous, and not every author is going to think about their work like that, and you can't think everything you talk about in English class is something the author deliberately worked in, but it's not like symbolism and allegory and using one thing as a representation of many things isn't something people do.
Last edited by davis on Fri Sep 14, 2007 2:11 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby william » Sat Sep 08, 2007 3:50 pm UTC

Bakemaster wrote:
Amnesiasoft wrote:1984. That book was just ridiculous. And anyone who was scared of a future like that obviously didn't take note of the fact that the people were only opressing themselves. The proles basically got to do whatever they wanted, and they made up 85% of the population (If I remember the book correctly)

You do realize you gon' get stabbed for that opinion, right? There's no way to say this that is not condescending, but maybe you should read it again when you're no longer a teenager.

1984 is incredibly irrelevant, honestly. It reached the peak of its relevance in the 50s.

Also, the only people I know who have said anything good about the Scarlet Letter are teachers, and I think they've been brainwashed.
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Postby dumbclown » Sat Sep 08, 2007 5:33 pm UTC

The Hot Zone, this has to be one of the crappiest books I have ever read.

Lord of the Rings, a real page skipper in that you can skip ten pages and they are still prancing around a forest or talking about how they are vertically challenged.

Saga of the Exiles. Overly descriptive, it is like reading a art critics review of a finger painting done by a baby. They moved they're lower limbs back in forth in a scissor like matter as quickly as they possibly could or you could say they ran.

The Coral Island. I have a feeling that Ballantyne wrote this book to get revenge on a coral island for not raping him.

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Postby Jesse » Sat Sep 08, 2007 6:10 pm UTC

william wrote:
Bakemaster wrote:
Amnesiasoft wrote:1984. That book was just ridiculous. And anyone who was scared of a future like that obviously didn't take note of the fact that the people were only opressing themselves. The proles basically got to do whatever they wanted, and they made up 85% of the population (If I remember the book correctly)

You do realize you gon' get stabbed for that opinion, right? There's no way to say this that is not condescending, but maybe you should read it again when you're no longer a teenager.

1984 is incredibly irrelevant, honestly. It reached the peak of its relevance in the 50s.


Because the loss of freedoms to our government is definitely irrelevant in a day and age where we have given up the legal right to free trial.

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Postby krick » Sun Sep 09, 2007 2:30 am UTC

Harry Potter, mostly for the reasons already stated. I like it, but it's just a children's series that got way out of hand.

Lord of the Flies
I couldn't get through this. I gave up about halfway through.

Eragon / Eldest
I enjoyed the first one a couple years ago. When I picked up the second one last year, I just didn't really enjoy it. I returned it to the library without finishing it. Maybe I've been disillusioned with fantasy.

The over analyzing making up symbolism thing bothers me too. Looks like I'm going to have to invent crap a lot this year in english. We've every day of the first week talking about what the yellow paper symbolizes for Tom in Contents of the Dead Man's Pockets by Jack Finney.

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Postby Nath » Sun Sep 09, 2007 3:43 am UTC

Shakespeare. At least the stuff that I've read. Shakespeare is to literature what Citizen Kane is to movies: innovative, influential, but frankly not very interesting any more.

Oliver Twist. Readable, but cartoonishly unsubtle. Not all that relevant to people who don't live in 19th century London. I don't live in 19th century London.

Neuromancer. Presumably those ideas were revolutionary when the book was written, but I thought that this was a terrible book.

A lot of classic science fiction is somewhat overrated. The ideas are almost always brilliant, but the writing usually isn't very good. Also, many characters are unconvincing.

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Postby Belial » Sun Sep 09, 2007 7:56 am UTC

Yarr...I must not ban people based on their blasphemy against St. Gibson. That would be wrong.
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Postby Jesse » Sun Sep 09, 2007 7:56 am UTC

Belial wrote:Yarr...I must not ban people based on their blasphemy against St. Gibson. That would be wrong.


But it would feel so very, very right.

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Postby Amicitia » Sun Sep 09, 2007 8:33 am UTC

Jesster wrote:Ah see, in the UK our system is much better. In the exam you can say what you like, as long as your ideas are backed up by quoted passages from the book then you are A-OK.

In the U.S., essays soundly backed with reason and wit and excellent prose are highly acclaimed. It's only the fools and charlatans who would posit that a well-written essay will do badly--in any industrialized country, and many poor countries, this is what is called bullshit.

People who spout nonsense about having to force meaning or symbolism out of a book or essay are clearly misunderstanding writing; evincing one's claims on a work through stylistic effects--and even quotations--is rarely discouraged.

I think the UK would have a sounder educational system if they boasted less, and improved it sometimes, as numerous parts are in dire need of repair. I never had any of these problems in an English class, I saw them only in the remedial classes at my school.

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Postby Malice » Sun Sep 09, 2007 9:47 am UTC

dumbclown wrote:Lord of the Rings, a real page skipper in that you can skip ten pages and they are still prancing around a forest or talking about how they are vertically challenged.


I feel sorry for people who lack the ability to appreciate subtelty, lyricism, and pacing. I really do.


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