5 Required Reading Books I Hated

Hey guys! Welcome to another blog post. This one is the companion to the one I did a couple of weeks ago, where I talked about 5 books I read for school that I loved (if you’re interested in reading that post, you can click here to go to it.)

I debated for a long time about whether or not I wanted to actually do this post, because I want this blog to be a positive place. I spend most of my time on this blog talking about books I love, or getting excited about new bookish events that are happening, and that’s what I like. I like talking about the things I love. A post like this is a tad outside of my comfort zone (I guess that’s just a theme for this week, though—Tuesday’s post was also something a little different from the stuff I normally write).

Because of all that, I’m going to preface this by saying that none of these books are books that I truly hated. I don’t think I have ever read a book that I legitimately hated—that’s why all of my star ratings on Goodreads and here are 3 stars or above. To me, 1 and 2 star ratings are reserved for books that I really hate, and I can’t recall a time where I have ever felt that passionate about my dislike for a book.

Really, I should probably have titled this post, “5 Required Reading Books I Disliked or Felt Meh About,” but that’s not nearly as compelling. Anyway, let’s just get into the books. These are in no particular order.

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David’s Story by Zoë Wicomb

I read this book last semester in the class Non-Western World Literature and, well… it was all kinds of confusing. It’s about South Africa after the end of Apartheid, and this one man named David who is trying to figure out who his family is. It’s intentionally told in a nonlinear way, which would be fine—nonlinear storytelling is awesome. But there were no dialogue tags or quotation marks, or anything else that would indicate when someone is talking, and conversations weren’t always (or even usually) split into different paragraphs. Oftentimes it was hard to tell if someone was talking or if that was just description, or if someone new started talking.

I spent most of my time reading this book just being utterly confused about pretty much everything that happened. I know that all the weirdness in this book was done on purpose. The point of the book is that it’s supposed to be kind of stream of consciousness, nonlinear. But it was just too much for me, personally.

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1984 by George Orwell

This one is a weird one, because I liked one of George Orwell’s other books, Animal Farm, which I also read in school, relatively well. I actually almost included it on the companion list to this one. This book, though… it had some adult themes and scenes that made me, as a sophomore in high school, uncomfortable (and would probably still make me uncomfortable as a junior in college—some things never change). It was also just really disturbing, especially toward the end, and the ending…

Warning: SPOILERS. Skip to the next book if you haven’t read the book and you care about being spoiled.

I didn’t like how negative the ending was. I prefer for my dystopian novels to end on a happy note (or at least an okay note—I want them to overthrow the evil government and start working toward a better world). This one didn’t. The main character basically goes insane, and the government is still in control. The end was just… so hard for me to read.

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The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Honestly, I think part of my problem with this book was not the book itself but the class I read it in. I didn’t really like the teacher and that negatively colored my view of most of the things that we studied in that class. When I first started reading this book, I liked it. Or, at least, I was interested in it. Then partway through the book, I lost interest and it just got boring. I didn’t really care about the characters or what was happening to them. I thought one of the characters, Pearl, was just… unsettling, in general. Overall, it was just an okay book. I wouldn’t read it again, but I guess I’m glad to have read it just so I can say I’ve read it.

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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

This is another situation where I think I would have liked this book a lot better if it hadn’t been for the class itself. I read this book in the same class that I read The Scarlet Letter in, and the teacher had us skip over parts of the book, which I hated. The book itself, from what I remember of it, was fine. It wasn’t great, at least to me, but it was fine. I haven’t ever actually read the entirety of this book because the teacher thought it would be a good idea to skip over certain sections that she deemed “irrelevant.” Once again, my annoyance about that colored my opinion of this book. Maybe someday I’ll reread the book, in its entirety this time, and I’ll like it better. For right now, though, it’s on this list.

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Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

I had to read this book during the summer before my senior year of high school, and it took me ages to get through because it was just really boring to me. I feel like that’s repetitive, but the thing is that to me, a lot of classics are just boring, or confusing. I know that’s probably blasphemous to say, since I’m a writing major, and I’m supposed to love fine literature. I do, though—I just have a different definition of what “fine literature” is than most people probably do.  

This book did have its moments, where I was legitimately engaged, but for the most part, I was just slogging through it, and I didn’t like it in the end.

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That’s all for today’s post, guys! Let me know down in the comments some books you read in school that you hated. And if you’ve read and loved any of the books on this list, let me know that, too. These are just my personal opinions and just because I feel this way doesn’t mean you are wrong for feeling differently. We’re all friends here.

Thanks for reading! I’ll see you next time!

-Ariel

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