So I think we can all agree that 2020 was not the best of years. It certainly wasn’t for me. However, it wasn’t all bad and one of the things that made it better was that I read a lot of good books and a blog post of all my favourite (by that I mean five star) reads will be coming out tomorrow. One of the things that helped contribute to this was me becoming much more liberal in my DNFs. For the past few years I’ve almost religiously tried to finish books once I commit to them (for me, reading the first few pages and deciding not to continue isn’t committing to a book), but this year I finally decided that I just don’t have enough time in life to read through books I’m hating.
So I have begun down the path of Did Not Finish.
And thankfully, there’s a lot fewer books I hated this year than there has been in previous years. However, do not think for a moment that I loved every book I read. Most of the books I read were mediocre, or were fun reads that entertain in the moment but don’t stick longterm and that was ok. At no point during this year did I really feel like diving into some deep literary fiction. But there were a few books I did really strongly dislike and we’re going to get into them now!
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
This was one of those books which made me wonder why I didn’t spend the nineteen hours it took me to listen to this audiobook cleaning the bathroom or sweeping the floor or something. I just did not care about anything in this book at all. Was there a plot? I can’t remember. Was there character growth? I don’t know.
Look, I know this is a favourite of a lot of people, but I really couldn’t get into it. I didn’t care about anything until I got to the climax (which was about the last two hours of the book). I wasn’t interested in the Quidditch World Cup or the Triwizard Tournament and I think Voldemort’s plan was so ridiculously laughable that it was a wonder anyone took him seriously at all.
I was sad about Cedric though 😦
Dogs by Mark Alizart
I think this was a nonfiction book, but it was so incredibly bizarre that I had absolutely no idea what to think about it. It was some kind of philosophical book about dogs and humans and there was something in there about Cain becoming a dog after killing Abel, or something like that and the Egyptians’ dogs protected the Israelites as they left Egypt during the Passover, while citing a Bible passage that has absolutely nothing to do with that???
Basically, this book confused the heck out of me and I think it’s time we move on.
The Orphan‘s Wish by Melanie Dickerson
I wasn’t expecting to love this book, since Dickerson has never been a huge favourite of mine, but this book was a lot worse than I was expecting. I’ve liked several of this author’s older books, though they are historical romances, which isn’t a genre I love, but The Orphan’s Wish honestly read like a published second draft. The characters had no depth, the plot was almost non-existent, the prose was bland and badly written, and there were racist undertones that made me uncomfortable. There was an almost complete erasure of Middle Eastern/Muslim culture, which made me angry. If you don’t want to write a book about Muslim characters, that’s fine with me, but taking a Muslim fairy tale and stripping it of its cultural heritage and using the story as an opportunity to bash Muslim believers over the head with “our God is the only True God!” is in very poor taste. I am Christian, so I do believe our God is the only True God, but do you see where I’m coming from?
Looking through the Goodreads reviews for this book just now makes me realise that a lot of other people feel this way too. And also, I AM NOT saying that if you liked this book you’re a terrible person with bad taste in literature or hard feelings towards Muslims, these were my personal opinions only.
I into my feelings a little more in my Goodreads review
Unravel the Dusk by Elizabeth Lim
This was probably the most disappointing book of the year. I enjoyed Spin the Dawn last year and I was hoping for a strong finale to the duology. Unfortunately, I felt that Unravel the Dusk was mostly unnecessary. I was bored and annoyed through most of it and honestly think that Spin the Dawn would have been better as a standalone.
Having said all that though, I love Lim’s storytelling and prose. She’s also releasing a new novel next year, which is another Chinese fairy tale retelling and I’m so pumped for it and will definitely be reading it, despite my dislike for this book.
Resolution by A.N. Wilson
This book was absolutely awful, there’s no other way to put it. It was a miserable tale of the life of George Forster, a young boy who sailed with his father and Captain Cook on the Resolution, as a naturalist and artist. Only, that’s not what the book is about at all because Forster is actually a middle-aged, sexually repressed husband who’s wife and children hate him and he hates them…
And there’s absolutely no reason to read this book. It’s ridiculous, boring and disgusting. Also, for some reason, Wilson thought it was a good idea to have no quotation marks in this book. Every line of dialogue is just there, in the rest of the text.
It was a nightmare to slog through this book.
When God Writes Your Love Story by Eric and Leslie Ludy
This book is probably the most controversial one on the list as it is beloved by a lot of young Christians. I, however, could not stomach it. My number one issue was just the writing style. It was so extraordinarily vague and condescending. It painted women and men both in broad strokes that apparently everyone adheres to and the writing style felt like it was directed to toddlers. Honestly, I couldn’t work out whether this book was aimed at teenagers or adults and either way it spoke down to them in a way that really rankled me.
Another thing that really got to me was the perpetuation of purity culture. I absolutely believe that the Bible calls us to be faithful to one man or woman and not to have sex outside of marriage, however, this book took it to an extreme level in my opinion. In one chapter, it talks about how to be free of sexual sins and it literally lumps a hypothetical twelve-year-old girl named “Rebecca” who has been raped in with a couple who “accidentally” had sex while engaged. This made me so, so mad. Though the authors made the obligatory “If you were raped its not your fault”, they completely contradicted it by putting this poor girl in the “sexual sins” section of the book and comparing her to a couple who has broken the rules laid out in the Bible, as if it was her fault. For that reason alone, I cannot recommend this book to anyone.
What about you guys? What were some terrible or cringeworthy books you read this year? And what about some good ones? I’ll be sharing my favourite reads tomorrow, so keep a look out for that!