Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Top 11 Stinkers of 2015

I realize this is probably a very Scrooge-like (I can use that reference in good conscience now that I've read A Christmas Carol) thing to do. But at the end of every year everyone puts out a Top Ten List of their best reads. I do too, of course, and I look forward to doing it all year. And I love looking at other folks' Top Tens. But no one ever talks about the books that wasted their time during the year.

I don't like to be negative for the sake of being negative, and that's not what this list is. Consider it a holiday present to you in case you're thinking about adding any of these to your 2016 book list. You're welcome.

This is a completely arbitrary list of books that swung and missed this year. I realize some people love some of these books. I didn't. They weren't particularly poorly written, either. But I can't help it, I have to be honest.

First up, A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg. About halfway through this book, I realized I'd probably read it before, but it left no lasting memory. Even now, I don't remember what it was about, and it hasn't been a whole year since I re-read it.

I'm nearly convinced that there are two Bill Brysons writing books nowadays. One--the one I adore--wrote One Summer: America, 1927, and the one who wrote this book and dozens of goofy, boring travel books. And yet, I read them all because I'm unsure which Bryson I'm getting.

I don't know why I picked this up other than everyone else seemed to be reading it at the time. I don't like books about illness and phobias, so I had no business reading this. It's my own fault that it's on my list.

Okay. This book. This book that the whole world anticipated and that sort of bombed spectacularly. There's a lot to this book, but it's not a book about racism. That's what frustrates me so much about all the reviews of it. The people calling it a book about racism are the same folks who think Republicans hate Muslims and that's why they want to refuse Syrian refugees asylum until they can be verified. This book is about traditionalism vs. progressivism. It's about doing things in a logical sequence. I don't dislike the book so much as the divide I see when I look at peoples' reaction to it.

I'm always looking for a new fabulous memoir. Even a mediocre one would do. This book, however, was neither. (Although I love the cover.)

Okay. *chagrin* This is my second time reading this book. The first time, I loved it and couldn't figure out why so many people hated it. This time through? I got it. Oh my goodness. I almost didn't finish it this time. The movie remains one of my favorite movies ever, but not the book.

I disliked this book viscerally. I really gave it a chance, too. I have a high tolerance for skimpy plots, but this one was just awful in my humble opinion. I didn't like any of the characters or care what happened to them, no one grew emotionally or had a change of heart, and that's the greatest blunder a novelist can make in my mind.

This was a terrible collection of poetry. It's bee years since I've gone through one of these collections, and after this, it will likely be many more before I go through another one. I was interested in this one because it was edited by Kevin Young, whose anthologies I tend to adore. Hey, maybe this was edited by that other Bill Bryson!

Joan Rivers was never my favorite comedienne, but I enjoyed her and loved her audaciousness. But this book wasn't a tribute to her, it was a forum for her daughter Melissa to show us how (not) funny she is. There wasn't a serious line in the book other than a couple lines that were direct quotes from Joan Rivers herself.

It pains me to include a book by Michael Perry on my stinkers list, but here it is. I'd never read anything by Mike but nonfiction, which I maintain is the finest in the publishing world. I expected this book to be fun, not very serious, just a good lighthearted romp. But it was preposterous and took some moral turns I wasn't quite comfortable with.

And last but not least, one of the bestselling books of 2015! I knew this one was going to be a crapshoot for me. I'm rather unfamiliar with Amy Poehler, but I went in with a completely open mind. Turns out I needed more than that. Let's just say Amy and I have nothing in common and likely wouldn't have a good time together. I'm glad others enjoyed the book, but for me, it made me think way, way less of her.
There you have it, my Bah Humbugs of 2015.
What would you add to the list? Comment below.


  1. I actually really loved seeing this list. Maybe I'll follow suit. It's just fascinating to see what people didn't like and why. I read A Homemade Life last year, and although I didn't LOVE it, I liked it well enough that it actually popped into my head just today (I was remembering the ginger/banana bread I made from the book last Christmas Eve).

    I was interested to hear your thoughts on Julie and Julia. I've been listening to My Life in France and really liking it. I've actually never seen the movie of Julie and Julia, but now I totally want to.

    1. Oh, I just adore that movie. The book is full of bad language and raunchiness. I was glad for it to end this time. But the movie is quite wonderful--esp. the Julia parts.

      I read Life in France, but unfortunately, I made the mistake of reading it after Dearie, the thick Julia Child biography, so Life in France felt like a rehash--though it should have been the other way around!

      And then there's Julia's Cats, but since you're not an animal lover, I won't recommend it. :)