Worst/Overrated books.

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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby theGoldenCalf; » Tue Aug 24, 2010 12:49 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
theGoldenCalf; wrote:so if it is a book and it requires reading skills it is less likely to be acknowledged as the commercial low-grade crap it actually is.
No, because there is still essentially pulp, even if it's no longer printed on significantly cheaper paper. Shitty pop music is generally more like shitty romance novels, which everyone *knows* are shitty but which can be a fun waste of an afternoon nonetheless.


As kvaks said, this may be true for some books - cheap romance, teen vampire, etc. - but being a book and having some false pretense at having something profound to say helps many a crap heap permeate the pulp sphere, at least among people who don't really know anything decent enough to put in comparison. This is the feeling I get about it, I don't know, maybe it actually works the same way in the music industry. Anyway these comparisons are starting to make my head spin.

And maybe this is where my mileage varies, but I never encountered anything other than "who farted?" faces when mentioning Coelho to people who have even the slightest interest in literature. Every last one of them considered it to be pulp.
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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby bigglesworth » Tue Aug 24, 2010 1:41 pm UTC

Hmm, Zohar mentions Coelho being repetitive and then he gets compared to Jack Johnson. If these things are so, then it is a good comparison.
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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby melladh » Tue Aug 24, 2010 2:28 pm UTC

theGoldenCalf; wrote:I don't object to a discussion about Coelho's work being overrated or not, I just stated a personal opinion


Well, I didn't mean to make a big deal out of it, I just found it curious the way you expressed yourself, which is why I pursued it. You said
theGoldenCalf; wrote:I don't think you can seriously say that the alchemist is overrated.

as opposed to "I don't think the alchemist is overrated". And even if the people praising it aren't literary critics, as long as there's many enough of them, I'd consider a book they're praising as one unity to be overrated - even if only by people I don't care that much about.

...but I often get syntax error in my compiler when people talk. I'm not objecting to what you say as much as trying to see what I'm missing in your statement, if anything. :D
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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby SecondTalon » Tue Aug 24, 2010 7:02 pm UTC

Overrated = Talked about a whole fucking lot for not goddamn reason because it's shit.*

Ergo, The Alchemist is Overrated.

Move along.


*Among other definitions, sure, but this one makes my point
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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby theGoldenCalf; » Wed Aug 25, 2010 7:14 am UTC

This post had objectionable content.I do not think "Move Along" means what you think it means...-Inigo MontoyaST

I don't remember seeing Zelazny's "Amber" series mentioned here anywhere. While the first half is mostly good - first two book are great, third one isn't bad, downhill from there - he really made me suffer through the second half, just from the suspense of wanting to know what happens with the protagonist of the first half, who was a likable and captivating character as opposed to the second half's character who was an annoying little bitch. And finally,

Spoiler:
to my disappointment, it ended with some bullshit explanation which made no sense and wrapped things up weakly and arbitrarily in the course of a page and a half or so.


And these books won fucking prizes.

The problem with Zelazny's style is that it is entirely based on building an almost never-ending roller coaster of suspense, and then wrapping it up in the last minute with a very short "poof-magic-it's over" sequence that leaves you hanging and almost reluctantly boarding the next roller coaster which takes off almost immediately. When he manages to make it work it's great, when he doesn't it sucks hard enough to remove blood stains.
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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby Jorpho » Wed Aug 25, 2010 11:27 am UTC

I found this colorful essay (SPOILERS AHOY) that discusses how Zelazny goes a bit overboard with the gadgetry and compares it to similar problems in other works.

To be fair, the short stories included in Manna from Heaven do suggest that he was going to try to straighten everything out, until he suffered from Author Existence Failure.
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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby tastelikecoke » Sat Aug 28, 2010 5:29 pm UTC

Since Twilight is the prime example of thread, I'll rub it again to everyone how overrated it is.
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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby melladh » Sun Aug 29, 2010 6:54 pm UTC

tastelikecoke wrote:Since Twilight is the prime example of thread, I'll rub it again to everyone how overrated it is.


Argh!! It burns!!
...though I wonder how many of those people ever read the book. I realize this is very prejudiced of me, but some part of me is very certain that most people who hadn't read the books when they saw the movie, and loved the movie... never discover that there are godawful books behind them as well.
I think some naive part of me is hoping that to love a movie that horribly bad, you can't love books, and I know there are people who love the movies who hasn't read the books. The same part of me that thinks pulp is going to die out because those kinds of people will watch bad movies instead.

I know that's not too likely to be true, but some prejudices are weirdly comforting :P Mind you, the more accessible movies have become, the less I see pulp in kiosks and at grocery store checkouts!
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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby sharpcrayon » Mon Aug 30, 2010 12:21 am UTC

I was a fan of twilight for one reason; it got and entire generation of teenage girls and boys to pick up a book and [i]read[i].Currently I am a fan of Mercedes Lackey and haven't yet found a book I can put down.

In other book news, I'm seriously contemplating starting a serious relationship with my school textbooks and raising a non-fiction family.
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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby Kendo_Bunny » Mon Aug 30, 2010 5:25 am UTC

sharpcrayon wrote:I was a fan of twilight for one reason; it got and entire generation of teenage girls and boys to pick up a book and read.


Bolded for emphasis. Twilight has best been described as a book for people who don't like books. If you go onto their forums, they talk about reading... Twilight. Nothing else. Sometimes one of them will pick up a book mentioned in the series, but they always come back to how it compares to Twilight (nowhere near as good is the unanimous consensus). Some people claimed to have been big readers, but Bella Swan also claims to be a big reader, and reads approximately one book per book (and doesn't actually finish any of them). If you look over the lists that the average Twilight fan posts, they have only read books that are commonly assigned for school, and sometimes classic romances. But now that they have Twilight, they don't need Gilbert Blythe, Rhett Butler, Heathcliff, Romeo, or Willoughby (all characters that SMeyer has denigrated as not comparing to her perfect Edward). Sometimes they even complain that reading another book takes them away from re-reading Twilight.

This just strengthens my conclusion that Twilight is blatant emotional pornography, and like all pornography, it is addictive, especially to addictive personalities.

(For the quote: WHAT IF... What if true love left you? Not some ordinary high school romance, not some random jock boyfriend, not anyone at all replaceable. True love. The real deal. Your other half, your true soul's match. What happens if he leaves?

The answer is different for everyone. Juliet had her version, Marianne Dashwood had hers, Isolde and Catherine Earnshaw and Scarlett O'Hara and Anne Shirley all had their ways of coping.

I had to answer the question for Bella. What does Bella Swan do when true love leaves her? Not just true love, but Edward Cullen! None of those other heroines lost an Edward (Romeo was a hothead, Willoughby was a scoundrel, Tristan had loyalty issues, Heathcliff was pure evil, Rhett had a mean streak and cheated with hookers, and sweet Gilbert was much more of a Jacob than an Edward). So what happens when True Love in the form of Edward Cullen leaves Bella?
- Stephenie Meyer, completely missing the point of every single one of those stories, especially Anne of Green Gables.)
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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby melladh » Mon Aug 30, 2010 8:10 am UTC

(+1 Like @ Kendo_Bunny's post)

That really is the problem... I've always respected books that make people read, giving your average no-surprises crime novels some credit... but if the book in question doesn't inspire them to do any more than reiterate a single collection of three (?) very poor books modern pulp, there isn't really any gain. Perhaps their spelling will improve slightly. Is the gain simply that they're half a step further away from the TV, on occasion? That reading requires a tad more brain work than television?

I see your point, sharpcrayon, but in this particular case I have to disagree. Try as I might, pulp can never gain any more respect from me than reality shows. In fact, it is a little like the wish that people would watch documentaries (there are quite a few that are fun and interesting, in between the monotone WWII ones), and then defending reality shows with "but at least they're watching something with real people in it".
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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby sharpcrayon » Mon Aug 30, 2010 10:26 am UTC

I don't deny that it hasn't worked for everyone - I'm not sure if anything but air ever does, however, the people on the forums aren't the ones I'm talking about. They're in the same class of readers still waiting for their Hogwarts letter. The ones in the forums are trying to "out twilight" each other because, face it, that's what young adults do. I do know of several young people that picked up Twilight not as their first book but as the first one they've finished and I dearly hope that these cases are not secluded miracles! A while they're not reading Jane Eyre or Le Miserables, they are still reading. That's the important part.
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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby pooteeweet » Mon Aug 30, 2010 7:31 pm UTC

A bunch of the posts on that website appear to have been made by fully-grown adults. :shock: :cry:
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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby sharpcrayon » Tue Aug 31, 2010 1:28 am UTC

Savage hoards of maniacal chipmunks couldn't force me to talk about Twilight and adults. I'm much more comfortable in my bubble of happiness (in which every youth that picked up one of the Twilight series will someday pick up a different book - for fun - and read it)!
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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby smw543 » Tue Aug 31, 2010 10:21 am UTC

sharpcrayon wrote:A while they're not reading Jane Eyre or Le Miserables, they are still reading. That's the important part.

You sound like one of those parents who says, "Well, [our son] isn't really religious, but at least he goes to church." Why is reading (or church, for that matter [/snark]) inherently good? Yes, doing particular activities more can alter your brain functioning, but it's not as simple as building muscle—reading lots of trash won't necessarily help you in any meaningful way. But more importantly, I can't wait until people stop feeling like they have to hold up reading as some great virtue, wholly superior to other mediums simply because it's The Old Way (like church? Sorry, I'm feeling irreverent today).

And I say that as someone with a BA in Creative Writing and hopes for publication in major literary magazines. Reading is good, but I'd rather someone watch Mad Men than read Twilight.
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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby Belial » Tue Aug 31, 2010 1:02 pm UTC

Man, exactly. Consuming shitty literature is the same as consuming shitty film is the same as consuming shitty music. If watching the Jersey Shore doesn't lead to reading great literature, neither will reading Twilight.
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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby Decker » Tue Aug 31, 2010 3:02 pm UTC

I was...disappointed by Sword of Shannara. I don't think it's a bad book, but I do think it's over-rated.
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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby El Spark » Tue Aug 31, 2010 5:45 pm UTC

Decker wrote:I was...disappointed by Sword of Shannara. I don't think it's a bad book, but I do think it's over-rated.


I agree. I also think that the characters got really whiny by the second or third book in the series. I tried a different series by him, and same result. I understand a little bit of pissing and moaning, but all the time? Really?
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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby sharpcrayon » Tue Aug 31, 2010 10:40 pm UTC

I'm going to have to disagree, it doesn't matter what they read, as long as they read. Reading (I'm sure you know as a degree holding literature person) increases creativity, attention spans, reading speed (go figure), and vocabulary. Other personal benefits include entertaining people on long car rides, blissful silence, and a fantastic escape from reality!

And no, I have zero children (let's keep it that way for now!)

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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby Midnight » Tue Aug 31, 2010 10:49 pm UTC

In regards to Shannara: In their defense, they're always put in annoying situations. That's why I didn't like it. Why put your characters in situations where the best course of action is to bitch about it?

In regards to reading: Yeah reading itself is good, but it's unlikely that kids are gonna make the leap from Stephanie Meyers to Homer. I wouldn't've read the Lord of the Rings in fourth grade, but I did because Dad read the Hobbit aloud to me. If he hadn't, I would've kept on with the Animorphs. It isn't necessarily bad--cause let's face it, Animorphs is fucking awesome--but though reading increases vocabulary and creativity, it doesn't necesarily lead to better books, which is sort of ironic. Progression in ability to read isn't always connected to progression in quality of literature. Yeah you can tackle them because you read better, but you might want to stick with vampires.

Like Belial said, watching shitty Tyler Perry movies isn't gonna lead you to Apocalypse Now or Citizen Kane. That's not part of the natural progression of media consumption. It's gonna lead to more voracious consumption, but it's still shitty tyler perry movies.

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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby smw543 » Wed Sep 01, 2010 3:19 am UTC

sharpcrayon wrote:Reading (I'm sure you know as a degree holding literature person) increases creativity, attention spans, reading speed (go figure), and vocabulary.

1) Creativity: A dubious claim if there ever was one. Ask ten people to define "creativity" and you'll get twenty definitions (even psychologists can't come close to agreeing). And reading formulaic literature will only help you learn the formula, so as to more efficiently create formulaic stories; read Twilight ten times, and (with good composition skills) you'll be able to write a vampire love story that will feel awfully familiar to anyone who has read Twilight (or any of the other stories Meyer borrowed from). In this sense, yes, reading Twilight will increase creativity.

2) Attention Span: There's certainly a correlation—you need a decent attention span to read anything of appreciable length—but I'd like a source before I believe that reading has such a strong effect that it should be a reason to do it.

3) Reading Speed: If you go out to run a couple times a week, you'll be able to run faster. What's that? You rarely need to run, and are satisfied with your current ability? But you could run faster! (Also, citation needed.)

4) Vocabulary: False. Your vocabulary adjusts to your surroundings, so reading simplistic prose will actually narrow your functional vocabulary (that is, you won't forget words you already knew, but you'll find yourself using many of them less often).
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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Wed Sep 01, 2010 4:20 am UTC

And getting any of those things (other than reading speed) out of reading doesn't mean that you couldn't get them out of other media.
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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby rat4000 » Wed Sep 01, 2010 2:50 pm UTC

Sword of Shannara is basically LotR plus a two-page infodump at the start and maybe more whining (I read it a while ago), but it's not all bad. Besides, from the second book on, they become good (the Reaper, man, the Reaper) and some of Brooks' later stuff is even very good (Angel Fire East and the trilogy of which it is the last book is what I'm thinking of).
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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby melladh » Thu Sep 02, 2010 8:38 am UTC

smw543 wrote:4) Vocabulary: False. Your vocabulary adjusts to your surroundings, so reading simplistic prose will actually narrow your functional vocabulary (that is, you won't forget words you already knew, but you'll find yourself using many of them less often).


Too true. The internet did it to me. :( Now I occasionally surrender to lolspeak. (sadly, not sarcastic)

Also, I have a question... I keep hearing people referring to "Homer" now and then, in english speaking countries. Am I to understand that's referring to Homeros, or are you actually talking about someone known only as Homer? And if it is Homeros, does anyone know why he keeps being called Homer instead? (Is it just the same reason people keep calling me Marissa in England, it's sort of close and far more common, so let's go with that?)
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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby bigglesworth » Thu Sep 02, 2010 11:06 am UTC

Yes. In England, the custom is for the -ος ending is either cut completely to make the name of a Greek person, or we use a Latinised version with -us. Like Odysseus, Helen &c, it's all to make a name that flows well in English, and occasionally to cut off the endings since English nouns don't have them in the same way. Similar to how the Ancient Greeks referred to one of the Kings of Persia as Κῦρος when his name probably sounded more like Kūruš, in fact.
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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby uncivlengr » Thu Sep 02, 2010 11:23 am UTC

Don Quixote.

The guy's a moron, reads some books and then runs out and acts like he's a knight.

Except he's not acting, he's delusional.
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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby Kewangji » Thu Sep 02, 2010 11:44 am UTC

uncivlengr wrote:Don Quixote.

The guy's a moron, reads some books and then runs out and acts like he's a knight.

Except he's not acting, he's delusional.

That's not really valid criticism, since that's the point of the book, no?
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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby uncivlengr » Thu Sep 02, 2010 1:14 pm UTC

Kewangji wrote:
uncivlengr wrote:Don Quixote.

The guy's a moron, reads some books and then runs out and acts like he's a knight.

Except he's not acting, he's delusional.

That's not really valid criticism, since that's the point of the book, no?

It's a criticism in that there's nothing more to it than that - you would think a book touted as one of the the greatest fictions of all time would amount to more than a guy running around like a fool.

People act like there's a lot more to read into it than that, but it's almost schizophrenic how far they take it.
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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby Kewangji » Thu Sep 02, 2010 7:01 pm UTC

uncivlengr wrote:It's a criticism in that there's nothing more to it than that - you would think a book touted as one of the the greatest fictions of all time would amount to more than a guy running around like a fool.

People act like there's a lot more to read into it than that, but it's almost schizophrenic how far they take it.

The foreword was hilarious, at least!

Also, I thought it was lauded as being the first kind of a 'modern novel', innovative and stuff, and a satire of a lot of old things, which you had to read to really appreciate the book. Though, I never read them, so I can't really be sure.
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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby Decker » Wed Sep 08, 2010 10:19 pm UTC

El Spark wrote:
Decker wrote:I was...disappointed by Sword of Shannara. I don't think it's a bad book, but I do think it's over-rated.


I agree. I also think that the characters got really whiny by the second or third book in the series. I tried a different series by him, and same result. I understand a little bit of pissing and moaning, but all the time? Really?

Actually, one thing that really bugged me was one scene.
Spoiler:
When they were attacked by the Skull Bearer in the battlefield, who said the sword of Shannara was nearby. Then they find a gnome, who says he knows where the sword is, but he won't go anywhere without his...bag of swords that he collected from the battlefield. Beat him, pull him, he wants his bag of swords. So they take the bag and they follow him. He escapes one night and SUPRISE, one of the swords is missing.

Come on guys. Get on the ball.
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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby JayDee » Thu Sep 09, 2010 12:02 am UTC

I read - and enjoyed - the Shannara books when I was what, fifteen and there was only seven of them? I wouldn't call them over-rated, though, because mostly I hear that they aren't particularly good books. That's the consensus among the opinions I've seen.
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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby MotorToad » Fri Sep 17, 2010 6:23 pm UTC

rat4000 wrote:Sword of Shannara is basically LotR plus a two-page infodump at the start and maybe more whining (I read it a while ago), but it's not all bad. Besides, from the second book on, they become good (the Reaper, man, the Reaper) and some of Brooks' later stuff is even very good (Angel Fire East and the trilogy of which it is the last book is what I'm thinking of).

I loved that book when I was in the 7th grade! :)

If I read it now I'd probably build a machine so I could go kick 7th-grade me in the butt. :oops:
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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby Dustin » Thu Sep 30, 2010 8:27 pm UTC

I believe Stephen King's The Stand may be the most overrated book I've ever read. It's incredibly plodding, it's theology is just plain silly (It actually seems to posit that technology is a bit part of our problems and that using it draws God's wrath)

Spoiler:
It actually has the nerve to let the good guys win by having the hand of god show up and smack the villains down, which I feel I would have found to be crappy as a climax even when I was a christian


I also think it has the stupidest paragraph I've ever read, which has a sentence where a pregnant character named Frances Goldsmith watches the main good guy named Stu Redman washing some clothes and thinking that the water looks a little like semen and thinking "don't think that or you'll laugh your way into a miscarriage!" I don't know, but I don't think I've ever found it that funny that something I've seen looks like semen and I must imagine King was stoned as hell that he did.

Also a number of the characters are just annoying as hell.
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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby Jorpho » Thu Sep 30, 2010 9:53 pm UTC

Dustin wrote:I also thinks it has the stupidest paragraph I've ever read
I would advise you to look up Terry Goodkind and his parodists, but really if we started getting into who wrote the stupidest paragraph, we'd probably never stop.
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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby ocean_soul » Fri Oct 01, 2010 6:51 am UTC

The most overrated book has to be The Catcher in the Rye. Other contenders seem to be the Harry Potter and Twilight books. This is from reading parts and reviews only, however. So I might be missing something :D .
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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby SecondTalon » Fri Oct 01, 2010 1:21 pm UTC

Yeah, you.. usually have to have read a book in order to have a valid opinion on it.
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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby bigglesworth » Fri Oct 01, 2010 3:12 pm UTC

Well, you do have a valid opinion on it (or several perhaps), it's just that none of them are your own.
Generation Y. I don't remember the First Gulf War, but do remember floppy disks.
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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby Czhorat » Fri Oct 01, 2010 6:51 pm UTC

re: Don Quixote
uncivlengr wrote:It's a criticism in that there's nothing more to it than that - you would think a book touted as one of the the greatest fictions of all time would amount to more than a guy running around like a fool.

People act like there's a lot more to read into it than that, but it's almost schizophrenic how far they take it.


One has to remember when Cervantes lived and wrote; Don Quixote was arguably one of the earliest examples of the modern novel and, as such, is valuable for its influence on subsequent literature as well as any inherent value. I'd argue that you're oversimplifying to an extreme by calling it "a guy running around like a fool", but even that ignores the novel's historical import. While your mileage may vary on the use of language, interpretation of various themes, and structure of the novel, there's little arguing its place in the historical canon of Western literature.
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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby Czhorat » Fri Oct 01, 2010 7:10 pm UTC

Sir Novelty Fashion wrote:Ursula K. LeGuin - specifically, The Wizard of Earthsea. Aside from that her name sounds like she stuck the "K" in to differentiate herself from all those other Ursula LeGuins around, and that it sounds like it's meant to be shouted far louder than the rest of her name to highlight this... I tried Earthsea after completing LotR, when I was about 10. It was like going from a good red wine to cranberry juice. Earthsea is, by comparison, thin, watery, and rather insipid, IMO.


I couldn't disagree more. I found LoTR to be a better example of world-building than the Earthsea books but the latter to be much more successful as novels in terms of structure, characterization, and development of interesting and increasingly complex themes. In fact, I'd go so far as to put "Lord of the Rings" on the "most-overrated" list because of the dull, pointless villains with no apparent motivation other than to give the heroes some force of nature against which to fight. Jacqueline Carey did a nice job of taking the traditional Tolkeinesque imagery and reversing it in her "Banewrecker" duology.

Sherlock Holmes. Sorry, but Conan-Doyle was just a poor writer. I dare you to read "The Speckled Band" or "The Red-Headed League" and not piss yourself laughing at the absurdity of it all.

I love the Sherlock Holmes books but have to agree. They are a pleasure, but a guilty one. Not well done at all.
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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby Garm » Fri Oct 01, 2010 9:42 pm UTC

The first three shannara books all suck for the same reason.... The plot is basically the same for all three books. Short explanation spoilered for who knows why.

Spoiler:
Their plot can be summarized as follows: Some dude (from one particular family) gets a powerful MacGuffin. Worries about using it. Faces bad guy, uses MacGuffin, wins.
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