Namo Namaha friends. If you follow me or have read my posts before, you might know that I had a pretty good year reading-wise. I didn’t have as many bad reads as I had imagined. This is in part because I learnt to discard the books I disliked. i.e. I wouldn’t finish a book that’s not to my tastes and would put it in my DNF (Did Not Finish) pile. This drastically reduced the number of books that were just not my cup of tea.
We live in a generation where we are inundated with so many choices of great books, that reading ones that don’t speak to us feels like a colossal waste of our precious time. So, I have transformed into a “pro-DNF” reader. I don’t feel as guilty about setting a book aside, as I would have, a few years earlier.
Now that we have set things clear on my reading habits. Let’s dive right into the few books that I gave the lowest ratings to.
Since I use GoodReads to keep track of the books I read, I naturally stick to their rating system of 1-5 ⭐s (which’s frankly quite lacking!).
1 ⭐ rating is given to a book that you probably have lots of problems with and 5 ⭐s is given to the book that you absolutely adored. As is obvious, 1 ⭐ is the lowest rating you can give and 5 ⭐s is the highest.
So, based on that scale, it’s surprising that this year, out of the 84 books that I read ( and still counting as it is still the 2nd week of December), I haven’t rated a single book 1 ⭐ ( Thanks to the DNF lords I guess 😀)
Now that I don’t have any 1 ⭐ reads, I’ll be considering only my 2 ⭐ books as my least rated books. 3 ⭐s are moderate books that I did like, hence 3 ⭐+ books will not be included in this list.
So, now that we have established my criteria for judging a book as least favorite, let’s get down to it. Shall we?
Please note: I’ll be listing the books based on the date I read them i.e. oldest read to the latest one.
1. Her Royal Highness by Rachel Hawkins
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Millie Quint decides to go to a faraway exclusive boarding school prompted by a recent heartbreak. Everything in that school in Scotland is picture perfect and dreamlike except her room-mate who happens to be a princess and whom she perceives as a royal snob. Will they take a liking to each other and how? forms the crux of the story.
The premise sounded interesting and I was looking forward to reading a solid hate-love story. But, this story was quite forgettable and I don’t remember much of it except that I felt the story to be shallow and the characters to be shallower.
The first half was bearable but the second half was yawningly boring.
I couldn’t relate to the characters and their relationship had zero depth. It was also too insta-lovey for me. I had questions like, what happened to their aversion? How did it magically disappear within a few interactions?
Because this book was tiny I wasn’t too bummed about reading it!
2. The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Lina is a wedding planner and ironically her own wedding gets canceled by her groom Andrew. A decision brought to fruition by subtle encouragement from his best man/brother Max. Few years after the breakup Lina and the worst best-man Max’s paths cross again under less than ideal circumstances. Will their relationship get muddled further or will they learn that everything happened for the best? forms the crux of the story.
I have included part of my GoodReads review 👇instead of writing a new one. Because let’s face it, my thoughts haven’t changed since then.
As is obvious from the trend in this post, I was intrigued by the premise. It sounded exciting and fun. I listened to this book in audiobook format and I finished it solely because it was an audiobook.
I enjoyed the first 1 or 2 hours of the book. Lina’s family dynamics, Lina and Max’s light banter were all hilarious. But right before the middle act, it all started to unravel for me.
Their love story was super fast and cringey. Adults, especially ones who have been singed by bad relationships, learn to be cautious with their relationships and are more realistic about their expectations.
It didn’t seem like these two characters learnt anything at all from their past experiences. The most irritating part about them was the way they behaved. Adults behaving like teenagers or new adults is so uncool!
I also have to confess that my distaste could be mostly because I realized while reading this book that I have outgrown such stories. My cynical mind was forcing me to roll my eyes at every cheesy dialogue and corny scene in this novel. And this novel was filled with such cheesiness.
This book is marketed as an adult romance. While the sex scenes might justify the label, the other scenes are so juvenile and immature that it won’t even pass as a good YA. Again, I am not a fan of stories where adults behave like gawky teenagers.
3. If Cats Disappeared from the World by Genki Kawamura
Representation – Asian literature
The protagonist has been told by his doctor that he has very few days to live. While contemplating if he must start with a bucket list or not, the Devil appears and makes an offer. He can make a thing disappear from the world, for a day of his life”. Will the protagonist make the deal? What will he trade-off for his life? Who decides the worth of something? These are the questions this book will make you ask.
Don’t get me wrong I didn’t hate this book, I just was disappointed with it. I went in expecting some deep philosophical discussion on the worth of life and the living. Instead, I got some musings and a weak attempt at humor. As mentioned in my GoodReads review, this was a book that you might expect to see as a coffee table book. A sweet, whimsical, but shallow kind of a story. Not a book that’ll be accused of making any kind of a serious impact.
4. Plain Bad Heroines by Emily. M. Danforth
Genre: Historical Fiction, Magical realism
Representation – LGBT
A string of mysterious deaths of a few students at an elite, exclusive girls’ boarding school set in the 1900s leads to the closure of that school. Which in turn, spurs weird rumors and superstitions about the school and the land itself. The mystery surrounding the school has become legendary and keeps attracting novelists, filmmakers, and so on. One such filmmaker attempts to recreate the legend by making a movie on it. The story is weaved between timelines and lives of our plain bad heroines both past and current.
The synopsis sounded very interesting and the hype surrounding it made me want to read it right away and so I did. All I can say is that I was disappointed. I have given a detailed review on GoodReads so do check that out.
In short, I enjoyed the writing, especially the descriptions. But, sadly my enjoyment was restricted only to the writing. I couldn’t understand the numerous “American-specific” pop culture references that were liberally sprinkled throughout the book.
Also, I found all the characters to be severely lacking in depth and character. And, I thought we might have got a more sensible story out of a neurotic rambling person than we got here.
Maybe a little harsh but that was my honest opinion when I finished this book. My exact thought was this: “What on earth was she trying to convey? What was the story?”
So, naturally, this was one of the worst reads of 2020 for me.
5. The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopia
Representation: Asian Literature
Category: Translated works
Translated by: Stephen Snyder
In an island town, objects are disappearing and people are rapidly losing their memories regarding those disappeared objects. A young woman novelist attempts to hide her editor who can remember everything from the memory police. Memory police are the police who ensure that the memories are completely erased.
Trust me, the GoodReads synopsis is far more evocative and impactful than mine can ever be. But, it’s also grossly misleading. I went in expecting a good science-fiction or bare minimum a nice mystery read. What I got was a bland and boring sub-par philosophical thesis.
Don’t get me wrong I like philosophical discussions. But, what I don’t like is a narrator hiding hollow concepts under the garb of “super-mysterious-and-intellectual-sounding-Bullsh**”.
I enjoy silly writing, humorous writing, and all kinds of in-between writing. So I am not a literature snob. But I expect a level of honesty in writing. I don’t like to be cheated out of an experience that I was promised. And I felt that exact sentiment after reading this book. I couldn’t experience an ounce of any kind of satisfaction post reading it. Don’t we all feel a sense of closure/completion once we are done reading a book? I couldn’t experience even that with this one.
For once, I was mad at myself for wasting my time reading this book, when I could have invested it in books that I might have liked.
You can check out my detailed review of this book here.
So, there you have it, people! My top five worst reads of the year 2020. Which were your most disappointing or horrible reads of the year?
I do enjoy keeping a bookish conversation going.
Stay safe and blessed. Om Shanti. 🙏