Today’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is about books that we liked more or less than we expected to. It’s always easier to write about books I didn’t like.
First are books in the category of authors I love, but books that disappointed:
The Japanese Lover: Isabel Allende is one of my favorite authors, but her books can be uneven. I really disliked the story and characters, and I even disliked the title. The parts about the Japanese internment camps were fascinating, but the rest didn’t work for me.
The Summer Before the War: I loved Helen Simonson’s The Last Stand of Major Pettigrew, but didn’t love this book. It was okay, but I felt like it raised serious issues in a flip way, and the romance between the two main characters fell a little flat.
The Little Friend: Donna Tartt’s The Secret History is one of my all-time favorite books. Her second novel was a disappointment. I also didn’t love The Goldfinch as much as everyone else did, though it was quite good. Sigh.
The next group of books received a lot of critical acclaim, and I felt I should love them, but I didn’t.
Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld: my “love to hate” book, everything rubbed me the wrong way. And I usually love a book about a misfit.
Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay: I love a good World War II/Holocaust novel, but in this book I hated the modern-day story, and I just don’t love novels that switch back and forth between past and present. Also, and I know a Holocaust book should be disturbing, but that little boy locked in the crawl-space is something I can’t get out of my head.
The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer: A long, meandering story about a group of friends who meet in summer camp and have various successes and challenges as adults. This book should have been interesting but wasn’t; maybe any book that calls itself “The Interestings” is doomed from the start.
These last books fell in the “too cute” category for me. I know I’m in the minority here, but any time a book can be described as “sweet”, it’s a pretty good bet I won’t like it. But most readers LOVE these books.
The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
The Guernsey Literacy and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Sheffer
The Humans by Matt Haig
I’m sure many of you will disagree with the books I’ve listed — if so, please comment! I’m always happy to disagree when it comes to books. And these weren’t books I hated (mostly) but books I wanted more from. Which books have disappointed you?
Yep, The Goldfinch was a disappointment to me too, and The Guernsey Literary etc etc was too sweet! So sadly I can’t disagree with your list… 😉
I certainly dont disagree with you on the Japanese Lover. I just couldn’t get into this book at all – abandoned it about a quarter of the way in. The Storied Life of A.J Fitkry was good to begin with but oh dear the ending was so hopelessly sweet
Japanese Lover got worse as it went on, so you made a good choice. I also remember Fikry starting out good. The truth is I don’t like neat, cutesy endings, but I can never say that in reviews without giving too much away.
I just looked back at my review and see that I also evaded commenting on the ending. I just said ” much of the book felt too much like the adage ‘happiness writes white’ for my taste.
It’s funny, but I think for me Helen SImonson is an audio writer. I threw back Major Pettigrew but gave it a second chance on audio and LOVED it. I started the audio of Summer Before the War and got so excited I ran out and bought it IN HARDBACK (something I NEVER do with fiction!!) then….lost interest. I keep meaning to get it back on audio at the library. I adored AJ and Gurnsey–but I love sweet stories. I can see where some would gag on precious of cloying though. It’s a fine line.
Thanks for the comment! I never listen to audio books, it would be interesting to make the comparison some time.
I also loved The Secret History, but have not been able to get into Tartt’s other books. And I do not like too-sweet books either — I read the Guernsey book but I tend to shy away from others that are compared to it (e.g. AJ Fikry) for that very reason. I would like to try Isabel Allende, but I will not start with that one!
I would definitely read Allende’s older books! Eva Luna and The House of the Spirits are wonderful. Her writing just isn’t the same today.
I loved Guernsey, but I can certainly see why it would be too sweet; I generally hate things that can be called “gentle fiction,” and I think maybe Guernsey was okay for me because I specifically read so little else that’s like it. 🙂
I liked The Interestings, but with no strong feelings about it. I read The Cookbook Collector, by Allegra Goodman, around the same time; it’s a similar style, but I liked it much better.