I’m a book lover, so as I started to peruse other lists of “overrated” books, I just couldn’t agree with most of the listings, even though I understood why some people might loathe them. For example, Wuthering Heights is the first book where I learned to do close-reading, so it’s equally close to my heart.* (And BTW, the Kindle version is free on Amazon right now.) And I simply cannot dismiss The Great Gatsby, even though I will probably never read it again. But that said, there are some books that I feel are quite overdone.
Note – the comments on these lists elsewhere on the web are quite heated, so I expect spirited debate. But keep it civil, folks. We’re all book lovers, after all.
1. On the Road by Jack Kerouac – I get the appeal this book has to many a young writer on the quest for adventure. But as a work of writing, I found it not that interesting and not that well-written.
2. Ulysses by James Joyce – Confession – I have never been able to read this entire book. I’ve carried the Modern Library hardcover with me from house to house for years, but I just can’t get through it. Maybe if I read it with a group?
3. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown – I read the book; I saw the movie. I enjoyed it. It’s a great page-turned. But a GREAT book . . . I just don’t think so. A book that shows great audience awareness? Absolutely.
4. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace – While I appreciate the postmodern qualities of the book and can see the quirky traits that make it so appealing, I just didn’t get into it. . . even on the third try.
5. Romeo & Juliet by William Shakespeare – I actually love this play and think it masterful, but I add it to this list because I think it’s really overrated as a book for teenagers to read in high school English classes. The language is dense, yes, but my issues is more with the idea that because it’s a romance teenagers will appreciate it. Most don’t.
6. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger – So I’m not Salinger’s biggest fan, and that may color my opinion here. But I just don’t get Holden Caulfield. I didn’t relate to him at all. . . but again, I can see how some people might.
7. It by Stephen King = Here’s a case where the movie ruined the book for me. . . (Spoiler alert) – a big spider?! Really?!
8. The Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer – So yes, I read the entire series in a one-week binge at my granny’s house. Yes, I have seen all the movies. Yes, I do think the books are well-paced and plotted well. But the craze these have caused, not sure they’re that worthy.
But then I’m stuck. . . I can’t come up with two more (although I assure you 50 Shades of Gray would be on here if I ever read it, which I won’t.) So it’s your turn. . . what books do you think are overrated? Why?
Note – most of these books are by white, American men, probably because I’ve read more books by white, American men – particularly in school – than I have books by women, people of color, or people from other countries. But I also think there may be something here of the marketing of these books, the way they get the press. Still thinking through that.
*Two of my cats are named Emily and Charlotte. The other is named Oscar, as in Wilde.