Librarians are sharing books that made them so mad they threw them at the wall, and the answers hold up


The Librarian Thinktank group on Facebook is always a good place to crowdsource readers' advisory, job interview prep, and book display ideas. Every once in a while there is a conversation that is worthy of deep analysis, and the "what book made you so angry you literally wanted to throw it" question with its 300-odd answers turned into a time suck of epic proportions as I analyzed and considered each answer, weighing it against my own ideas. Here are the titles that got the most comments and responses:

Enders Game

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

Ender's Game is a 1985 military science fiction book that, according to Wikipedia, won the Nebula Award for best novel in 1985, and the Hugo Award for best novel in 1986, considered the two most prestigious awards in science fiction. It was also nominated for a Locus Award in 1986. In 1999, it placed No. 59 on the reader's list of Modern Library 100 Best Novels. It was also honored with a spot on American Library Association's "100 Best Books for Teens"

But a lot of librarians want to throw it at the wall. Here's a sample comment: "My husband really enjoyed it so I kept thinking it would get better. Then every time it started to, it got worse again. I was SO frustrated and pissed by the time I finished it. I was shocked that I did but I kept thinking there was something I was missing." 

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

This is one of the ones that came to my mind originally, and I'm glad I'm not alone in being disappointed. One response read: "Only one: A Discovery of Witches," with a commenter agreeing: I really wanted to like that series, but it was a huge letdown. I kept hoping it would get better (people were saying, “No, you have to keep reading! It’s worth it, you’ll see!!”) but it actually got worse and worse.  It still makes me mad sometimes when I think about it!!" 

We're clearly in the minority though. It has 4.1 stars on Goodreads with over 422,000 ratings. 

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

Another one I agree with (and, with 5.8 million ratings averaging 3.63 on Goodreads, more people are with me than Discovery of Witches) a lot of librarians weren't on either Team Edward or Team Jacob. There were a lot of them who were on Team Throw It At The Wall. 

Here's one sample comment: " I forced myself to read the Twilight series. I did it for the teens in my HS library, 'you mean you haven’t read it?' Ughh. A teacher had said the series got better, so I pushed myself for the 'get better' parts that did not happen."

Lots of folks (including me) seconded that. Not sorry.

Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult

It looks like it's set up to be a heartbreaker: "When Willow is born with severe osteogenesis imperfecta, her parents are devastated--she will suffer hundreds of broken bones as she grows, a lifetime of pain."

But apparently, it stirred anger rather than tears. 

"Handle with Care by Jodi Piccoult. After that one I was done with her."
"Pretty much every Jodi Picoult book I’ve ever read (I’ve stopped reading her), but Handle with Care was the worst. I wanted to run over that book with my car, then light it on fire."
"There were family problems, questions of morality, several characters having personal problems, it just seemed to be one big book of problems. & very whiny one at that."

Goodreads doesn't disagree, with lots of reviews mentioning the pointless ending, despite receiving 120,000 ratings averaging almost 4 stars.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

This is one that seems to elicit strong love/hate reactions. While it has an average of 4.5 stars over 1.9 million (yes, million) ratings on Goodreads, there were still plenty who weren't impressed.

"I had to read it for the book club I led. Everyone loved it and raves about it. I did like the nature description but the rest was just too much. This is one where I think the movie might actually be better. But I haven’t seen it."

"There are so many things wrong with it, I hardly know where to start. The only thing it really had going for it was the plot, which was definitely a good one, and it is too bad that it got wrecked."

"Like so many people, I read this book because my book club chose it. Unlike so many people, I am not impressed. Not even a little bit. A lot of times when a book is rated this high, I tend to think it's me and not the book. But nope. This time I fully believe it's the book."

"There is beautiful imagery, and then there is pretentious cobbling together of SAT words and figurative language so it seems deep but really isn't. For me, this was the latter. And so much of the book is just that overly flowery language barfed over every page for no reason, saying nothing or not making a lick of sense with what it does say. But it sounds pretty! So! Art!"

There were lots more (the whole thread had over 300 comments) but those are some highlights. What books would you add? Any that made you so mad you threw them at the wall? Leave a comment and let us know!

About the author 

Heather Teysko

Heather Teysko is head of community and engagement for Library Lever, and she loves running the Common Stacks Podcast. She's been in Library Land for close to 20 years, with a career that has focused on technology and ebooks. She is also passionate about history, having built a website on Colonial American history in 1998 that got to #1 on Yahoo (when that was a thing) has been podcasting on Tudor England since 2009, and her podcast The Renaissance English History Podcast has a social following of over 50,000 people. She has published several books including Sideways and Backwards: a Novel of Time Travel and Self Discovery, which was negatively compared to Outlander in several Amazon reviews, despite the fact that it is set in a completely different time period, but the comparison still feels like an honor.
You can follow her on twitter @teysko.

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