I really hate to do this on Christmas Day, since it’s supposed to be a time of joy and love. But last week I listed my top 10 reads of 2012, and this week it seems only fair to list my 10 worst reading experiences. Consider it my Christmas gift to you — now you know what books to avoid! 🙂 Here, in no particular order, are 10 books that disappointed me this year:
1. P.D. James, Death Comes to Pemberley — Being a sucker for anything Austen-related and also a fan of British mysteries, I thought this book would be a slam dunk. Sadly, I was extremely underwhelmed, both by the mystery and the P&P elements. A poor start to 2012, for sure!
2. G.M. Malliet, Death of a Cozy Writer — This is a mystery in the English country house tradition, but it’s so unoriginal that I just found it boring. There are a lot of great books in this genre, but this isn’t one of them.
3. Susan Elia MacNeal, Mr. Churchill’s Secretary — A mystery set during World War II. (I don’t seem to have had much luck with mysteries this year!) I was really interested in the premise of a woman using her mathematical abilities to crack German codes, but I found this book far too scattered to be compelling.
4. María Dueñas, The Time in Between — Again, this book was supposed to be about a Spanish woman who worked for British intelligence during World War II…but that plot didn’t actually begin until about page 400 of 600. It really annoys me when a book’s blurb and cover give a completely erroneous description of what the book is about.
5. Alexandra Potter, You’re (Not) the One — This is another book whose great premise was let down by bad execution. The plot is about a girl who kisses a boy under Venice’s Bridge of Sighs, thus binding him to her as her one true love — but when she meets him again 10 years later, she discovers they’re not truly compatible. It sounded like a really fun chick lit book, but in practice it just…wasn’t.
6. Elizabeth Speller, The Return of Captain John Emmett — Another mystery! This one is set during the aftermath of WWI, which is an interesting time period to me. I think my problem with this book is that it tried to be “literary” but only succeeded in dragging and being dull.
7. Dashiell Hammett, The Maltese Falcon — With all due respect to Mr. Hammett, I wasn’t a fan of this classic noir novel. I can’t really put my finger on why; I guess it just wasn’t for me. Loved The Thin Man though!
8. Daphne Du Maurier, Jamaica Inn — This book was just way too soap opera-esque and melodramatic for me. I also found it extremely predictable. A lot of the book focuses on creating a sense of suspense, but the heroine was such a passive person that I didn’t really care whether evil befell her or not!
9. Shane Jones, Light Boxes — I found this novel a bit too experimental. There were many different narrators, a plot that didn’t quite make logical sense, and hardly any character development. I think I would have enjoyed it more if I’d approached it as loosely releated poetry rather than a cohesive novel.
10. Josephine Tey, The Man in the Queue — Another disappointing mystery! I love the genre, but I definitely seem to have picked a lot of clunkers this year.
I should say that I didn’t think any of these books were awful; they just didn’t appeal to me personally. I chose these 10 books because of my level of disappointment with them, which was based on my expectations. So obviously your mileage may vary.
Lest this post is too Scrooge-y, I want to wish everyone a very merry Christmas! I’m off to chill with my family and open some presents. 🙂