Terrible Books You Had To Read In School

My post a few days ago seems to have tapped into a rich vain of frustration amongst my readers. It has also left me curious: what was the single worst work of fiction you were ever compelled to read (by school or other considerations) and why did you hate it so?

Mine, obviously, was Ethan Frome for the reasons outlined earlier.


About thevenerablecorvex

I have the heart of a poet, the brain of a theoretical physicist, and the wingspan of an albatross. I am also notable for my humility.
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13 Responses to Terrible Books You Had To Read In School

  1. Alexandra says:

    To Kill A Mockingbird. It was very… flat. The characters didn’t change, the plot was predictable, and there wasn’t really a revelation or even surprise at the end.

  2. Leah Jane says:

    Anthem, by Ayn Rand.
    One book that we had to read which was really unpopular with my classmates in grade 7 was The White Umbrella, by Gish Jen. I quite liked it, but everyone else seemed to hate it.

  3. adrianaurelien says:

    Heart of Darkness. So boring, so racist. I do recall us reading a bit of a funny essay by Chinua Achebe about how it was a terrible book, so there was that upside.

    • A lot of people seem to hate this one; I’m rather neutral on it, myself (the racism is palpable, but at least it’s not gleefully celebrating colonialism, like most of the other books set in Africa from the period); I will agree, though, that it is not what you can call a “pleasant” read.

  4. I would like to add an honourable mention for John Wyndham’s The Chrysalids, whose climax is such a morally-repugnant bit of Social Darwinism that I honestly wondered for a long time after reading it whether the author was a fascist sympathizer.

    • Lindsay says:

      Oh my gosh! I’ve heard of Wyndham, and I think I’ve read one of his books (Day of the Triffids, maybe?), but I don’t remember THAT! You have piqued my morbid curiosity.

      • The weird thing is, the rest of the book up until that point actually had a fairly strong anti-oppression theme to it, but the last five pages or so brutally reversed it to make the entire message of the novel into “the weak should obey the strong.” My friend suggested that this might have been intentional, and that the real theme of the novel was “all humans are bastards,” but if it was, I’m not seeing it. Of course, it has been twelve years since I read it.

  5. eyeonicr says:

    My worst was Chinese Cinderella, which was mind-bogglingly boring. It’s possible, however, that I’ve read worse and just suppressed the memories. I’ve read To Kill A Mockingbird as well, but by that point I had learnt to just read something else and wing the essays.

  6. La says:

    I can’t really remember being forced to read anything horrible at school, although in the UK I only did English up to age 16. During my degree, though, I think the worst thing I was ever forced to read was Hobbes’ Leviathan. I didn’t particularly like reading most of the books during that particular Ethics course, but I found that one particularly rough to get through!

  7. Pingback: Terrible Books You Had To Read In School « Clarissa's Blog

  8. Pingback: The most terrible books I had to read at school | zinemin's random thoughts

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