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For every literary masterpiece, there are a dozen poorly written novels. These books tend to disappear into the bargain bin at major retail bookstores to be discarded or forgotten. Occasionally, some manage to make it to the mainstream public. Critics usually lambaste these books, but a few manage to gain worldwide recognition and sell millions of copies.
Below are the “top” worst books you can pick up today. Of course, what qualifies as the worst for some might not be for others, so it's up to you to decide whether to take the risk and read them or not.
An endorsement from Oprah catapulted this New Age self-help book into the spotlight. Since its release, it has been translated into over 50 languages and sold millions of copies. The author has even released three other books to capitalize on the original’s success.
“The Secret” focuses the “laws of attraction,” which states positive thoughts bring positive results. Byrne backs up this idea by interviewing a group of professionals in various fields and even adds in quotes from people such as Einstein and Jefferson to make her case more believable.
Although the idea that changing your thinking can change your life is not harmful, Byrne goes a step further and claims everything that happens in your life is due to your mindset. She expands that further and states negative thinking on a large scale causes natural disasters, using the 2011 tsunami in Japan as an example. Readers should approach “The Secret” with a critical eye. While positive thinking can improve your mood, true success requires more than just wishful thinking.
Jonathan Livingston Seagull
This became an international hit selling over 60 million copies. This spiritual/philosophical novella follows a seagull. His journey is one of self-exploration and meaning. By not following his own truth, he learns the meaning of love and kindness. If you haven’t guessed by now, the seagull is a metaphor for your own life.
Rather than follow the crowd, the book encourages you to walk down your own path. The message itself isn't bad; it's the poor writing and sudden introduction of things such as telepathy and teleportation later on in the story. The book itself is 96 pages, with half of those pages filled with pictures of seagulls in flight.
Heart of Darkness
Just because a book is now labeled a classic doesn’t mean it deserves the title. “Heart of Darkness” is Conrad's most well-known book and often a required reading for high school and college students. It was also partially adapted to the big screen as “Apocalypse Now.”
The book follows Marlow as he travels through Africa in search of Kurtz. As Marlow continues through the Congo, he begins learning more about this new continent and uncovering truths about Kurtz.
Despite its short length, Conrad's prose seems to drag endlessly, making the 100 pages feel like 1,000. This is due in part to his dense writing style that is not only full of imagery but metaphors as well. More than that, the racism imbued throughout the book makes this a hard read. Yes, the book is a product of its time, and it could be argued Conrad was simply shining a light on the inherent racism of Europe's imperialism.
The Pilot’s Wife
Being a best-selling book and on Oprah’s reading list doesn’t necessarily mean a book is well-written. This is a perfect example. The book focuses on Kathryn Lyon, a woman who lost her pilot husband during a crash. She soon learns he wasn’t who she thought and goes on a mission to uncover his secrets.
While the premise might sound interesting, the actual execution falls flat. The writing style is dull and lacks flair. The love story that develops later on is unnecessary and awkward. Even the twists are predictable. If you’re looking for a book that will keep you guessing or stay with you long after you’ve read it, you should avoid this.
Written before Fielding became a household name with “The Bridget Jones’s Diary,” “Cause Celeb” has none of the wit or sparkle. In this book, you follow Rosie as she embarks on a personal journey through the deserts of Africa until she settles at a refugee camp in the fictional state of Nambula. As eccentric as her neighbors might be, she comes to view them as family.
When disease and starvation become an immediate threat, she enlists the help of her friends in London to bring attention to the issues. Despite the promising premise, the book lacked developed characters and plotline. There are no clever or insightful looks into the human psyche you might expect. Instead, the characters are all shallow, and the African setting acts as a backdrop to Rosie's love life. The story acts as the same white savior narrative it criticizes.
Don’t believe us on this list? You can purchase all of these books at your local bookstore, or you can download them from Amazon or Barnes and Noble. Not all of these books are available in every country due to geo-restrictions, so you might want to use a Virtual Private Network service if you are living or traveling in one of these areas and want to see how bad these books are.
Have you read any of these books? What other books do you think should be on this list? Let us know in the comments!
About the Author: Cassie is a freelance writer who loves books as much as she loves technology. She believes everyone around the globe should have access to the best and worst books.