Worst books I read this year

I have a month to go in the year, yes, but I am pretty sure this list is solid. Here are the worst books I read in 2012, ranked in order of how much I hated them.


  1. Swamplandia!, Karen Russell
  2. Salvage the Bones, Jesmyn Ward
  3. NW, Zadie Smith
  4. The Savage Detectives, Roberto Bolaño
  5. At Home, Bill Bryson
  6. The White Tiger, Aravind Adiga
  7. I Sailed with Magellan, Stuart Dybek
  8. Under the Net, Iris Murdoch
  9. Unaccustomed Earth, Jhumpa Lahiri
  10. Doting, Henry Green
  11. Arcadia, Tom Stoppard
  12. Under the Volcano, Malcolm Lowry
  13. Kitchen, Banana Yoshimoto
  14. Snow, Orhan Pamuk
  15. The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, Gertrude Stein
  16. Amongst Women, John McGahern
  17. Madeleine Is Sleeping, Sarah Shun-lien Bynum

Madeleine is Sleeping

There are some much-beloved names on this list, I know, but I just have to be honest with you, faceless Internet readers. Wanna fight with me about some of these? I am up for it.

Otherwise, what were some of the worst books you read this past year?

7 thoughts on “Worst books I read this year

  1. I’m so surprised you didn’t enjoy the stories in Unaccustomed Earth! A think a few of them are on the weaker side, but most of them worked, were soundly written and easy to relate to. Did you not like all of them?

  2. I enjoyed At Home. It was a bit long-winded, but very interesting. If you ever read any more Gertrude Stein, you’ll find that Autobiography is actually the most manageable of the bunch. Seriously, don’t even mention the title Tender Buttons to me. Blech.

    I like your idea of doing “worst” book list. Everyone always seems to do a “best” list, but don’t we want to know what books to avoid, too?

  3. Why didnt you like the White Tiger? Just curious, because I had mixed feelings about it. I read it while in India and I think it really opened my eyes to a lot of things I would otherwise have missed, but wondering what turned you off about it…

  4. Ouch… several of the book club books! At least Wendell is safe, since this is not a list of most-hated essays. Kinda surprised Don Postema did not make an appearance 🙂

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