The 5 Worst Books I Read in 2018

Monday, January 7, 2019

Photo by Tall Hair Creative

This post feels a little bit mean, but I suppose it's no meaner than sharing one-star reviews on Instagram, right? Like, this is how book reviews work. I'm just putting all of last year's one-star reviews in one place - my little attempt to keep you, my friends, from reading books that felt like a mistake of my reading time.

Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis

This book seemed to be so well-loved that I thought I'd give it a try, even though I could've known by the touchy-feely title that it wouldn't appeal to me. I didn't know who Hollis was, but I also feel like I somehow should've realized that she is an evangelical Christian woman writing for a Christian publishing imprint & that this book would therefore contain a great many eye-rolly platitudes, general sentiments/values with which I wholly disagree, & statements of unchecked privilege that are just not my jam - oh, & an entire chapter dedicated to fat-shaming.

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

Actually, I loved this book for, like, 90% of my reading of it... but I was so freaking angry about the ending that I ended up hating it. It felt so tacky & cheap & demeaning & made me so mad that I'd wasted my time. Before that, it was about two women who become friends despite the fact that one is secretly sleeping with the other's husband - or is it a secret at all? She begins to wonder what's happening in her friend's seemingly tumultuous relationship. But again: Though I can't say why without a total spoiler, let's just say that I hated this book by the end.

Sick: A Memoir by Porochista Khakpour

I'd looked forward to this book about one writer's struggle to be diagnosed with & to manage her Lyme disease - & while I hesitate to judge anyone's memoir, it was, in her own words in later interviews, "kind of messy." The look at chronic illness & traumatic brain injury was fascinating & painful, but I found the author so self-obsessed, shallow, & unlikable that it was a difficult, slog of a read. An editor should've done a lot more work on this one & perhaps held off on publication until the author was well enough to determine that this was, in fact, the version she wanted to show the world.

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

I find myself deeply angry that this book has received such acclaim & won so many awards because, in my view, it was all porn & gratuitous swearing, basically a sleazy romance novel attempting to disguise itself as something more. Stella, a successful businesswoman on the autism spectrum, wants to be better at sex so she can feel comfortable dating, which leads her to hire an attractive young escort to teach her - &, of course, they fall in love. It was a great idea for a premise - but it was executed with such trashiness that I couldn't even begin to enjoy it.

ETA: Small post-publication edit here, because apparently this review is upsetting people, which was not my intention. Look, I hated this book - really hated it. But I'm realizing that what really bothered me was that this book was marketed as a contemporary romance novel, not as a standard romance novel (which is what it was). If it had just been marketed as the latter, I wouldn't have picked it up, because romance novels aren't my jam. But the reviews made it seem like something it wasn't, which sort of tricked me into reading it, which I really don't like.

The Perfect Nanny by Leïla Slimani

I was intrigued by the premise: a beloved, caring nanny brutally murders the two children within her care - & no one knows why. The book opens with a violent scene, then moves into a plodding narration that I found tedious, cold, & distant. Perhaps this was due to the fact that the novel was translated into English from French - but even translation couldn't have changed the story's lackluster, dissatisfying ending. Skip this one, please. I wish I had - yes, even though the Washington Post named it one of the best books of 2018.

What's the worst book you read this year? Do you disagree with any of my one-star reviews? I know a lot of these ones were pretty popular with other folks! 

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