The best part of being a bookworm on social media is the thousands and thousands of book recommendations everywhere. But sometimes, we read a book and we think: Why didn’t anybody warn me about this? Why didn’t somebody stop me from reading this book? This has crossed my own mind multiple times but then again, it’s not a book blogger’s responsibility, really. They can only warn you against it and maybe say, “Don’t read it”. But other than that, it’s all up to the reader, what they want to read.
As a book blogger on multiple platforms, I love giving out book recommendations. But these above thoughts came to my mind recently, out of the blue. And I thought, okay, let me do the opposite of what I’ve been doing so far. Let me do an anti book recommendations list in which I share the books that I would NEVER recommend. So I came up with this idea and did a whole video about it too. If you’d like to go check it out, here’s the link: Anti Book Recommendations by The Melodramatic Bookworm.
This list contains some of the worst books I’ve ever read. For this, too, I will give out a disclaimer: These are my opinions and mine alone. If there’s a book on this list that you love, it is not meant to be a personal attack. Everybody has a different taste and a way of interpretation and I hope this will be respected. 🙂
1. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson
This is an obvious first. If you follow my YouTube channel, you’ll know that I did a one-hour-long rant review of this book where I dissected it thoroughly. Of course, comments ranging from, “You didn’t understand the book and that’s why you didn’t like it” to “You’re not an intellectual” to “You’re dumb” popped up from time to time. But hey! If you have to insult someone just because they didn’t like your favorite book, then maybe a little introspection is in order.
But The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck is filled with the phrases, ‘don’t give a f*ck’ or ‘not giving a f*ck’, as if saying this over and over again will force people to actually not give a f*ck. And then there is the white male privilege talking through the solutions the author lists out. So condescending, so insensitive! He tells a grieving father that it’s his fault he isn’t getting over his son’s death. That was the last straw for me. I mean, there were many straws, but this point was where I knew that no matter what this author wrote from now on, I wouldn’t like it.
To be fair, this book has helped a lot of people in their lives and I’m happy for those who have found value in it, as long as they haven’t turned into the snobs Manson asks the reader to be. But a self-help book that talks down to the reader? Nuh-uh. Not my cup of coffee!
2. Think With Me by Saharasri Subrata Roy Sahara
As an influential person in India, Subrata Roy Sahara had some responsibility when it came to asking people to ‘think with him’. But unfortunately, his autobiography only made me fume because of how condescending and classist it is. He disses on the poor, is arrogant to a T, and while some things he says may be relevant, most of the book is brash, thoughtless, and rude. Look at this:
“Even if I had produced 10 children, I would have given those many good citizens to the country because God has given me the financial and social capability to do so. We stopped at two but on the other hand, around 10 children are being born to single parents on the roads and in slums.”
The absolute audacity! Apparently he and his family is ‘good quality’ population and that much of India has a “bad quality” population that is an obstacle to economic development. Are we talking about fruits here? No! It’s people we are talking about. He doesn’t understand the concept of circumstances and how they can play such a big hand in forcing people into the place they are. Either way, he is no one to pass judgment on another’s position in life.
Phew! I did a full blog rant on this a few years ago. Here’s the link: Think With Me.
3. Wetlands by Charlotte Roche
This was a book that I was forced to read by a Bookstagram friend because he knew I would be disgusted by it. Sure enough, I was disgusted and also pissed off, because there are so many good books and stories out there and THIS gets optioned and published? By a HUGE global publisher no less!
Perhaps the whole point of the book was to make conversations about women’s bodies a norm, and the intent is admirable, I’ll say this much. But it can be done without being disgusting. Why would you talk about poop and pee and kidney stones (?) and call it being progressive? There’s a tasteful way of writing about all of this, but this book is not it. I just don’t know how else to say that this book is bad and that please stay away from it if this is a kind of thing you’re grossed out by. It’s just…ugh.
4. Trail of Broken Wings by Sejal Badani
Another book that I did a long-ass rant blog post about. This is supposed to be a family drama in which every single character is unlikeable. The problem isn’t the unlikeability of the characters. It is that they are obnoxious and there’s absolute no redemption arc for any of them. And if there isn’t going to be any improvement or change and if the story stagnates, then I don’t see why I have to read about characters being rude and arrogant all throughout.
The worst part of the book, for me, was when the author wrote this: “But she rejected the one thing that promised her everything – a child.” As if without a child, the woman is incomplete. As if the woman wasn’t doing her “duty” by not having a child. As if having a child is the whole reason behind a woman’s existence. This not only angered me because it was a third-person narrator which sort of generalizes this kind of things, but I also sighed, because as I mentioned in a previous blog post, I’m exhausted by society and its hypocrisy. Maybe I was just hoping that a woman author would move away from all this trite stuff, but then I remembered that conditioning exists and I went, “Ah, yes, of course.”
5. I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes
Here it comes. The sexist pile of 800 pages that I read 70 pages of and immediately DNFed. Right off the bat, the main character is shown as a self-important, macho guy who, I guessed, is the only one who can deal with the situation at hand. Obviously, duh! But this isn’t my problem, really. What pissed me off is the author’s treatment of women. And if I’m saying this after 70 pages, imagine the extent to which the author went. I stuck sticky note after sticky note with my comments. The book is now with a friend and I don’t know what she has made of it. 😛
But here’s a gist of what this waste of paper said:
A woman, no matter how successful, will have gotten to her position using her seductive skills. A woman, no matter how successful, needs to be described based on her clothes and how much cleavage she is showing whereas a man will be described by his personality and traits. A woman, no matter how successful, will use her “wiles” (how I hate that word!) to get her work done whereas a man won’t. You see the pattern here?
6. Fate of Eight by Dhiraj Singh
Another book that I can, without hesitation, say is one of the worst books I’ve ever read, and another DNF, like I Am Pilgrim. If there was a book that evoked anger in me that I could throw off a cliff, this would be it.
It starts off ‘strong’ with a man’s wife dying in childbirth and this ding-dong of a man saying something on the lines of, “Now who will take care of my child?” Note the “my child” and the pure arrogance ringing through it.
And just like I Am Pilgrim, this bunch of sexist, misogynistic words thinks that women are just there for decorative purposes and that if they get ahead in their profession, it’s because they seduce the more qualified men on their way. From politicians to engineers, every single woman in here is described in terms of how they look or what kind of a body they have, while the men are qualified or motivated or ambitious or any of the hundreds of adjectives used to describe a personality. Gah, the memory itself is giving me the creeps.
7. Peter Pan by JM Barrie
Okay, this is one that I’m going to get flak for, I think, because this is a widely-loved children’s book. But that’s exactly my problem with it, that a book in which a boy-hero, who is immensely disdainful of female people, is hero-worshipped to no end. Plus, showing Tinker Bell as the epitome of all femalehood, by saying that all women are attention-seeking brats and when they don’t, they huff angrily and throw tantrums, is just beyond my range of acceptance.
Why would you put all of this in children’s heads? Why would you tell them, even in masked words, that women are supposed to be one way? Don’t slot us, for God’s sake! We’ve had enough.
8. Revolution 2020 by Chetan Bhagat
The thing about Chetan Bhagat books is that they follow a recipe. A small-town guy comes to a big city, falls in love with an intelligent working woman, but then since she is a city woman, there is also another man in the equation, and now this fellow laments this betrayal. What misogyny, what sexism, what patriarchal conditioning and expectations!
Revolution 2020 is the ‘pinnacle’ of this recipe, if you know what I mean. I remember cringing as I read this book because of how lightly it takes a woman’s career and feelings. It’s the man’s ‘I, Me, Myself’ all along while he has expectations from women that she HAS to fulfil and if she doesn’t, then oh! He’s going to drink himself into a stupor and she’s going to be the reason behind his ‘downfall’. Stop using women just to further a man’s story instead of showing them as their own characters, man!
9. Star Daughter by Shveta Thakrar
I let out a bark of laughter as I reached this point, because I remembered how much I disliked this book. For a fantasy based on Hindu mythology, this promises the stars and ends up languishing in the depths of the oceans. To be fair, I love the concept of nakshatras and music making up the plot. But the execution is just so bad! The way it weaves the story as if catering to white audiences – and I’ve seen so many white people love this book, no shade to them – is just plain exhausting. Because we’ve got to stop doing this! Write a book that represents us, not because you want to cater to the white readership, but because you want to tell a story.
And that climax! It was such a big nope for me, because to put this story together of a girl wanting to find her ‘star’ identity and then bringing everything to a head in such an underwhelming manner just betrays the story and the people you are telling it for. Either way, this was one of my biggest disappointments of 2021. Not for me, no ma’am.
10. Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit
To be fair, this isn’t a bad book. But when a book on feminism has ‘not all men’ undertones, it just doesn’t work for me. I’ve said this time and again: feminism is nothing to be ashamed or apologetic about. When I started this book, I was optimistic as to finding a new perspective on the topic or more details or experiences about the ‘phenomenon’ called mansplaining that so many men indulge in day in and day out. While there was quite a bit of it, it came with a mildly apologetic tone. The number of times the author has mentioned that she knows that not all men are like this, takes away the relevance of the point that she is trying to make.
I wouldn’t say that this is one of the worst books I’ve ever read but then again, it is disappointing to no end and defeats the purpose of talking about feminism. And that’s why I’ll not recommend this book, even though I know that there are some points of light in there and even though it is considered a good starting point for books on feminism.
So those were my anti book recommendations, some of the worst books I’ve ever read. Which of these have you read? Which do you agree with? Which do you disagree with? Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you!
I’ll be back soon with a new blog post.
Until next time, keep reading, and add melodrama to your life. 🙂
(And stay away from these books, please. :P)