The Five Worst Books I’ve Loved

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I was having a chat with my mom the other day about the fact that I have never read Jane Eyre. I don’t know how I’ve managed to live this long as a book lover without having read Jane Eyre. I have a copy of it hanging around, but other books keep getting in the way. For instance, a new book about a sportswriter and his 13-year effort to out Lance Armstrong as a lying, cheating, remorseless bully has just been returned to the library and is waiting patiently for me to pick it up. Jane Eyre will have to wait (again).

My mom pointed out that even though she loves Jane Eyre and thinks I should read it right way, I have read a lot of classics that she hasn’t tackled yet. That led us to discussing the classics we like. And later, that led me to think about all the really awful books I’ve loved over the years. Books that I’ve (in some cases) read more than once. Books that I’ve hidden under the bed so no one would know I was reading them.

But no more. It’s liberating to stop living a lie. Here goes:

1) Blood Vessel – Paul Grescoe
I found this book in a dollar store in Huntsville, Ontario. It looked so ridiculous (and the price was right!) that I couldn’t resist it. The plot involved a murder on a cruise ship. Blood Vessel? Get it? Even though I normally hate punny titles and not-very-mysterious mysteries, something about this book was charming. Maybe it was the fact that the author is from Winnipeg, in friendly Manitoba. It’s a friendly book. Despite its many faults, it was just so likeable. Just like Winnipeg.

2) Phantoms – Dean Koontz
I read this book in high school while I was babysitting the children of my biology teacher. It’s a very silly book about (spoiler alert!) an ancient shapeshifter that devours an entire town (and possibly also the dinosaurs and the Mayans – I can’t quite remember). It’s silly in retrospect, but while I sat in that house alone (apart from some sleeping toddlers) it scared the heck out of me. Maybe everyone in my town is dead, too.

3) The Other Boleyn Girl – Philippa Gregory
I’m so embarrassed about this one. As a bit of a history buff (and an anglophile, as I’ve discussed elsewhere) I’m so ashamed of myself. This book is a complete travesty, as far as historical accuracy is concerned. It just find it so difficult not to devour books about the Tudors, even if it’s pulpy and fluffy and ridiculous.

4) Where the Heart Is – Billie Letts
Yes, this is the Oprah-approved book about the girl who gives birth in a Wal-Mart, and then makes a life for herself among the local quirky townsfolk with whimsical names. I should hate this book. I should hate everything about this book. But for some reason I don’t. I don’t want to delve too deeply into this.

5) The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
I don’t actually love the Da Vinci Code. In fact, I raged at it, all the way through. But I couldn’t put it down. I believe this is called “hate-reading.” The flat characters, the non-sensical theories, the pandering to ladies’ book clubs, all of it annoyed me. And yet I kept reading, and thinking, “Hey! I know that painting!” and “Hey! I’ve been to that famous landmark!” That Dan Brown is a diabolical fellow.

Don’t leave me here with my embarrassing book-shame all by myself. What are some books you’re loath to admit you loved?

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