#25 TRENDING IN Books & Writing 🔥

5 Books Everyone Loves That I Couldn't Get Through

Books & Writing

November 24, 2023

With the winter holidays just around the corner (can you tell how impatient I am?), #BookTok has been on fire recommending new books in preparation for warm and cozy evenings spent on the couch, steaming hot chocolate in hand. While some popular books are applauded for weeks and weeks, every digital and physical copy on hold in every library for months and months to come, others…are buried beneath the mountains of new bestsellers and forgotten within minutes.

Here are some of my personal book pet-peeves, or books that (for some reason I cannot comprehend) did manage to survive the scrutinising eye of the most critical readers…for what I believe are all the wrong reasons. Here's my hot take- take it with a grain of salt, and do with it what you wish.

#1 The Love Hypothesis

Even though I did physically get to the last page of this book, mentally, I was so out of it. While I was struggling to get through the short and choppy sentences, my mind kept flashing back to the movie "To All the Boys I've Loved Before." All I could think about was even though the narrator herself acknowledges she's living a "fake dating that leads to romance" trope, the entire book just felt like a plagiarised version of the book + some medical jargon. Although I understand the hype over Adam's treatment of Olive, which is totally #relationshipgoals, it's not like the average teen reader hasn't read the same supposedly "wooing" lines about a million times.

Additionally, the fake dating trope felt so out of place in this high-stakes academic setting. The amount of time Olive spends in the lab + the time she spends with Adam, texting Adam, and even thinking and drooling over Adam seems impossible. Olive never appears overworked or stressed about her relationship's interference with her lab work, which I believe the author could have addressed and developed as the topic never seems to be addressed in literature--somehow, all these power couples are holding their partner's hand with one hand and saving the world with the other. Overall, had the author's writing been perhaps a bit more warm and flowy, perhaps I could have overlooked the hyper-cliché book trope. Still, it was just an overall bland mess of undeveloped ideas and perhaps even a little bit of plagiarism. I can even imagine the author writing the book right after watching "To All the Boys" as just a spur-of-the-moment thing, with no idea that her little draft would become a national bestseller.

#2 Bridget Jones's Diary

Every chapter starts off with the narrator's weight, a snarky comment about any gain, or a vibrant huzzah! About any pounds dropped, an alarming number of cigarettes smoked, alcoholic drinks consumed, and some other typically unhealthy but consistent habit, depending on the next chapter's focus. And yet, none of these statistics are ever fully addressed.

Bridget's weight goes down, down, down, and then up, up, and higher than the book's beginning weight. However, she's got a man by the end of the book, so she almost forgets her previous concerns. I found the book rather wishy-washy, like my life or any average life- it's mundane, and it's supposed to be that way, or otherwise, we'd never catch a break. However, I don't especially want to read about someone's mundane life- I have my own boringness to flourish in; I don't need to bask in someone else's. I'd much rather read about someone who is perhaps boring but also consequential, someone who stops smoking by the end of the book, or at least someone who acknowledges that it's probably not to smoke a pack almost daily. Don't get me wrong- it's probably a very accurate portrayal of life that is often boring and not too dramatic- but this book seemed to have a subtle edge to it like Bridget was just going to drop dead at any minute. It was a very strange read. I kept waiting for something to happen-something bad, honestly, since she's rather negative- but nothing ever did. She gets a guy by the end, and that's about it. Huzzah for her.

#3 Frankly in Love

This book is one of the special few I do not get halfway through. The writing was just, it was just something else entirely. I entered this book expecting an exciting coming-of-age story, one that finally acknowledged the struggle between culture inside and outside the home of many immigrant families, a struggle that I could personally relate to, but instead, this felt superficial, almost fake.

I felt the author couldn't connect with the narrator; the narrator didn't seem to have any opinions or set mindset. I understand that he's still figuring himself out, but I often find that it's really easy for writers to forget that their narrator is also a person and not just a silent observer. Frank, or Sung-Min, had so much life and family outside of himself- but inside, he was probably a desert. I found I had begun to detest him for his incapability to pick or choose any personality and thus returned the book to the library without looking back. Such a great idea for a story totally spoiled with lukewarm writing and yawning characters- what a shame!

#4 Charlotte's Web

I vaguely remember everyone in my 4th- 5th-grade class obsessing over this book and begging their parents to buy them a nice little copy. At the same time, I simply stared at Wilbur and Charlotte and wondered what in the world could be so fascinating about a pig and spider. Maybe it was because I was reading Animal Farm around that time and thus hated pigs and farms, but this book left no lasting impact.

I hated how inconsequential Fern ended up; even after saving Wilbur from death, she still got no real ending of her own and instead spent a lot of time away from the farm as she "matured." Charlotte's death, as terribly heart-wrenching as it was, was not enough to make me truly love this book, and I simply could not stand Wilbur's whining. All I could really think about was how spiders could make balloons and fly through the air, meaning that NOWHERE WAS SAFE (I hate spiders). Also, this book is clearly an oldie; some of the language is rather dated, and many of the characters are given very stereotypically masculine/feminine roles that detract from the main problem of Charlotte and Wilbur and the farm. In short, there are too many problems for one children's book with rather bland writing.

#5 Lord of the Flies

I know this book is supposed to take the reader's galaxies away from their comfort zone. I know it's supposed to be very philosophical and reflective, but I just found this book extremely disturbing. None of the characters deserved even an ounce of sympathy, and I truly can't say I sat for a while thinking over my life and reflecting on society.

I did, however, sit for a while and think about all the other warm and fuzzy books I could have been reading instead of this cold and inscrutable nightmare. As raw as they often are, books like these do not have to be this unapproachable. Honestly, if this book were a person, I would sprint away in the other direction and detest running of any speed or duration. There is not a single female character in this, a plethora of gruesome body shaming- not one source of relief. It was just hopelessness, on and on- no optimism or hope for anyone. I believe the author could have definitely had some sort of resolution to leave readers feeling at least a little satisfied- the hopelessness I felt after reading about a quarter of the way through made the book truly repulsive, as though it had a terrible smell. Don't get me wrong- I'm all in for a good old tragedy, such as Atonement (which I loved!), but this was too gruesome to even make a single tear fall.

And with that, my wittingly picky and painful close reading comes to an end. I'm not a big fan of reading bestsellers, so with these reviews, I've realized just how few classics and popular YA books I've actually read. For this article, I had to scramble over to my not-so-up-to-date Goodreads account and try to match up the hottest titles with what I've been reading lately, which I'm realizing is a lot of random and obscure books from the 2000s (I'm reading Old School by Tobias Wolff right now, and let me tell you, it deserved that Faulkner award.) Now, I'm hurrying off to the library to read the chart-topping romance Book Lovers--maybe I'll discover that I've been missing out on the bestsellers (with my luck, that's likely). Besides, maybe I should give the Love Hypothesis another try…

Bianca Mints
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Bianca is a junior from Massachusetts. Outside of The Teen Magazine, Bianca is a reporter for Teens In Print, Boston's citywide high school newsletter. Outside of writing, she enjoys reading, spending time with her friends and family, and listening to Taylor Swift.