I just finished the fourth novel in Elena Ferrante’s brilliant Neapolitan series, The Story of a Lost Child. I’m obsessed with these books. I’m obsessed with Ferrante. There isn’t enough hype in the world for these books. If you haven’t read them do it now. Drop work, school, life, your baby and grab these books.
This made me wonder… which books aren’t worth the hype? For me these ones didn’t live up to expectations:
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
I read The Secret History years ago and was duly impressed by Tartt’s ability to weave a yarn. I eagerly rushed out to grab a copy of The Goldfinch – lauded by many critics as Tartt’s magnum Opus and deserving of any and all accolades (even if the Booker committee didn’t agree) that could be thrown at it.
This one really didn’t do anything for me. Maybe expectations were too high but I just found it… boring. I didn’t hate, I just thought it was spectacularly forgettable.
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
This one was the favourite to win the Booker in 2015 and I do love a big, depressing novel so naturally I hunted this one down.
I HATED this novel. Started strong and I was captivated by the idea of following the different threads of the four men’s lives. But alas, it was not to be. Reading this book is an exercise in masochism. Imagine everything horrible that could ever happen. Now imagine it all happening to the same person without a hint of irony. Brutal. And I usually like brutal but this was unnecessarily depressing.
Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
“I read Shantaram while travelling around India and it changed my life.”
Go on GDR’s website and read some of his poetry. I’ll just wait here. Good – have you finished. Imagine reading that terrible writing for 800+ pages.
1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
The magnum opus of the oft toted next Nobel Prize Winner – Murakami. I love love love love Kafka On The Shore. I’ve read maybe 5 or 6 other books by Murakami and I’ve come to the conclusion that his whole oeuvre is probably overrated. 1Q84 was particularly painful for me (see any sex scene in it and you’ll understand why). I’m not sure if this is an issue in translation or just an issue with Murakami.
Do you disagree with my list? Which books would you put on your own list of disappointments?