Most Disappointing Books of 2022

One year I would love to say that I enjoyed all the books that I read, rendering writing a version of this post unnecessary. Unsurprisingly, that wasn’t the case in 2022. Although I only overall disliked one of the books that I completed and chose to read for enjoyment, I also decided not to finish other four, since I had no hope that they would still manage to grip me. This is a lower number than in the year before, however, which I’m pleased about. There were other books that I read in full that I wouldn’t recommend, but they were passable and not as disappointing as the five below.

 

Memento Mori by Muriel Spark

When I decided to read Memento Mori by Muriel Spark, I thought it would be a gripping, gloomy mystery. After all, 75-year-old Dame Lettie Colston was receiving anonymous calls from a man who only said “remember you must die”. Instead, it is a book whose main focus is old age and its hardships, fear of dying and the inevitability of death. These could have been interesting subjects to read about had they been explored in a story that wasn’t fragmented, tedious and with almost no character development.

 

Normal People by Sally Rooney

I debated whether to read Normal People for a long time. After reading many reviews and not being captivated by the adaptation, I was unsure if it was a book for me. I was convinced, however, that it was a book I would read until the end even if I ended up not enjoying it. That was not the case, though. I only read around 100 pages. Continue reading

Advertisement

Most Disappointing Books of 2021

When I pick up a new book, I obviously expect to enjoy reading it. That doesn’t always happen, however. Throughout 2021, I read some books that disappointed me greatly, because I either didn’t like them at all or I just couldn’t bother finishing them. Some of the books that I decided not to finish were massive, so the possibility of slogging through them felt even more like a waste of time. The seven books mentioned below didn’t work for me sadly, but that doesn’t mean that other readers won’t find them amazing. The first two I rated with 2 stars, while the other five I decided not to read until the end.

 

A Máquina de Joseph Walser (Joseph Walser’s Machine) by Gonçalo M. Tavares

Joseph Walser worked in a factory owned by the mogul Leo Vast. He operated a machine that demanded his full attention. His personal life was not immune to complications, as his wife was having an affair with his manager. Sadly, it’s difficult to care about the characters, since their emotions and tribulations are never properly delved into. Although this short book by Gonçalo M. Tavares is promising at first, it quickly becomes a lacklustre collection of jumbled thoughts.

 

O Irmão Alemão (My German Brother) by Chico Buarque

Chico Buarque drew inspiration from his family history to write this novella. When Francisco de Hollander, the narrator and main character, realised that he had a brother in Germany, he became obsessed with discovering what had happened to him. The premise is certainly intriguing. However, the pacing is infuriating, the story feels disjointed, and the ending is not impactful. Continue reading

Most Disappointing Books of 2020

As much as I would love to enjoy all of the books that I pick up, that is sadly not the case. Although I liked the vast majority of the books that I read in 2020, some of them were definitely disappointing. Two of the three books mentioned below I didn’t even finish, seeing that I had no hope that they would grip me at any point. This is (obviously!) not an attack on any of the authors. I even liked all of the other books that I read in the past by one of them. It’s impossible for a book to impress all readers. Just because I didn’t cherish reading these books, it doesn’t mean that others won’t.

 

The Awakening by Kate Chopin

The main character of this novella, Edna Pontellier, is a married woman with two children who started to break with conventions after becoming infatuated with another man. Despite understanding the importance of this book as a work of early American feminism, I didn’t like it. The resolution is not satisfying and even seems to contradict the questions raised throughout. There aren’t also enough details, the characters are not fully fledged, and the writing style is for the most part dull.

 

Lillias Fraser by Hélia Correia

I was so eager to like Lillias Fraser by the Portuguese author Hélia Correia that I even tried to read it twice. Unfortunately, it wasn’t working for me, so I decided not to finish it for good after a second attempt. Partially set in Scotland in 1746, it has as main character Lillias, the daughter of Tom Fraser. Having had a vision of her father dying, she ran away during the battle of Culloden. She then managed to leave Scotland with the help of Anne MacIntosh. Continue reading

Most Disappointing Books of 2019

Every year there are books that I hope to at least mildly enjoy but that end up being disappointing for a variety of reasons. 2019 was sadly full of those books. And they were not disappointing in the sense that I only didn’t love them as much as I was expecting to. I truly didn’t like them. Some I read in their entirety and rated with two stars, while others I decided not to finish, as I had no hope to start enjoying them at any point.

First, there were three books that I read until the very end but that I didn’t like.

 

The Wicked Cometh by Laura Carlin

Two women, Hester and Rebekah, who are developing feelings for one another, try to discover why people are disappearing around London in 1831. The premise sounded promising. However, there is no aura of mystery throughout the book, in part because the descriptions are soulless. The plot is unjustifiably meandering. Some events are completely unnecessary for the clarification of what is supposed to be the main mystery. And there is also too much telling and not enough showing. I only kept reading because I was mildly curious to know the reason behind the disappearances. Continue reading

Most Disappointing Books of 2018

Wouldn’t it be fantastic if we liked all the books that we read? Unfortunately, that is not the case. A book will end up being disappointing sooner or later, either because it was not what we had expected or it didn’t live up to its initial promise. In 2018, I rated three books with 2 stars and didn’t finish other two. For the first time, I’m also mentioning the books that I didn’t read until the end on my most disappointing books of the year, since that is a genuine sign of lack of enjoyment.

 

Panorama by Dusan Sarotar

The narrator of Panorama is a writer from Slovenia who travelled around Europe and spoke with immigrants from various countries of origin. Sadly, it is unnecessarily confusing, and I found it almost impossible to retain information. The characters are forgettable and the writing style excruciating.

 

A Sibila by Agustina Bessa-Luís

This book by the Portuguese writer Agustina Bessa-Luís revolves around Quina, whose characteristics are enumerated by the narrator but never truly shown in practice. The characters are not well developed and the writing style feels forced. To make things worse, nothing particularly remarkable happens plot-wise. Continue reading

Most Disappointing Books of 2017

Unfortunately, we, readers, not always enjoy the books we decide to pick up. Irrespective of how much research we do on a book, our expectations may end up not being met. In 2016, the year I started blogging, I read two books that disappointed me, although I didn’t completely dislike them. They were just tolerable reads I was expecting to like much more than I actually did. This year, however, I can surely say I didn’t like three of the books that I read.

 

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

The main character in this novel, Jim Hawkins, unknowingly joins a group of pirates in search of Captain Flint’s hidden treasure. I was hoping for a thrilling adventure, but instead I got a joyless bland story, which I, nevertheless, managed to read until the end.

 

Homens Imprudentemente Poéticos by Valter Hugo Mãe

After liking A Desumanização by the Portuguese author Valter Hugo Mãe, I was expecting to also enjoy this novel about two Japanese neighbours, Itaro and Saburo, who are in open conflict. But my expectations were completely misplaced. The plot didn’t appeal to me at all and the writing style completely overpowered the story. Its pretentiousness even irked me in some instances. Continue reading