Worst of 2011: The Books… [FaN Boos]

Ernessa says: I’m going to make the caveat again that if I manage to get through a book, it must have something to recommend it. Life is short, and I’ve become rather good at putting down books I’m not enjoying. That claimed, this category was a bit difficult for me this year. Right now I’m slogging through the much-anticipated 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami, which started out fantastically but then got bogged down with tedious amounts of details and backstory. Still, unlike say, UNDER THE DOME by Stephen King, I suspect that this tome of a book is going to get much better. Also, it wouldn’t be fair to rate a book that I haven’t finished reading. So I’m going to go with the terribly disappointing, THE GREAT HOUSE by Nicole Krauss. Read my  August Book Report to get the full rant.

Just like last year, the only things we fierce nerds can’t agree on are which books sucked the worst. Though, in a happy surprise, unlike last year, only one book that I loved, showed up on this year’s Worst of List. Go HERE to read why THE EMPEROR OF ALL MALADIES was my favorite non-fiction book of 2011, and go below to see why Ryan Dixon did not feel the same way. 


I tried to read A TOUCH OF DEAD by Charlaine Harris, the Sookie Stackhouse book of short stories, in French and, while I really need to practice my French and am a fan of True Blood, it’s just too dumb.
Gudrun Cram-Drach from Secret Life of an Expat


ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER by Seth Grahame-Smith. I read this because of all the hype surrounding it. I found it uninspired and average at best.
CH from CH’s Picture of the Day
While the amount of research I do before purchasing books usually allows me to avoid true stink bombs, the most disappointing read for me this year was Siddhartha Mukherjee’s Pulitzer-prize winning biography of cancer, THE EMPEROR OF ALL MALADIES. I had fiercely anticipated this book for half a year before it was published, but in the end, I appreciated it more as a monument than an actual reading experience. It’s amazing that this subject hadn’t been tackled before in a vast canvass approach, but a lot of the time it still felt like I was reading a text book written by a really good novelist.

I know that one of Murkherjee’s major influences was Randy Shilts’ And the Band Played On, which was a much more gripping “read” (and far more emotionally devastating) thanks in part to Shilts’ skill at sliding the hard-science seamlessly into the narrative, wherein Emperor seemed awkwardly divided between “story” and “science.”
Ryan Dixon, FIERCE ANTICIPATION editor and writer of The Ryan Dixon Line
Note: Let me spin this category on its head. I’ve spent much of 2011 avoiding reading Tina Fey’s BOSSYPANTS because my expectations are so utterly astronomical, I can’t chance being disappointed. So, I guess you could say it’s my favorite book I haven’t read, and my least favorite book to risk reading. Still here’s hoping the hardcopy is under my tree on Christmas morning.

Sarah Fazeli from Bewitched, Bothered & Bewildered


This is difficult because if I hate something I tend to stop reading it, mainly because I have calculated about how much time I have left on this planet minus the time spent sleeping, driving, showering etc., and there is just not enough time to read badly written books.  Also, I get bored easily.  However I did skim BATTLE HYMN OF THE TIGER MOTHER by Amy Chua until I became sickened and filled with rage at the audacity and cruelty of people who think over-controlling their children leads to anything but lifelong resentment.  And nervous bowels.

Roya Hamadani from Fierce Foodie


HOW TO LIVE SAFELY IN A SCIENCE FICTIONAL UNIVERSE by Charles Yu.  Critics loved it.  At first read, I kind of liked it.  Now I admire it and really kind of dislike it.  I can’t really describe why without going into all sorts of detail.  Which might be why I dislike it.
Michael Kass from Single White Nerd


I didn’t hate anything this year. My least favorite reading experience this year would be MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA by Arthur Golden. I finally read it and… Wow. Just repetitive and dull.
Amy Robinson, Blogumnist Editor and writer of Tall Drink of Nerd


THE TRAGEDY OF ARTHUR by Arthur Phillips. Really this was just an excuse for author try to write a Shakespeare play, but he muddied it up with a cliche-riddled fictional memoir before it. It felt like intellectual masturbation without a climax (sorry…too much?).

Joe Rusin from On the Contrary
I will put in the book that I got almost all the way through here: SKINNY BITCH by Rory Freedman. I know it’s a bit older, but the information in that book will make you put down meat for good. Well, at least for 4 months, like I did. And that is why it’s my least favorite book… I don’t want to know the truth!!

Frankie V from Frankie Says…


THE SUN ALSO RISES - Ernest Hemmingway. If you’re an insufferable, rich, white, alcoholic, anti-Semitic whiner with no dick — this is the book for you! Otherwise, stay away. This is the sort of book that actually makes sitting on the toilet worse. Fuck you to the dude who forced us to read this for the book club. He hates Jews. (kidding!) (maybe)
Eric Sims from California Seething



THE BOOK OF MORMON by Joseph Smith (the source material for my favorite Book of the year)

Patrick Connolly from Piping Hot Nerd: Adventures of a Bagpiper Mastering Manhattan


FORGED: WRITING IN THE NAME OF GOD — WHY THE BIBLE’S AUTHORS ARE NOT WHO WE THINK THEY ARE by Bart D. Ehrman This is a fine book for anyone interested in the pseudonymous authorship of the New Testament (or the ancient world in general) but if you’re familiar with Ehrman’s previous work, this one is a bit redundant. Much like “Misquoting Jesus” was a less scholarly rewrite of “The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture”, “Forged” feels a little too familiar.



THE GOSPELS by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Just too many contradictions in the narrative to sweep me along for the ride.

R. B. Ripley from Hyperbolic Tendencies



SEE A LITTLE LIGHT: THE TRAIL OF RAGE AND MELODY by Bob Mould with Michael Azerrad. For some reason I thought i’d love this book, especially considering I love Bob Mould as a musician and DJ as well as us having the whole “Bear Community” thing as something in common…. alas, no. This book wasn’t the exciting memoir I had hoped for, instead it read like a long explanation of why he was better than his counterparts in Husker Du and why they will never reunite. Every fun story or interesting anecdote about his life in general or time in Husker Du was followed by some smug self indulgent reminder about how he has changed the history of music without even trying. In a memoir it is hard not to be a little self indulgent, but I don’t believe the word “humble”  appears anywhere near the printed pages of this book. We get it Bob, you won’t ever get back together and perform with Husker Du… We aren’t even asking you to.
Zack Bunker from Tall Glass of Shame and Runway Rundown


1999: VICTORY WITHOUT WAR by Richard Nixon.  Okay, after the initial novelty wore off, the dry subject matter and long drawn out sentences started to put a damper on the evening and Mr. “I am not a crook” had to go back on the shelf.
Jersey Joe from Kicking Back with Jersey Joe
and tango makes three by Justin Rischardson and Peter Parnell. Illustrated by Henry Cole. I don’t hate it because it’s about penguins, although I, unlike other people that find penguins adorable (see MARCH OF THE PENGUINS and/or HAPPY FEET 1 & 2 if you don’t believe me), find birds that can’t fly to be somewhat of an oxymoron, ostriches exempted. I don’t even hate the book because it’s a true story about gay penguins that tried to have their own baby penguin, but couldn’t because of you know, biology. And, I don’t even hate it because they left out what I find to be the funny part of the story – you know, the part about how after the zookeeper gives them an egg that needs a family and they do a good job at raising it, one of the penguins discovers that he’s not gay after all and starts up with a female penguin. I hate it because it’s one of my son’s favorite books even though it’s chock-full of thick paragraphs and requires an enormous time commitment to read once, let alone the three or four or more times it takes for a toddler to tire of being read to.

Josh Pullin from Stay-at-Home Dad

That STEVE JOBS book. Are we really so deep into commercialization that a book has to come out right when someone dies?  Come on, man.

Matt Udvari from Gamer by Design


I don’t read a lot, but I did hate this Rachel Ray cookbook I perused. I can hear how smug she is in the pages!



I did not buy any I did not like.

Missy Kulik from Dork Lifesyle