15 Popular Books That Are Largely Disliked

Behold the world of best sellers where critics and readers don’t see eye-to-eye. Despite the overwhelming reception of specific titles, the mass of upset readers is hard to overlook. From dull writing to redundant cliches, it’s clear that not all acclaimed titles are masterpieces.

1. Life of Pi — Yann Martel

Life of Pi — Yann Martel
Image Credit: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Critical acclamation may have set the expectations for this one too high. The story is far-fetched, and the bad writing can make the ending feel incredibly drawn out. Overall, the plot is unbelievable, making it hard for many readers to buy the author’s story.

2. Jane Eyre — Charlotte Bronte

Jane Eyre — Charlotte Bronte
Image Credit: Penguin.

The dislike for this book is driven by how one perceives Jane. On the one hand, she represents independence and strength. On the other hand, she can appear whiny and subservient to Rochester, her love interest. The contrast between her boldness and submission can make her seem inconsistent.

3. Fifty Shades of Grey — E.L. James

Fifty Shades of Grey — E.L. James
Image Credit: Vintage.

Many readers draw parallels between this book and the Twilight series, pointing out the similarities between Christian Grey and Edward Cullen. While the male protagonist’s obsession with the female lead, Ana, is portrayed as romantic, many find it a distasteful masking of abusive behavior.

4. Gone Girl — Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl — Gillian Flynn
Image Credit: Broadway Books.

Gone Girl is a book that makes readers uneasy with its unlikeable characters. Any popular media that doesn’t offer the audience a character to root for is often scrutinized. However, such complex writing makes the text come to life, and the accompanying uneasiness should be embraced rather than repelled.

5. Throne of Glass — Sarah J. Maas

Image Credit: Bloomsbury YA.

The premise of an assassin girl trying to kill her way to freedom is an overused plot line. A witty, sarcastic protagonist has long been the defining facet of young adult fiction, so it’s no surprise that readers wanted something more refreshing than this story.

6. The Great Gatsby — F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby — F. Scott Fitzgerald
Image Credit: Scribner.

Although this text is a literary classic taught in many classes, it is met with mixed reactions. Themes of grandiosity and the superficial charm of certain characters can leave a bad taste in the reader’s mouth. Let’s not forget the abundance of unlikeable characters that are annoying as you flip through the pages.

7. The Da Vinci Code — Dan Brown

Image Credit: Anchor.

Despite its popularity, the Birmingham City Council points out The Da Vinci Code was banned in several countries due to its anti-Christian sentiment. While some may find the story interesting, it’s hard to overlook the historical inaccuracies sprinkled through the text.

8. Eat, Pray, Love — Elizabeth Gilbert

Eat, Pray, Love — Elizabeth Gilbert
Image Credit: Riverhead Books.

The critique for this book is a bit tricky because bad writing isn’t the issue. It’s the lack of connection between the author and the reader. For most, the journey of “self-discovery” through exploring foreign countries is unrealistic. The story is also self-centered, alienating many readers from the narrative.

9. Lord of The Flies — William Golding

Lord of The Flies — William Golding
Image Credit: The Putnam Publishing Group.

Although a much-taught piece, Lord of The Flies has a knack for making readers uncomfortable. The controversy likely stems from Golding’s bleak portrayal of human nature. However, as expected, this piece of fiction can’t be expected to mirror reality as the world does not conform to black-and-white principles.

10. The Alchemist — Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist — Paulo Coelho
Image Credit: HarperCollins.

It’s hard not to have come across this title during your reading journey. While the message of following your dreams is wholesome, the idealism in Coelho’s work rubs some people the wrong way. The book’s message may seem impractical and, thus, create a disconnect from the readers.

1. Twilight — Stephenie Meyer

Image Credit: Little, Brown and Company.

What better way to start the list than by mentioning Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series? Although many lazy tropes in the book can be excused since the author is targeting a younger audience, most readers will find the lack of depth in the overall story a downer. When talking about Meyer, the legendary Stephen King said, “She’s not very good.”

2. The Catcher in The Rye — J.D. Salinger

The Catcher in The Rye — J.D. Salinger
Image Credit: Back Bay Books.

This title has received mixed reviews due to its explicit themes. The Observer mentions that liking this book is commonly seen as a red flag because of the problematic characters and values. However, one does not need to agree with the author’s thinking to enjoy other aspects of a text.

13. Atlas Shrugged — Ayn Rand

Atlas Shrugged — Ayn Rand
Image Credit: Plume.

Despite being a popular title, Atlas Shrugged is one of the most controversial books you’ll ever read. As The Guardian points out, the text’s promotion of rational self-interest as the ideal worldview is not the most conventional approach. Hence, it’s upsetting for many readers with drastically different values.

14. The Old Man and the Sea — Ernest Hemingway

The Old Man and the Sea — Ernest Hemingway
Image Credit: Scribner.

There’s no denying Hemingway’s literary prowess. However, when it comes to The Old Man and the Sea, there’s one strong criticism: it’s painfully dull. For some readers, the writing can feel too long despite the book’s short length.

15. Ulysses — James Joyce

Image Credit: Wordsworth.

The dislike for this title has little to do with Joyce’s competency and brilliance but more with the writing. Thanks to its length and wordplay, this text is a chore for an average reader. The difficult writing may be stimulating for some, but it is undoubtedly not everyone’s cup of tea.

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