50 Famous 'Literary Masterpieces' That Actually Suck

50 Famous ‘Literary Masterpieces’ That Actually Suck

Ask Reddit is going to save you some time and some trouble by warning you which classics aren’t worth reading.

1. The Lord of the Rings. Those books go on forever. I’m shocked they were able to boil it down to just 3 movies.

2. This will be unpopular, but Game of Thrones. Everybody loves it so much and I just could not get more than about 40 pages in to the first book. I’ve read a lot of shit that doesn’t even qualify as writing, but the writing style in GoT was the wooooorst.

3. The Turn of the Screw. Considered one of the most influential early horror novels. It’s an incredibly tough slog. I did finish it and I get why it’s influential, but the language used really made it hard for me to enjoy it. It was released in 1898 and reads like it was written in 1598.

4. Pretty much anything by Faulkner because everything is a giant sentence with a bunch of superfluous words like in this sentence that I am typing out using an iPhone that has a nice cover and that whispers to me when an interesting comment has occurred on Reddit because I am a Reddit user and perhaps one day I will have the wit to use brevity and come up with an excellent question for r/askreddit but until that happens I, alas, will have to settle like river sediment for the banality of my comments.

5. Three times I have tried to tackle Infinite Jest, and three times I have been stymied. I can read immense, dry tomes and make my way through just fine, but for some reason I always peter out about halfway through this bad boy. I know people who love it. I know I probably *should* love it? I’ll probably give it one more try in ten years and then set my copy on fire.

6. Wicked. I used to have friends that went on and on about how great the book and play was. I have no idea if the play is any good, but trying to get through the book turned out to be an impossibility for me. I got through her childhood and college years before giving up finally and returning the book to the library.

7. Shakespeare counts right? Romeo and Juliet.

I love Shakespeare. I love MacBeth, Hamlet, Twelfth Night, Julius Caesar, Merchant of Venice, etc.

But Romeo and Juliet is a pointless story about incredibly stupid people.

8. Heart of freaking Darkness. For such a short novel, man it was a struggle to read.

9. The Awakening by Kate Chopin. It was really well written but oh my god every single character was so unbelievably obnoxious and selfish that I hated reading every second of it.

10. Dracula. It’s not a completely terrible book, it was just not what I was expecting and left me a bit disappointed. I was really excited to read it for a class in high school, but did not expect it to be in a the format of journal entries. It just wasn’t a style I particularly enjoyed. I can totally understand why it became such a classic though, it was almost like the Blair Witch Project of its time, like “found” footage in a way.

11. On the Road by Jack Kerouac. The Beat Generation can shove it up their arse.

12. It was the best of books; it was the worst of books. (A Tale of Two Cities, Dickens)

Tried to get through it a couple of times, and it’s just so goddamn boring.

13. Fahrenheit 451 I felt like the whole book was some sort of reddit edgy meme. Everyone circlejerking about how good it was but felt like a big in-joke about how “we read books, not like those brainwashed tools”. (spoilers) when the main character goes off the wall and murders his boss and starts his run from the law I thought the book was just starting to go somewhere until it abruptly ended.

The novel I purchased has tonnes of essays and opinion pieces printed after the story so when the book just…ended I thought I had another 100 pages to go and was confused.

14. House of Leaves. I tried to get into it, I really did, but the constant flipping back to the like 10 indexes and holding the book sideways and all that other nonsense had me like “reading this book is way too much work to be worth it; the protagonist isn’t compelling enough to make me want to do that work”

15. Grapes of wrath. Ugh. So much description of dust.

16. The Fault in Our Stars. The prose is distracting with its inconsistent tone, the plot has been done to death, and I couldn’t find it in me to like or sympathize with the main characters no matter how hard I tried. However, if I have to sum up what made me hate—yes, downright hate—this book, it all has to come down to this one word: PRETENTIOUS.

17. Of Mice and Men. I liked it the first time, a little bit, but having to study it in school killed any and all love I had for it.

18. Atwood’s The Handmaiden’s Tale. It’s currently my literary pet peeve as it could have been so much better. The world building was fascinating and compelling. A dystopian, neo-theocrastic American state born out of the environmentally related collapse of fertility rates. But there were just way too many coincidences used to drive and resolve the plot. It’s lazy writing.

19. War and Peace. Honestly I’ve never felt so disconnected from a reading in my entire life, and that is counting the back of shampoo bottles. Can’t bring myself to give a shit about any of the characters even if Tolstoy himself got out of the grave and said hey man can u give it a try

2o. Ulysses. I know a lot of it is cultural stuff that made sense back in the early 20th century when Joyce wrote it and that if I tried to understand its a masterpiece, but I just can’t get into it.

21. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. We had to read it my junior year of high school, and I just could not get through it. We had to do an essay on it, and I just wrote about how I didn’t like it, why I didn’t like it, and how I can see how people can enjoy it, it just wasn’t enjoyable for me. My teacher loved my paper.

22. The Hobbit. In fact, it’s not that I didn’t LIKE LotR, but I skipped over a lot. I don’t need 15 pages telling me nothing but how a forest looks, and I’m an avid reader.

23. The Giver; fucking hate that book and I had to read it like 3 times for school.

24. Enders game. I read it three times. Each time thinking I was just in a bad state of mind the previous time. I just can’t grasp how the military has all that technology and capability, but we’re going to gamble the hope of the human race on this kid. Not armies. Not design an A. I. To fight this war. Nah, we got a kid. It’s coo.

Oooo look. Special kid knows how to make friends. Oooo look. Special kid knows strategy. Ooo look special kid knows how to win a game. Ooo special kid is special. Unique. The one. Chosen one.

25. The Little Prince. I am half French and thus was at least somewhat curious about reading it but God damn was it boring. There was so much thought put into the overload of metaphors that Antoine forgot to actually write a half decent story.

26. Frankenstein. It is so dull.

27. Stranger in a Strange Land – meant to be a seminal Sci-fi work, but the fact it took me 4 attempts to get past the first couple of chapters should have been a red flag for me. I got to the end, annoyed I’d wasted time on it. I don’t like to write in books but I left this one in my hotel room with the inscription “good luck!”.

28. I don’t know if The Republic by Plato is a masterpiece but I read somewhere it’s a very important book. It’s just Socrates disagreeing with everyone.

29. Grapes of Wrath. Like, it’s well written and all that but I had to first read it for school back when I preferred fantasy stories. A tale of perpetual suffering that eventually leads to some titty sucking and fruit-induced diarrhea was not up my alley. Even now when I go back to read it it’s just… feels weird to me.

30. Lord of the Flies. I wanted to gouge my eyes out it was just so boring. The author made it a point to be as vivid as humanly possible in literature, describing every scenario with the greatest amount of detail. It really drew away from the overall plot to me, plus the plot really only existed because of Jack. Not a good book.

31. Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. This was gonna be mine. It takes 3/4 of the book before anything even happens. I don’t even think you see more than a glimpse of Hyde until the end, it’s just the main character worrying about Jekyll’s health and other people telling the main character about how bad Hyde is and I wonder what his relationship to Dr. Jekyll could possibly be!

Maybe if you went into it not knowing anything about the plot it’d be more interesting, as a mystery or something, but with Jekyll and Hyde being cultural touchstones, it’s not interesting at all.

32. The Old Man and the Sea. Maybe I was too young to understand the actual point of the book but as far as everything I’ve read so far…I really didn’t care for it. I might read it again at some point to see if I can distinguish anything different I might have missed.

33. I feel like a lot of people hate the great Gatsby because it was drilled into our heads in high school. Like we get it, every other word is a reference to the American dream, and the remaining are about materialism or some crap.

34. Wuthering Heights with Heathcliffe, that little girl ghost, and all the whining about the moors. Seemed like a muddled laudanum dream. Hard to read, follow, and stay awake enduring.

35. Madame Bovary. Pages and pages describing every item on a table or in a room in excruciating detail do not make a good novel, nor does a protagonist that no sane or even remotely well-adjusted person could possibly identify with or like, who is also too dull and stupid to even be an interesting villain or anti-hero.

Flaubert can take “the sublime” and blow it out his ass.

36. No matter how hard I’ve tried, I could never finish Brave New World.

I loved 1984, and I loved the world-building in Brave New World, but just…something about Huxley’s writing style makes it an absolute bastard to follow, and you can go through 50 pages of it without anything actually happening.

That, coupled with the way he spends three pages with entirely unrelated and fragmented ideas in a row rather than putting them into a cogent narrative just ruined it for me. I know I SHOULD have enjoyed it, but I really just couldn’t.

37. Tess of the D’Urbervilles. I know it’s how things probably would have been handled in the time, but I just wanted to shake her by the shoulders and tell her to have more gumption and not be so passive about her life.

38. Lolita, which I personally thought was boring, and couldn’t’ wait to finish it. That said despite the fact that I didn’t like it, I could still appreciate from reading it, that Nabakov is a very talented writer, so at some point I’m going to give some of his other books a go.

39. I’ve tried to read Catch-22 for years. I tried reading the book, watching the movie and I’ve tried the audiobook, and I have yet to get through any of them successfully. I just can’t. It’s just too obtuse for me, I guess.

40. Catcher In The Rye. It is the most pretentious, self important shite I’ve ever read. And I was once stuck on an island for 4 days with only Battlefield Earth to read.

41. As I Lay Dying. My wife loves it and I HATED it.

42. The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho.

Some fuckwad who believes in dreams and fairytales wanders in the desert to find himself. What was the point of that book or why people like it, I’ll never understand.

43. Walden. I swear Thoreau made up 75% of those words.

44. Wuthering Heights. Ugh.

45. I thought Atlas Shrugged was cartoonish. The characters were so over the top it bordered on parody. The Fountainhead was the better book in every respect.

46. The Alchemist. I always felt the applaud it received was exaggerated.

47. Romeo and Juliet was an absolute nightmare to get through on the account that we read the entire thing aloud in class and the teacher corrected every single little mispronunciation. Given we’d never read old timey English before, it took us about twice as long as it should have.

48. The Scarlet Letter. It was being forced to read terrible books in high school that turned me off to reading. I used to like to read but not anymore.

49. “Great Expectations” by Dickens pretty ironic that I had such high hopes….

50. No Ethan Frome?

I think I had to read this in 8th grade. I probably loved reading more than most, but this was the book I remember most as a chore. The whole thing was a boring slog to get through from the writing style to the melodramatic plot. I almost never participated in discussions in class, but I vividly remember going off on the teacher about how much I disliked reading it. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

About the author

January Nelson

January Nelson

January Nelson is a writer, editor, and dreamer. She writes about astrology, games, love, relationships, and entertainment. January graduated with an English and Literature degree from Columbia University.