I Love Books About Terrible People

girl reading her favorite books
Jacalyn Beales

While bumming through my favorite bookstore, I was asked by a friend if I liked Wuthering Heights, and I answered:

“Yeah, but everyone in that book is a total asshole. Don’t get me wrong, LOVE it, but ALL assholes.”

And then I realized the same description could apply to most of the books I’ve read and liked, and I wonder what that says about me as a person, but mostly I just remember Latarian Milton saying, “It’s fun to do bad things”, and think It’s more fun to read about other people doing bad things, so here’s a list of books to start with if you’re into that too –

Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë

Cathy is a bitch. Cathy insists that she IS Heathcliff, which means that Heathcliff is also a bitch. I mostly feel bad for Edgar Linton, but he is the definition of a wet blanket and should have run for the hills (or the moors?) when he first met these bitches. Instead these three morons reproduce, and the bitchiness is genetic. Even the ghost in this book is a real bitch and won’t let anyone sleep.

Sidenote: This book was the inspiration for Twilight, which was the inspiration for some terrible internet fan fiction that later became Fifty Shades of Grey, so you can rest assured that all the characters suck in some form or fashion.

The Outlander Series, Diana Gabaldon

Adultery doesn’t count if you’re time traveling. We get it. But seriously, she couldn’t open a goddamn book for 20 years to find out if her husband from the past was alive? Dumb. Just so dumb.

The Secret History, Donna Tartt

Five students kill their friend named Bunny, who was a real tool. This all happens on the first page, so I’m not spoiling anything for you, but the rest of the book explains why they did it. They are seriously the worst people ever, but they have really nice clothes, are smart, beautiful, and constantly ordering kamikazes. It’s basically 90’s Gossip Girl if they murdered Jenny (because she sucked the most).

The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt

Kid goes to a museum. Falls in love at first sight with a redheaded girl. Bomb goes off. Kid’s mom dies, and he steals a painting. You feel bad for him for a while (like a few hundred pages), but he just really has no major redeeming qualities. He can’t stop lying, is bad at choosing friends, does a lot of drugs and gets himself into an endless amount of shitty situations. Still an amazing Bildungsroman.

Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë

This book is basically a succession of horrible people shitting on Jane Eyre until the very end, which is happy. You’d think she would just go find some nice, normal people, because she is a nice, normal girl. But instead she goes from living with an evil aunt, to living at an evil school, to a really fucked up workplace romance, and then her cousin tries to force her to marry him, because it’s like, what God wants. So yeah, Jane Eyre gets the shit end of the stick.

Mr. Rochester, on the other hand, would make for a great replacement for the term “fuckboy.” Mind games? He dresses up as a fortune teller so he can get Jane to spill her guts to him. Side chicks? He’s got a wife in the attic. Jane even *magically* hears him call her name at in the middle of the night, which is just the 19th century equivalent of a 2 a.m. text message.

Gone With The Wind, Margaret Mitchell

Girl spends a thousand pages trying to steal this guy from his wife, even though the wife is like a REALLY good friend, and Scarlett can get any guy she wants. She also has a really attractive husband who loves her, but *shrugs shoulders*. Also, it’s the Civil War, so a lot of other really terrible things happen.

Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card

Kid gets bullied. Kid murders anyone who tries to fight him. Is really smart and ends up destroying an entire alien race. Thought he was just playing a video game. Oops.

Great Expectations, Charles Dickens

Woman gets stood up on her wedding day. Never takes off the dress. Emotionally tortures a boy and a girl as some sort of revenge. Only nice character is a blacksmith named Joe, who is just there to show how much of a prick the boy becomes after getting a ton of money.

Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov

I can only say I love the first page of this book. The rest is beautiful written prose about an absolute monster. It’s so bad. But the writing is so good. Have I mentioned the writing?

Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert

I only read this because it was Summer’s candy striping book on The O.C. Moral of the story? Don’t cheat, and maybe figure out what you want before you eat arsenic.

Doña Bárbara

They made a telenovela out of this book, which is how I learned enough Spanish to read a book in Spanish, so I hope you’re already imagining women with big hair and a lot of make-up, because if so, you nailed it. Mom and estranged daughter fight (physically) over the same dude. Mom is basically the mob boss of the Venezuelan plains and smokes a ton of cigars. There’s an American grease ball named “Míster Danger”, which used to be Hugo Chávez’s nickname for George W. Bush, so, yeah, he wasn’t very nice either. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Chicago-based writer.

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