July 16, 2020
Worst Books Ever: 10 Titles That Everyone Agrees They Suck

A Tale of Two Cities, The Book Thief, Fahrenheit 451, 1984, Dune, The Grapes of Wrath. I won’t be talking about these books, or any of this caliber, in this article. I’ll actually be talking about their antithesis: the worst books ever. I’ve based this list on public and critical opinion, so let’s get this walk through the literary hell underway.

10 Worst Books Ever Written

1. The Twilight Saga (Stephanie Meyer)

Along with the second entry on this list, these could be considered the worst book series ever. This story chronicles the teenage years of Bella as she falls in love with a 104-year-old vampire, Edward, and stumbles into a world she never knew existed.

Are you team Edward or Team Jacob? Remember when that question was the most important one in existence, dividing communities and families all over the world? Well, the book divided critics and the public as well, with teenage girls (the target demographic) not wanting to put it down, and everyone else not wanting to pick it up.

Even after a somewhat successful movie franchise, Meyer’s saga is not a popular one. Do you want an alternative to quench your thirst for (smart) horror? Check out our top best horror anime shows to binge on and have some actual fun!

“The real difference [between Rowling and Meyer] is that Jo Rowling is a terrific writer, and Stephenie Meyer can’t write worth a darn. She’s not very good.”

Stephen King

2. 50 Shades of Grey Series (E.L. James)

I couldn’t think of a worse book to read than this almost pornographic smut.

Starting as a Twilight fan-fiction (do I need to go on?!) entitled Master of the Universe, this erotic-thriller trilogy follows a deepening relationship between Anastasia and Christian (the eponymous Mr. Grey), as he introduces her to the world of BDSM.

The book exploded with success (dare I say because of frustrated housewives?!), which surprised even James. It topped best sellers list across the globe and spawned a semi-successful movies series.

However, the literary world slated it, along with members of the BDSM community, who disliked the depiction of BDSM and dominatrixes.

I have female friends who read a free chapter online and said that their inner goddesses felt appalled by the writing style, the phrasing, and the overall cheesiness of the thing. If there ever was some plot to those books, a story, or at least some erotica vibe, they were lost in a see of poorly chosen words.

“I’ve never read anything so badly written that got published. It made Twilight look like War and Peace.”

Salman Rushdie

3. Mein Kampf (Adolf Hitler)

A change of direction with this one, and in my opinion, the worst book ever. Reading the title alone will already fill you with many different emotions, mainly hatred and sadness.

Mein Kampf, or My Struggle, was written by the evil dictator while in prison in 1923. It details, explains, and excuses his anti-Semitic views and political ideologies. In 1933, during his rise to power, the sales of the manifesto have reached 1.2 million Reichmarks, which is about 5.5 million USD in today’s money.

Despite the disgusting and evil propaganda peddled in this book, it became the most popular book in Germany during Hitler’s time as Chancellor. I would never read it, and would personally urge others to do the same.

In Europe, the book has been banned for obvious reasons, and even if some countries are now publishing it with academic comprehensive introductions and annotations by historians, it is still one of the worst books ever to plague the face of the Earth. It’s not about its style – it does not matter in this case – but about the message.

4. The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown)

The premise for this sounds intriguing: a secret is uncovered that will change the face of Christianity forever. Unfortunately, transferring that onto paper was something that Brown was unable to do with any style or creativity. The book lacks anything other than an interesting story. The chapters are too short, and the writing style is somewhat lackluster and amateurish.

Nonetheless, the book benefited from a massive PR campaign and pretty smart marketing strategies for its time. While it is not the best thriller book ever written – I have seen anime movies that would bury this novel six feet under in terms of plot, characters, atmosphere, and dialogue – it is a light weekend read on a beach if you don’t want to stress your brain with some heavy literature.

Despite becoming a huge commercial success (only being outsold by JK Rowling’s Order of the Phoenix in 2003), spawning a popular film starring Tom Hanks and Sir Ian McKellen, the book itself is littered with historical and religious inaccuracies, just to fit the narrative.

Stephen Fry confirmed why this is considered one of the worst books ever published when he said that the novel was “arse gravy of the worst kind.”

5. The Eye Of Argon (Jim Theis)

This 1970 novella chronicles the heroic adventures of Grignr the barbarian. The author wrote and released this when he was just 16, and since then, it has circulated in the sci-fi/fantasy literary world.

However, do not mistake this for the works of Robert E. Howard, who single-handedly established the sword & sorcery sub-genre with his legendary Conan the Barbarian hero. Do not mistake it with any of the newer YA fantasy books or the older heavy-metal SF novels that still rock this world either. No.

The author found it hard having his work mocked his entire adult life, stating he would never write anything ever again. This is often dubbed the worst book ever due to, as David Langord described:

“[a bad purveyor of] prose with an eerie gift for choosing the wrong word and then misapplying it.”

David Langord

It has always been considered one of the worst books ever written.

6. The Lair of the White Worm (Bram Stoker)

I bet you didn’t expect to see the name Bram Stoker on this list, did you? The man wrote the 19th-century gothic horror masterpiece Dracula, almost single-handedly creating the vampire genre. If you are in the mood for some bloody, scheming, sometimes gruesome Dracula-related action, put Castlevania on your list of shows to binge watch this year. Watch it just so you can comment how the producers interfered with established concepts, like vampires, the Gothic literary genre, Transylvania, or Lady Carmilla.

Just don’t read this. Why?

Unfortunately for all of us, in 1911, Stoker churned out this turkey, with what one reviewer called “a clumsy style of writing.” As far as books with bad reviews go, this one has them in abundance.

The plot is a simple Gothic horror story. A tale of ancient evil; an insane hypnotist, hellbent on mentally crushing the girl he loves; a gigantic kite raised to rid the land of an unnatural infestation of birds, and which receives strange commands along its string. And, all the while, the great white worm slithers below, seeking its next victim.

H.P. Lovecraft summed it up by stating that the central idea was a good one but poorly executed.

7. Moon People (Dale M. Courtney)

Join David Braymer on his journey from high school teacher to 1st science officer aboard Lunar Base Module 1, through wildly fantastical space battles, to his encounters with alien lifeforms.

There are so many problems with this ‘novel.’ The poorly constructed story, hollow characters, but worst of all, terrible grammar. Here are a few examples:

  • “fill” instead of feel
  • “know” instead of now
  • “taking” instead of taken
  • “abservatory”
  • “he don’t really need me”
  • “you to boss”
  • “in stead”
  • “when she seen Dave come in”
  • “bomb barding”
  • “were first going to Mars”
  • “they kissed intimently”

Read at your own risk. It seems the writer never had an editor or a publishing house. Or, if he did, they never read the manuscript and released in the world without a simple spell check. Which says a lot, in fact, about editors these days…

Although this book is considered one of the worst books ever of all times, it has managed to achieve a rating of 4 stars on Amazon.com. If you read them, however, you will learn that they are mostly sarcastic, so I am not sure how to take this rating.

8. Irene Iddesleigh (Amanda McKittrick Ros)

Often considered the best worst writer in the history of literature, Amanda McKittrick Ros delivers her magnum opus here, in what many consider to be the worst book ever.

Journey with Irene through many dramatic situations: love interests, questionable decisions, imprisonment, escape, fortunes won and lost, and many tragic deaths.

This book is so bad that it has attained a cult status. The Inklings would often challenge each other to see how far they could get through it before each of them succumbed to absolute hysterics. This book was published by the author’s husband as an anniversary present.

“One of the greatest unintentionally humorous novels of all time.”

Mark Twain

9. Does God Love Michael’s Two Daddies (Sheila K. Butt)

Do I really need to explain why this has a lowly 2.5-star rating on Amazon.com? The title sums up everything the book is about, but just in case you are still not getting it, I’ll lay it out for you.

In this book, we learn that God loves everyone, but less those who disobey him. We learn, through ‘love,’ that homosexuality is a sin, and we should follow the teachings in the Bible. I don’t say that people should not follow the good teachings of the Bible – and less the awkward ones like owning slaves, not wearing mixed fibers or gold, or stoning adulterers – but I say you should find an alternative read, however you position yourself towards homosexuality in general.

The book is poorly written, avoids discussing some of the essential pillars of Christianity (compassion, among others, as some critics noticed) and it managed to annoy even the people who follow the dogma.

10. The Shadow God (Aaron Rayburn)

Wow! That’s what sums up the experience of reading this novel. Garnering a mere two stars on Amazon.com, reviewers have not been kind to this story of dragons, magic, and friendship. Although, when you put it like this, you can speak of anything from the Hobbit, the Harry Potter series, A Song of Ice and Fire (and Game of Thrones, evidently) to any fantasy short story or novel of more or less fame and following.

It is not the case to compare this book with anything you have read or seen before, however. The plot is a basic one, revolving around revenge and sacrifice. Hold on though…before you add it to your basket, let me just give you the opening line:

“Matt and Susan Johnson were having a baby, who would be their first-born.” It’s no “All this happened, more or less.” And this is just the opening line. The book is riddled with grammatical errors and instances where Rayburn has used a word when he meant to use another.

Truly one of the worst books ever written. His inexperience and total lack of writing knowledge is proof that anyone can get anything published.

Which Do You Think Are the Worst Books Ever?

Now, that’s a challenge! Which books did you absolutely despised and found that others hated just as much as you did?

For now, that’s all I am putting you through. I’m sure there are hundreds more that are considered the worst books ever, but time, unlike a good book, is finite. Some of these have been an incredible commercial success and have made the author a wealthy person. However, all of these have received negative critical reviews.

So, I suppose the question is what would matter to you more: how your fellow peers and the literary world accepted your tome, or how much money you generated?

On the other hand, as I said above, I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences with the worst books ever. Did you read any on this list? Do you have other examples of worst books ever written that you had the misfortune to go through? Let me know in the comments below, and as always, thanks for reading!

Phil Knopp

Contributor

From Skywalkers to superheroes; from a Gunslinger to Gollum; From a time travelling police box to a time travelling delorean, my obsession with everything fantastical and geeky began when I was around 6, aboard the USS Enterprise, with Captain Jean-Luc Picard at the helm.

Now, being 6 seems like a lifetime ago, and a lot has changed in my life but my love for all things geeky remains a constant.

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