Well, That's Not What I Was Expecting (A Top Ten Tuesday Adventure.)

April 23, 2013 Classics, Coming of Age, Historical Fiction, Humor, Time Travel, Top Ten Tuesday 71

Tis Tuesday, my dear Bookworms!

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is brought to you, as usual by The Broke and The Bookish. They’ve asked the book bloggers of the internet to list out the books we’ve read that really weren’t what we were expecting. Something you thought you’d love but didn’t? Something you thought would be terrible that you adored? Let’s get to listing!

Katie Is Disappointed

This is my McKayla Maroney face. Sort of.

This is my McKayla Maroney face. Sort of.

1. A Visit From The Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan. I feel like an uncultured blob of loser admitting this, but I really did not like this book. I can always tell how much I like a book by how well I remember it. The only thing I really remember from this one? One of the teenager’s mothers made homemade yogurt. That was weird. Otherwise? Something about gold leaf instead of Viagara? Yeah. I expected rock-n-roll coming of age stories. I got angry middle aged people lamenting their lost youths. Just… No.

2. On Gold Mountain by Lisa See. I’m bad at non-fiction, and I didn’t realize just how much of a plod this was going to be when I picked it up. I had visions of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and Shanghai Girls and Peony in Love and I got… Well. None of those things.There were an awful lot of less than thrilling business ventures were described in great detail. Bummer.

3. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green. After reading The Fault In Our Stars, I was quite certain I would love everything John Green had ever written. Too bad I spent the majority of this book wanting to smack Colin around…

4. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I know there are zillions of people who found deep meaning in this book. I happen to not be one of them. I would have stayed at home with my flock of sheep, and would never advise anyone to go in search of their personal legend if it meant giving up all their security. That’s just plain foolish, y’all.

5. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut. I was sure that this book was destined to by my new favorite novel- all the cool kids dig Vonnegut! Sadly, it just was not my thing. Sorry Vonnegut fans, I am not one of you.

Katie Is Pleased


This is my “YAY!” face.

1. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. I KNOW. The amount I rave about these books is ridiculous, but honestly? I almost didn’t read them. My Aunt Margie got my mom hooked on them. I remember calling my mom from college and she’d be all, “Oooh these BOOKS! She’s being tried for witchcraft! But she went back in time. Jamie will save her. He must!” And I was like, “That sounds ridiculous!” Eventually I gave into peer pressure, and the rest is delightful history. But. Now you know the truth.

2. The Fault In Our Stars by John Green. I first heard about this book on the YA blog circuit. I’d never heard of John Green before (for shame, I know) but I was completely expecting this book to be a Lurlene McDaniel knockoff (Lurlene McDaniel wrote a series of books on critically ill teenagers that were all the melodramatic rage when I was in 5th grade.) I thought I’d get snarky blog fodder from it. Have I mentioned that I’m not a good person? Anyway, I loved this book so much I read it in a single sitting.

3. Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell. I read this initially because I felt like it was something I should read. I was thinking that it would be a slow-going classic that would put me to sleep. I WAS WRONG! So very wrong. And so very HAPPY to have been so wrong!

4. Still Alice by Lisa Genova. I can’t even tell you how long this sat on my shelf. My mom gave it to me, but I saw the word “alzheimer’s” and thought “old people book.” Isn’t that terrible? I’m ashamed of myself. My mom usually has decent taste in books, I should trust her opinions, ESPECIALLY after the Outlander incident. Sigh. Teenage habits die hard I guess.

5. Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen. I read this as a senior in high school. It was assigned reading, so I naturally expected the worst. I was utterly tickled to find myself engrossed in the soapy scandals of the sisters Bennett! It was exciting and intriguing and full of questioning what glances and offhand comments meant. It was like Jane Austen KNEW how I analyzed boys! (Which is rather unfortunate, seeing as I was analyzing boys quite a long time after Ms. Austen was… This probably explains my lack of dates.)

What books surprised YOU, Bookworms? The good, the bad, the ugly. Spill it!

71 Responses to “Well, That's Not What I Was Expecting (A Top Ten Tuesday Adventure.)”

  1. Jolyse Barnett

    I didn’t expect to like Hemingway’s writing, based on his macho persona. I was so wrong. I love most of his work, and especially his short stories.

    • Words for Worms

      I’ve never been much for Hemingway, but I’m glad his style appeals to you. Brilliant yet broken people are what makes the world go round, no?

  2. jennpower

    Good: My Side of the Mountain- Jean Craighead. I saw this at my grandparents cottage and was desperate to read something-ANYTHING. I’d already read all the books I’d brought, so I read that. It was really, really good. I now have the whole trilogy.

    Bad: Sense and Sensibility- Jane Austen-Only thing that kept me from burning this book was the reminder in my head over and over that she wrote for her time- she didn’t know it would be shallow 200 years later. Also I had to read it for grade 12 for an Independent Study Unit.

    Ugly: Anne of Green Gables- L.M Montgomery- This book is a staple in the maritime provinces where my parents are from- so I’ve grown up reading the book. Unfortunately, I’ve started to read more carefully, and it completely ruined the book for me. I still love it, but now it’s ruined.

  3. Liesel Hill

    Ooh Pride and Prejudice is a good one. My experience was similar: read it in high school. It was the first Jane Austin I’d ever picked up and loved it to pieces! 😀 Great list!
    My TTT.

  4. therelentlessreader

    The Good Squad. I read it and kinda liked it but I remember thinking that I didn’t understand what all the fuss was about. Still Alice made me sob and sob. Omg, that book.

  5. Rick Wiedeman

    Immensely popular and…

    Good: Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. I was afraid it would be too pervy, but I laughed out loud throughout it. The Painted Bird by Jerzy Kosinski. Dark, interesting.

    Bad: Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. One of the worst novels I’ve ever read — revenge porn for the self-important. Lord of the Rings. The trilogy gets progressively less interesting with each book; The Hobbit was better.

    • Words for Worms

      I don’t think I’ll ever read any more Ayn Rand after The Fountainhead. She could write, but her characters are all douchebags and her messages are rather repellent to me…

      • the diarist

        Oh I soo agree with you both. I cannot stand this books. (I remember people in the early 80s being in love with them and those people would tell me, in a supercilious and superior tone, that I simply must read them for they were genius.) Completely repellent. All of it.

  6. lostinliterature108

    I’m so happy you said that about Slaughterhouse Five!!!! I thought I was alone. That book left me feeling sooo flat! I loved the beginning but once the actual story got started with the general, underlying attitude of it all, I wound up disappointed….in the story. I thought the writing style was excellent but the content wasn’t what I hoped it would be.

    I have several positive surprises I could mention. When you are following a specific reading challenge list instead of reading books of your own choosing you get all kinds of good and bad surprises. Two very good surprises were The Chosen by Chaim Potok and Survivors of the Chancellor by Jules Verne. I had never heard of either of these, and they aren’t what I would just pick up for myself, but I just LOVED them. Loved them.

    Great post girlie!

      • lostinliterature108

        I’m so glad I didn’t start reading the list til the show was over. I’m such a slow reader that I would have been miserable trying to keep up and look for clues that I know NOW are not there, just similarities and coincidences. Although I WILL say that in Watership Down there are all kinds of rabbits with the personalities of lots of LOST characters. For real. It’s fun finding that kind of stuff.

  7. Rory

    I hesitate to even say it, but I am not a huge John Green fan. That’s not to say I think he is bad, it’s just I find him to be a tad overrated. I’ve only read three of his books (the two listed above) and Looking For Alaska, I just didn’t get into them, although I sobbed like a baby during The Fault in Our Stars. You’re the second person I’ve seen rave about Still Alice, I might have to check it out!

  8. vegan farm girl in the city

    Love your list and the pics are priceless!

    The Good: All the Nero Wolfe books by Rex Stout. My dad used to write pulp fiction for Alfred Hitchcock magazine when I was a kid and I always thought it was a little schlocky so when I found a full set of Nero Wolfe books in a used book store and my fiance got all excited about reading them, I thought, “oh not not more of that.” But I LOVE them. They’re funny and stupid and over the top but in a good way. So glad I bought them.

    The Bad: I really wanted to like Practical Magic because I loved the movie so much, but this book was not anything like the film nor was it as good. It was dark and sinister and way too maudlin.

    The Downright Vomit Inducing: American Psycho was so vile, I can’t even begin to imagine why it was published. I didn’t make it past the first chapter.

  9. Charleen

    Totally with you on both GWTW and Slaughterhouse Five. My GWTW experience (I think I’ve already mentioned this) was pretty much the same as yours — thought I should give it a chance, but was kind of expecting to be bored and give up on it. So happy that was not the case. And Slaughterhouse Five… I think I only got about 20 pages in before saying, “This is ridiculous” and throwing it across the room (or, returning it to the library… one of the two).

    One pleasant surprise for me was Richard Harvell’s The Bells. It was a subject I should like, but I was afraid it might be boring. I LOVED it. A disappointing surprise was Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy. I wanted to love it, but… nope.

  10. Megan M.

    Hunh. I had the complete opposite reaction with Practical Magic. I liked the movie, discovered it was a book, read it, and completely fell in love with the book (and Alice Hoffman.) The movie is cute for what it is but I now feel it is a terrible representation of what the book was about. Ah, well.

    Anne of Green Gables. My best friend raves and raves about it. I read The Blue Castle first and it was so lovely. I thought for sure I’d love Anne. Then I discovered that Anne NEVER. SHUTS. UP. My introverted sensibilities just couldn’t handle her and I abandoned it about 20 pages in.

    Sister by Rosamund Lipton – I started reading it and just couldn’t get into it. For some reason it was not how I expected it to be, so I put it down. Tried it again about a month later and couldn’t put it down. It was SO GOOD. Totally made me cry. I must have just been in a bad mood the first time! LOL

  11. the diarist

    Surprised that I liked it: Stranger In a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein. He has some trouble with women and writing them, and it’s science fiction but I like it. (My brother gave it to me in my teens)

    It started me reading science fiction which led to me reading fantasy fiction and I love that genre.

    All because of Stranger in a Strange Land. So I’m glad I tried it, even though I only read it to shut my brother up.

  12. Leigh Kendall

    Never again will I be sucked in by reviews…a fair few books have been given up on and donated to the charity shop, half read. Life is too short for disappointing, or just plain bad, books.

    • Words for Worms

      I like to pretend I don’t listen to reviews, but shoot, I write them. I tend to take the advice of other bloggers over professional critics, because the pros tend to be a bit too high brow for my liking.

  13. tinykitchenstories

    Completely agree with your review of The Alchemist. I was like….”Um, that’s it? That’s what everyone’s been swooning about? Oh dear.” And Ayn Rand Atlas Shrugged….seriously, I skipped 30 pages of John Galt’s dumb, repetitive speech. Sheesh.
    LOVE: Dennis Lehane books, but wasn’t in love with The Given Day. Loved GWTW. And you know my Fellowship of the Ring/curtains story…

      • tinykitchenstories

        I haven’t even told you the best part about why I needed the curtains! I lived in central London at the Barbican, surrounded by office buildings. It didn’t even look like the building was occupied. So I didn’t realize for about a month that three office workers were gathering to watch me get out of bed each morning. Let’s just say pyjamas were optional for me at the time. The morning I discovered my audience, I waved to make sure it really was me they were looking at. Boy, they disappeared fast!

        I went and bought material that day, and started wearing pyjamas… 😉

  14. Mikels Skele

    The best: the Sotweed Factor, by John Barth. You can safely ignore the rest of Barth.
    The good: Setting Free the Bears, by John Irving. Put the rest of Irving with the rest of Barth.
    The awful: I don’t have the guts to tell you.

  15. Sarah Says Read

    Your sad/happy faces are adorable.

    DUDE YES!! Goon Squad sucked so much. I just… ugh. My review of that was at least amusing to right, because I went on quite the rant about it. And I’m mean, so rant-y reviews are fun!

    And yaayyyyy Outlander love!!! That one is so obvious I didn’t even think of it. Customers at Waldenbooks (when I worked there) recommended it to me ALL THE TIME, and I was like “Hahaha… yeah… someday… probably not…” and then I started dating the honeyman and HE read it in college and said I would like it. I’m glad I finally trusted his judgement. And then he bought me each book as I read them! It was awesome.

    • Words for Worms

      I read Goon Squad pre-blogging, but I just do NOT get the hype! And I’m glad Honeyman has good taste in books! How excited are you for the new release in December? Is Diana Gabaldon too famous for blog tours? If not, we should like force our way into one because we are THE BIGGEST OF THE FANS!

      • Sarah Says Read

        I’m pretty sure she’s too famous. Either that or there are only e-book versions available for blog tours, of which I do not partake. But if you get one you have to read it and tell me if it’s good or not!!! The end of Echo made me a bit stabby, so I have VERY high expectations. Squeeee I can’t wait!!!

  16. The Underground Writer

    Great post!

    I expected to love “The Kitchen House” (since everyone else seemed to) and I HATED it. I was a roller coaster ride of horror: incest, adultery, abuse, dead children – all in, like, 2 paragraphs. Just as I was recovering from one horrific scene, i turned the page and another started.

  17. Shannon

    Though I haven’t read An Abundance of Katherines, I felt the same way about Looking for Alaska after reading The Fault in Our Stars…it just wasn’t quite what I was hoping for. I did really enjoy Will Grayson, Will Grayson, though, so John Green isn’t totally lost for me.

  18. Christi

    I felt the same way about Gone with the Wind and Pride and Prejudice — I didn’t expect to like them, but I loved them!

    I must be one of the only people in the YA blogosphere who hasn’t read The Fault in Our Stars. I’ve been trying to keep the spoilers away in the meantime, but it’s been challenging. I’ll definitely get to this one at some point.

  19. Rhian

    The Great: The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke by C J Denis. I read this for a bookclub. It’s a novel written in verse so when I first opened I was *thrilled* (not). But I adored it. It’s Australian and written in the vernacular of the time (1915) and it was occasionally difficult for me to understand, so I’m not sure how well it would read for non-Aussies.

    The Good: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Another bookclub book, I groaned when I opened it and it took me a little bit to get into it, but once I did, I really enjoyed it. Afterwards I watched the BBC series on video which was an amazing interpretation, and I finally understood the appeal of Colin Firth (sigh).

    The Bad: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. After my happy experience with P&P I thought I’d give this a go as the pair of them are often mentioned together as great love stories. Bleh, I didn’t like it at all. I thought all the characters were awful and I didn’t find it in any way romantic.

    The Ugly: Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding. My mum recommended the sequel so I had to read them both. Ugh! It reminded me of Adrian Mole’s Diary (by Elizabeth Townsend) but the naivety that was funny and charming in a 14 year old boy, totally disgusted me in a 30-something woman. I think because I was around that age when I read it, I was especially horrified that she could be so self-centered and ignorant.

    Based on some of your posts, The Fault in Our Stars is on my bookshelf waiting to be read. So I shall be holding you personally responsible if I don’t like it 😉

    • Words for Worms

      Wuthering Heights and I have issues. Not even a tiny bit romantic. I do, however, love Bridget, but that may be because I first read the books as a teenager, and that’s kind of where Bridget’s mentality was…

  20. CorrieP

    The AMAZING Bitter is the New Black by Jen Lancaster. My sister got me this for Christmas and it sat on my shelf for over a year before I picked it up. She is now my FAVORITE author (excpet JK Rowling). The Bad: Into the Wood by Tana French…finished but struggled to get through it. The UGLY!! for me is definitely The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. 150 pages of Swedish politics..no thanks.

  21. Molly @ wrapped up in books

    Outlander definitely surprised me, too. I read them on suggestion of several people who all had such widely different taste, I had to read just to see what kind of book could thrill such a diverse group of readers. The premise was just so ridiculous, but I was totally sucked into the story.

  22. curiousseaturtle

    Oh my gosh, The Alchemist…everyone just swore it would be the best thing I would ever read. LIFE CHANGING!! Uh…no. I thought the writing was just awful and couldn’t get past the first chapter. Perhaps this makes me an unenlightened cretin but I’m okay with that. 😉

  23. Punky Coletta

    Oh my gosh, I laughed so very hard when I read, ‘After reading The Fault In Our Stars, I was quite certain I would love everything John Green had ever written.’ Because I just finished ‘The Fault in Our Stars,’ had the exact same thought, and just borrowed a copy of ‘The Abundance of Katherines.’ 🙂

Talk to me, Bookworms!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.