Columns > Published on May 11th, 2012

The Top 10 Best Books... With The Worst Amazon Customer Reviews

Writers - feeling down about a harsh review? Shrug it off! Even the most critically acclaimed novels of all time aren't safe from a scathing Amazon customer review or two. If you've never taken the time to check out the one-star reviews of your favorite classic novels, I urge you to do so. When they aren't tragic, they're hilarious, and most often they're tragically hilarious. This website aggregated many "Best Books" lists into one master list, and it's from this list that I give you the worst Amazon customer reviews of the ten best reviewed novels of all time. Oh and just go ahead and assume [sic] wherever necessary.

1. Don Quixote  by Miguel de Cervantes

From Joe W:

"I guess I just don't get it. Yes, I understand the book has a much broader meaning than the literal adventures of a deranged "knight" (i.e. exposing social customs as learned, trivial, and sometimes fragile when challenged, all this accomplished through an 'out-of-period' character). What I don't get is the "humor" everyone keeps talking about. I didn't find this book to be in the least bit amusing. In fact, I found it to be incredibly lame and borderline offensively stupid. I don't care if the book is a witty social satire; there are plenty of other writers who accomplish the same goal by far less annoying and more clever means. Each adventure is tedious, repititious, and inane...and there's over 500 pages of it!"

From Ricco "logitech2":

"Yep. I read it. Boring? Yes. Boring beyond belief. It is also mundane, vapid and worthless. Read Hemingway or Faulkner. Read Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. Even the "comic section" of your local rag is better than this work of literaly trash."

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2. Ulysses  by James Joyce

From A Customer:

"I would have to say that I have easily read close to 1,000 books in my lifetime. I would also easily have to say that I have never read a book that was as incomprehensible as Ulysses. I really do not believe that one has to have cliffnotes or any type of 'helpers' to read and understand a book. Yet, I firmly believe that Ulysses should be accompanied by several texts explaining page by page what you just read. It was so disjointed and difficult to comprehend that I was beginning to question my sanity in even attempting to sift through it and find a plot. I would not recommend it to anyone and I feel sorry for English majors who are forced to read it. I chose to read it and would not make that choice a second time."

From A Customer:

"Yes, "Ulysses," we are told, is a work of genius; yes, it is multi-faceted and pregnant with meaning; true, it may even be a compendium of all Western Culture since Homer. But, let's be honest: It's as fun as reading a telephone directory!"

From A Customer:

"Perhaps the worst book I have ever read. It is a blasphemy that it ever was published. Its only function is to keep blinkered academics busy trying to wring another drop of meaning from a text already exhausted from analysis. A brief glance through it is enough to confirm that it is precisely the novel you would write if you wanted to become a celebrated author but hated writing, hated readers, and wanted to punish academics. This monstrosity of hideous prose confirms that Joyce had no style and certainly no class. The novel can rightly be blamed for being the originator of the misguided notion that the squalor-and-filth quotient of a story is directly proportional to its artistic merit."

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3. Lolita  by Vladimir Nabokov

From Stranger:

"Lolita, or the confessions of a murderer and panty sniffer" is the most famous novel of Vladimir Nabokov, one of the (inexplicably for me) sacred cows in twentieth century literature. A masterpiece of the English language for some, a manual of pedophilia for others, or just a plain overrated novel for the rest".

From N. Scott "deannies":

"I ended up throwing this book away after reading about 5 chapters..if you enjoy reading the pedophilic ramblings of a perv, go for it! Yuk! And I'm a very open minded person but this book is just gross."

From Sean Patrick Murphy:

"1.) I'm bored 2.) He uses too many allusions to other novels, so that if you're not well read, this book makes no sense. 3.) Most American readers are not fluent in French, so to have conversations or interjections in French with no translation, is plain dumb. 4.) Did I mention I was bored? 5.) As with another reviewer, I agree, he uses a lot of huge words that just slow a person down. And it's not for theatrics either, it's just huge words mid-sentence when describing something simple. Nothing in the sense of imagery is gained. 6.) Also, to sum it up, it's a story about a pedophile, whether you interpret it as something else or not, is up to you, but there's the main plot for you. I would not reccomend this book to any of my friends."

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4. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn  by Mark Twain

From A Customer:

"Whatever you do do not read this book. It's long, it's really hard to read, and the story just flat out sucks. A lot of people say that this book is packed with meaning, BUT IT'S NOT. Mark Twain wrote a stupid story about a boy and a slave floating down the mississsippi. THAT SOUNDS REALLY INTERESTING!! Yea right. This book is a big waste of time, it should be out-lawed from our schools, because Twain likes to use the "N" word a lot. This book in my opinion, should get the "Turkey of the Century" award. A big book B-B-Q, should be devoted to all the copies in print."

From A Customer:

"I dont really like this book because lets face it, it needs some more spice. Throughout the whole book it was just so plain and dull. Maybe this book appealled to other people hundreds of years ago, but not now!"

From A Customer:

"I like many others was told to read this book. I can say that this book bored be to death. This book can be writen in 50 pages NOT 200. Thats a waste of 150. At one point maybe it was a great book. But hell, now its a waste of time. And why read the book when the movie is out?"

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5. The Great Gatsby  by F. Scott Fitzgerald

From A Customer:

"I was forced to read this book for school. I hated every page of this book. It was boring and had no point. Even though it is apparently one of the greatest Am. novels from the twenties, it is bad. I dont like any of the characters. They should all be destroyed b/c they are all awful people who would rather party than actually face their lives. I dont think that teachers should force students to read it b/c just because it happens to be by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Big whoop."

From A Customer:

"The only things that happened in this book happened in the last fifty pages. It's boring, and the only reason I read it is because it was an English assignment. The plot was dreary and I did not like it!"

From A Customer:

"Excellent substitute for valium... The most artificially inflated phenomenon since the 1929 stock market, and likewise this book seems like a worthy instigator of a great depression."

[amazon B00136YCIG inline]


6. 1984  by George Orwell

From A Customer:

"While embarking on this "classic," don't expect to find yourself absorbed in a magnificant tale. 1984 is a redundant novel with unnecessary tangents and pages of contradicting philosophy. ...and must we really keep reading in full detail the horror and disgust of Winston's vericose veins?!"

From Shar T:

"I hated this book. I hated having reasonably high expectations for a so-called classic, only to have to suffer through a drab chain of non sequitur events, thoroughly lacking any explanations at all."

From A Customer:

"At first I did like the book. Then it just started to suck right around the time when Winston was getting sexually involved with his girl friend. I hated the book so much that I forgot her name. The first hundred or so pages i liked, then it just got really boring. So II highly reccomend that you DO NOT READ THIS BOOK. And please for the love of God don't read that "Brave New World" book by Hoxley. It is twice as worse as 1984. To put it bluntly, DON'T READ ANY GEORGE ORWELL. Your just waisting your time."

[amazon 0452284236 inline]


7. War and Peace  by Leo Tolstoy

From Reader Hal:

"I read the entire thing in about a week or ten days; truly a marathon. I was left highly disappointed and utterly disgusted with the entire experience. As far as I am concerned it is an extremely over-rated behemoth with few redeeming qualities. Having read many of the sickly gushing reviews here, I can only surmise that either I had a horrible translation or that these folks are so teed off at having wasted their time that they want you to do the same."

From alex:

"I read this book from cover to cover and absolutely hated it. It is dry and bland. I do not recommend it to anyone."

From A Customer:

"This type of literature is not going to hold an audience anymore. So many people have the opportunity to live interesting lives nowadays why would they stop to read a novel of this length about a bunch of fictional charaters when they could be spending the time actually LIVING their own lives? It was a real drag."

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8. In Search of Lost Time  by Marcel Proust

From A Customer:

"How can any work be so dreary and unpoetic and at once so imprecise and unanalytical? The answer: Read Proust!"

From Mark Desgranges:


[amazon 1857152506 inline]


9. Anna Karenina  by Leo Tolstoy

From A Customer:

"How can anybody like this book? Whoever said this is the best classic ever written must be truly brain-dead. What could be enjoyable about a book that primarily consists of a guide on:
a) how to cut grass,
b) how to hunt bear, and
c) how to abandon your own kid for a gigolo.
If I wanted all that stuff I would have read Farmers Almanac."

From Derek Goto:

"Partially due to the century-gap, I found it impossible to relate to any of the characters. However, it runs much deeper than that. I actually found it impossible to like or even dislike any character in this story. Everyone is quite boring, 1-dimensional, and stale. The result: an 800 page "masterpiece" about characters that are impossible to care about.

So, if you see Anna for $5 at your neighbor's garage sale, go ahead and buy it. Hollow it out, and stash a handgun in there. Leave it next to your toilet if you have unwanted guests. Beat your disobedient child with it. Put it in your fireplace and have a nice glass of vodka. Just don't read it! You have been warned."

From Tovia Main Vasquez "paintlady":

"the most boring book i have ever laid eyes the other 1 star reviews, there is no need for me to repeat everything that others have said...i do not know HOW this book became a "classic" belongs in the circular file...not on the bookshelf!"

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10. Madame Bovary  by Gustave Flaubert

From photondancer:

"Dear lord this book was awful. One of the very few novels that I have been unable to finish, or indeed even get to half-way. It was just TOO BORING! Before throwing it in the charity bin I skimmed through the rest to see if something, anything, happened that I would be interested in. Nope."

From DeathSpiral "lex parsimoniae":

"I had to read this awful piece of classic lit in college:
* You keep reading it hoping/waiting for it to get good. It never does.
* I had similar feelings when I read Great Expectations. Never turns the corner."

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Does this help, beleaguered writers of brilliant, misunderstood works? I hope it does. Now go look up some one-star reviews of your favorite books and paste them in the comments. Go on, take my word for it. It's fun! When it's not maddening.

Photo via Carve Out Your Niche

About the author

Meredith is a writer, editor and brewpub owner living in Houston, Texas. Her four most commonly used words are, "The book was better."

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