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."

Buy Don Quixote from Amazon.com

 

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."

Buy Modern Classics Ulysses Annotated Student's Edition (Penguin Modern Classics) from Amazon.com

 

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."

 

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?"

Buy Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Mark Twain Library) from Amazon.com

 

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."

Buy The Great Gatsby (A Cornell Edition) from Amazon.com

 

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."

Buy 1984 from Amazon.com

 

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."

Buy War and Peace (Oxford World's Classics) from Amazon.com

 

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:

"THIS IS THE MOST BORING BOOK I HAVE EVER READ. I KEPT ON THINKING THE NEXT LINE WOULD BE "AND THEN WE BRING THE COWS IN" STRAIGHT OUT OF THE ARCHERS. BACK AT YOU WHITIE. IF YOU WRITE A 3,000 PASERIES OF BOOKS YOU HAVE TO EXPECT SOME DISSIN' HOMIE BOY PROUST. BOYAKASHAKA-LAK. TWO PHAT POSSES ARE INHE HOUSE/DISSIN EACH OTHER SHOOTING OFF THEIR MOUTHS."

Buy In Search of Lost Time from Amazon.com

 

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 on...read 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"...it belongs in the circular file...not on the bookshelf!"

Buy Anna Karenina from Amazon.com

 

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."

Buy Madame Bovary from Amazon.com


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

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Comments

Jack Campbell Jr.'s picture
Jack Campbell Jr. from Lawrence, KS is reading American Rust by Phillipp Meyer May 11, 2012 - 10:19am

My favorite part of this column is that negative reviews are followed by "buy this book at Amazon.com."

I always find bad reviews on amazing books to be pretty funny.

Joshua Chaplinsky's picture
Joshua Chaplinsky from New York is reading A lot of Brian Evenson May 11, 2012 - 10:27am

Mark Desgranges' review of Proust might be the greatest thing I've ever read.

zyxxyz's picture
zyxxyz May 11, 2012 - 10:31am

I really can't disagree with any negative reviews for Proust and his cures for happiness.

jennydecki's picture
jennydecki from Chicagoland is reading The Foreigners May 11, 2012 - 10:33am

I expect jarring reviews of The Great Gatsby, because even well-read people tend to bitch about it....but 1984? Really? I hated it, yes, but I was supposed to. The book made me hate the book because it was so well written it hurt.

Here's the one I was just...amazed by. (Not in a good way)

Their Eyes Were Watching God

"After reading this book, I felt as if my intellectual freedom had been ground under by the iron boot of PC liberal thuggery. It's a sad, sad day for literature when a book like this can actually be required reading in schools. It lacked form, character development, and grammatical elegance. Most of all, it attempted to beat the reader to death with the "plight" of the author."

 

Nathalie Boisard-Beudin_2's picture
Nathalie Boisar... May 11, 2012 - 10:34am

Richard Powers "Time of our Singing"

1 star review by Rinconete (amazon.UK)

I agree with one of the reviewers in describing this book as pretentious and boring. I started reading it yesterday and however much I've tried to like it, it's beyond me. As with much of modern contemporary literature, the author confuses quality with boredom and cryptic language.

 

Meredith's picture
Meredith from Houston, Texas is reading Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith May 11, 2012 - 10:40am

My favorite of the above is the Anna Karenina one. "If I wanted all that stuff I would have read Farmers Almanac."

eirikodin's picture
eirikodin from Auburn, NY is reading Mediterranean Caper by Clive Cussler May 11, 2012 - 10:48am

I liked 1984 and Huckleberry Finn.  I didn't hate the Great Gatsby but I didn't love it either seeing as how I was forced to read it in high school.  As for the ones I didn't read I prolly never will.  For the ones I was forced to read or intentionally sullied myself with I would say don't even bother using the pages to wipe up spilt milk or wiping of anything, especially ones self.

Kimber's picture
Kimber from Atlanta May 11, 2012 - 11:23am

This is an awesome column. And you're right: this is fun. One-star reviews for "Lord of the Flies"...

"...If you want the point of the book watch the Simpsons parody. It's funnier and it makes fun of Bill Gates."

Also...
"...First of all, what's the point of the story? Mr. Golding is a very talented writer, but I don't think this was the best he could do."

And...
"If this book was a horse, I would shoot it!"

Meredith's picture
Meredith from Houston, Texas is reading Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith May 11, 2012 - 12:07pm

Oh man, "I would shoot it" is HARSH!

Pretty Spry for a Dead Guy's picture
Pretty Spry for... from I'd prefer it if you didn't know. So would you, only you don't know it. is reading whatever he makes time for this week May 11, 2012 - 12:13pm

The Gatsby reviews made me gag.

Jack Campbell Jr.'s picture
Jack Campbell Jr. from Lawrence, KS is reading American Rust by Phillipp Meyer May 11, 2012 - 12:26pm

From Dracula, a one star review:

"Me being the avid vampire fan that I am, I'm always willing to read new vampire fiction. The librarian suggested this one to me so I thought I'd give it a shot.

What a terrible read. I couldn't stand it for long, so I started skimming through the thing. Turns out the vampire in this book is an old guy, and he lives in a castle! What?! Any vampire fan knows that vampires roam the streets of upper middle class suburbia and high schools. Whoever this Bram Stoker guy is, it's quite clear that he doesn't know a thing on vampires, and his attempt to cash in on the vampire craze is indeed a failure."

I love this guy.

Joshua Chaplinsky's picture
Joshua Chaplinsky from New York is reading A lot of Brian Evenson May 11, 2012 - 12:31pm

Haha re: Dracula.

Some of these have to be trolls. Too funny.

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated May 12, 2012 - 1:34am

@Josh - The comfort is that some of these are trolls. The horror is that at least some of them aren't.

@Meredith Borders - You ma'am are an evil genius. Hats off.

underpurplemoon's picture
underpurplemoon from PDX May 12, 2012 - 1:38am

One-star reviews...grrr!!! A part of life, right? I think I wouldn't mind one-star reviews if they're helpful. Some are just plain harsh and mean. Necessary? Probably.

Banz's picture
Banz from Brisbane is reading Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman May 12, 2012 - 5:48pm

This may expose me as a philistine but I agree with the Ulysses reviews.  I got about 100 pages in (200 if you include the notes at the back) before giving it up as nonsense.

My copy still sits on the bookcase but I have hollowed it out to make a secret container.

Steve Dowling's picture
Steve Dowling from New York City is reading Freedom by Jonathan Franzen May 13, 2012 - 6:00am

For a one-star Great Expectations review:

"I looked forward to reading a classic of Dicken's. Like the title, Great Expectations were had, but not realized. None of the characters were likable, there was no character growth, and it rambled. I have taken great joy in reading Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mark Twain, and even Tolkien. At least Tolkien went on and on, it was with purpose and there was a point. Dickens' point was to say that life sucks and there is no point. In which case, what is the point of reading this book?"

What is the point of living?

And does every one-star review of this book have to play on the title?

Meredith's picture
Meredith from Houston, Texas is reading Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith May 13, 2012 - 7:00am

Thank you, @Dwayne! 

@Jack Campbell Jr - that guy is my favorite. 

@Steve Dowling - yes, the punny reviews are rampant. 

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated May 21, 2012 - 8:34am

@Meridith - yw

Terry Soileau's picture
Terry Soileau May 20, 2012 - 10:18am

Wow! This is encouraging. If my book gets any of those scathing "1 star" Amazon customer reviews, at least I'll be in good company!!

Zackery Olson's picture
Zackery Olson from Rockford, IL is reading pretty much anything I can get my hands on May 25, 2012 - 11:24pm

Nothing moves my annoy-o-meter from zero to homicidal like online book reviews...and yet I continue to read them. I must be some sort of masochist.

 

Love the Dracula review and the Farmer's Almanac crack though.

SarahElizabeth's picture
SarahElizabeth from Pennsylvania is reading All the Light We Cannot See; Monster October 15, 2012 - 6:55pm

The Dracula review was amazing. I find myself sort of hoping he was serious... only because it's fun to think somebody could be that dumb.

My favorite reviews are the DO NOT READ THIS BOOK UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES ones. As if doing so could cause a fatal attack of some sort. As if once you start you have no choice but to continue on until the bitter end. 

That being said, I've read some classics and wondered what the hype was about. I for one cannot STAND James Fenimore Cooper (I'm in good company; Mark Twain agrees with me). You have to admire somebody who, in the face of 6953 five star reviews, can say, "This book was awful!"