The 30-Day Book Meme – Day 7 and 8 Book Meme Questions

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In today’s post, I am going to answer the next 2 questions of this book meme.

Day 07 – Most underrated book
Day 08 – Most overrated book

Most Underrated Book

This is a tough one. There are tons of books that are not loved by critics but have mass appeal. So, it’s very difficult to pick just one.

However, one thought that comes to my mind is that in spite of this current vampire craze with so many book series coming out – Twilight, House of Night, Sookie Stackhouse, and so on…people seem to have forgotten some of the classic vampire fiction written by Anne Rice.

Her books straddle nicely the divide between literary and popular fiction and I loved her rich style of writing, which I think captures the southern setting so very well.

Most Overrated Book

Oh! There are so many highly rated books that I just don’t enjoy at all. But, if I had to choose, I would put any novel written by Don DeLillo on top of my most overrated books list. I first read Underworld, struggled through it, and then thought such a highly rated author can’t be this bad ummm…searching for the right politically correct term here…please help me fill in the blanks. Then, I proceeded to read Mao II, Libra, White Noise, and The Body Artist (which was tolerable only because of its brevity).

After this, I decided Don DeLillo is just not for me at all. Not just that, I went a step further and decided that modern American fiction is not for me at all. Consequently, I have never read any Philip Roth, Bret Easton Ellis, Jonathan Franzen, or David Foster Wallace.

Quite an achievement, that!

How about you? What are the most overrated books you have read? Have you read Don DeLillo? What did you think?

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  • Pingback: September Meme: Classics Club Question #2 – Nishita's Rants and Raves()

  • I was required to read “Ratner’s Star” in college and I found it to be an utterly incoherent mess. Unlikable characters, incomprehensible plot, bad writing, failed attempts at humor. Also very little insight into the human condition. So teenage boys are horny? Is that supposed to be a major revelation? I can’t say anything about Delillo’s other books but that one is an utter waste of time.

    By the way, this Book Meme idea caught my fancy and I’ll be posting my own responses over here:

    http://theblogthatwasthursday.wordpress.com/

  • To be honest, I’m a lot harder on books that receive tons of praise. It’s because my expectations skyrocket (it’s hard not to get overly excited when it sounds so great) but when I read it, it’s not what I expected. One YA set of books that just didn’t do it for me but everyone was raving about was The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness. That book was totally off the mark for me, even though the premise and the reviews were largely positive. I can think of a lot of books that I feel are underrated but I think that’s because of my taste.

  • Yeah, DeLillo, grr! 😉 But I’ve actually come to appreciate some of his stuff, the shorter newer ones of course. The Body Artists was pretty amazing for me, both in terms of writing and representation of trauma.
    Haven’t read Franzen, but hope you’ll give BEE a try, Am. Psycho is great and very funny!

  • I think The Tenent of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte was extremely underrated, it was such a modern novel. Maybe it got overshadowed because it did not have the flourishes of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights.

    Overrated books: hmm.. something like Dan Brown? Paulo Cuehlo? Chetan Bhagat? Do these guys get lucky or what?

    Anyhow do try Philip Roth, esp his earlier works. He is awesome.

  • I think YA books are overrated. Excuse me, YA fans! There are some good Young Adult books but some others just have the hype around it for a while.

  • I will vote for Jonathan Franzen as the most overrated writer today. I read Corrections. This book has an extremely boring beginning in which I thought the author is striving too hard to be funny and not succeeding. I thought Franzen lacks sympathy for his characters. There seems to be a lack of compassion. I wanted some redeeming spiritual truth to be revealed but the author seems intent on depicting a spiritual desert. It took the length of the book for me to develop love for these characters, because none of them are immediately likeable and I never do come to like Gary. The mundaneness of the situations at first irritated me and the overall negative picture he paints of American society. Are these people caricatures or great literary characters? By the amount of praise this novel has received, the reader is made to think it is one of the greatest books of the times. Because the author himself does not seem to possess some spiritual truth of his own, I do not see how this book will endure as one the great books of American literature, let’s say, as the way Tolstoy’s works endure for Russia.

    I have not read DeLillo. I would read him for the reason I read Franzen – find out why the literary critics think he’s great. The descriptions of his book frankly don’t interest me.

    An overrated best seller is Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones. With an intriguing idea that starts out well, the novel falls apart half-way through and totally loses its promise.

    In the underrated category I would also put Anne Rice works up to about 1998. Then her work falls off for me. I particularly think the early historical novels Feast of All Saints and Cry to Heaven are overlooked. I agree that her vampire books are great and are more than just vampire stories with the rich mythology, intricate relationships and gorgeous language she uses. The Mayfair Witch books through Taltos are great books. You correctly identify the strength of her work. She straddles the divide betweent literary and popular fiction. That is why she is snubbed by Squaw Valley Writers’ Community where she got her start with Interview with a Vampire. I know whereof I write because I attended it twice and was an avid Rice fan, running an adult education course on her books.

    Joyce Carol Oates has been passed over for the Putlitzer Prize. Her books are underrated or overlooked in any list of great books I’ve seen. For me she ranks in the top circle of great American writers. Her novels never fail to engage me. In her great body of work, she has captured the good, the bad and ugly of America.

  • Mae

    I’ve never read Delillo but it’s only because sci-fi/fantasy doesn’t really interest me at all. You should give Bret Easton Ellis a go. I really liked American Psycho – suprisingly!

  • I concur on your first answer but as I have not read any of the authors you mention for the 2nd one, do not think I can comment on that.

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