Nonrecommended Books
Fabian
Switzerland
Bern
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Recommend
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In the vein of something I recently came across (http://www.quackwatch.com/04ConsumerEducation/nonrecbooks.ht...), I thought there should be a geeklist about books that people do not recommend. Feel free to add anything you wish!
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1. Board Game: Twilight Struggle [Average Rating:8.34 Overall Rank:4]
Fabian
Switzerland
Bern
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The Twilight Saga, by Stephenie Meyer. It actually has a board game, but I didn't want the image of that one to sully this sparkingly beautiful, perfectly perfect, pale, hard, perfect, dreamy geeklist.
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2. Board Game: War and Peace [Average Rating:6.67 Overall Rank:2073]
¡dn ʇǝƃ ʇ,uɐɔ ı puɐ uǝllɐɟ ǝʌ,ı
Canada
Chestermere
Alberta
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Life lesson: Hamsters are NOT diswasher safe.
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I managed to slog my way through it one summer, but it was imminently forgettable for such a long and much-heralded book.

I can sum it up in seven words: Lots of war, not so much peace.
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3. Board Game: Dune [Average Rating:7.63 Overall Rank:217]
kSwingrÜber
United States
Ridgefield
Washington
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I guess the first one was okay, but reading the subsequent books was like wading through sand... blaaaaaaa...

At least a great game, and fairly good movie were the result!
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4. Board Game: The Wheel of Time Collectible Card Game [Average Rating:5.34 Overall Rank:14260]
Jim Cote
United States
Maine
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The first book was 90% ripped off from LotR, and not nearly as good.
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5. Board Game: Pride and Prejudice: The Game [Average Rating:4.20 Unranked]
Calavera Despierta
United States
Tucson
Arizona
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Anything by Jane Austen, but Pride and Prejudice in particular. Sadly, not even adding zombies can improve the abomination that is this book. Austen was the Stephenie Meyer of her day, and yet each year I have to sit in department meetings with so-called peers who want to extol the praises of this bimbo and her pile of brainless, overly wordy nit-wittery.

To quote a truly excellent writer on the subject of Jane Austen:

Mark Twain wrote:
Jane Austen? Why I go so far as to say that any library is a good library that does not contain a volume by Jane Austen. Even if it contains no other book.


and

Mark Twain wrote:
I haven't any right to criticise books, and I don't do it except when I hate them. I often want to criticise Jane Austen, but her books madden me so that I can't conceal my frenzy from the reader; and therefore I have to stop every time I begin. Everytime I read 'Pride and Prejudice' I want to dig her up and beat her over the skull with her own shin-bone.


End of discussion.

Apparently it's not. I get the sense that Austen is an, ahem, Sacred Cow, and attacking her is like attacking Agricola or Puerto Rico. I fully admit this is my personal opinion (though note that it is shared by the credible and highly intelligent Sam Clemens) and I don't mean to topple the bodices of her adoring zombies fans. Fortunately we don't all have to like the same things. In my book, this is the poster child for AVOID.
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6. Board Game: Xanth [Average Rating:4.99 Overall Rank:14920]
Chris Ferejohn
United States
Mountain View
California
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Anything by Piers Anthony. The best of them are barely tolerable grade-C author insertion fantasy tripe. The worst of them make Stephanie Myers look like Nabakov.
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7. Board Game: Liberté [Average Rating:7.17 Overall Rank:702]
Calavera Despierta
United States
Tucson
Arizona
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A Tale of Two Cities is another that I find worthy of avoidance.

It should be epic - it contains all the drama of the French Revolution, the class struggles, the religious tension, the horrible violence and upheaval, and yet Dickens manages to transform all of this wonderful source material into the basest melodrama!

He browbeats us with a nauseatingly simplistic light and dark motif, and then tries to justify it all with some sort of Christ-like heroic sacrifice on the part of his only well-developed character, Sydney Carton. Indeed Dickens idea of character development here is to provide us with the basest form of two-dimensional caricature for everyone but Sydney Carton, which ends up villainizing Lucy Manette, and that underdeserving scumbag Darnay.

And to top it all off, the prose style is so excessive, so inefficient, so bloated with degenerate diction, that it takes a test of will to just turn the page most times. This is what you get when you pay a hack by the word.
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8. Board Game: Atlas & Zeus [Average Rating:6.37 Overall Rank:4281]
Calavera Despierta
United States
Tucson
Arizona
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Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead, Anthem, and almost everything else by Ayn Rand.

Ayn Rand is watered down Nietzche for Republicans.

Every time someone brings up Objectivism, I think of that seminal scene in Monty Python's Life of Brian:

Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, & Michael Palin wrote:

Brian: Please, please, please listen! I've got one or two things to say.
The Crowd: Tell us! Tell us both of them!
Brian: Look, you've got it all wrong! You don't NEED to follow ME, You don't NEED to follow ANYBODY! You've got to think for your selves! You're ALL individuals!
The Crowd: Yes! We're all individuals!
Brian: You're all different!
The Crowd: Yes, we ARE all different!
Man in crowd: I'm not...
The Crowd: Ssssssh!

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9. Board Game: Gother Than Thou [Average Rating:4.60 Overall Rank:15270]
Calavera Despierta
United States
Tucson
Arizona
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The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath.

This hallmark of a novel seems to be a favorite with the goths and emo kids. I find it the worst kind of self-indulgent nonsense. Plath does very very little to make Esther Greenwood a sympathetic character, instead spending time on half-formed social commentary about women in the workplace. The protagonist cannot even commit suicide right, and in the end it is simplistic existentialism that seems to rescue her from herself. This is the crap that spawned a million Lifetime Network original movies. Even thinking about reading it again makes me throw up a little bit in my mouth.
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10. Board Game: Wrinkles in Time [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Gunther Schmidl
Austria
Linz
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A Wrinkle in Time. Hate. Hatehatehate.
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11. Board Game: La Beast [Average Rating:5.40 Unranked]
Wendell
United States
Yellow Springs
Ohio
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Si non potes reperire Berolini in tabula, ludens essetis non WIF.
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I read a lot of Robert Heinlein, and largely enjoyed it.

The Number of the Beast, however, was truly awful. It is the only science fiction novel that I have started to read and then quit, without finishing it. About a quarter of the way thru. Heinlein's nadir.

Thank goodness it was a library copy.
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12. Board Game: Strange But True? [Average Rating:3.45 Unranked]
kSwingrÜber
United States
Ridgefield
Washington
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Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell ... boring. Just plain boring. I really thought something was going to happen, so I kept reading and kept reading... what and idiot I was...

Many years later I stumbled upon Goblin Moon and its sequel: wow! this duology is everything I expected S&N to be.
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13. Board Game: Don Quixote [Average Rating:6.06 Overall Rank:4194]
 
Pete Belli
United States
Florida
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I tried. I made a sincere effort. Really.

Just watching Man of La Mancha isn't an option; I hate musicals.

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14. Board Game: The Road to Peace [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Chris Ferejohn
United States
Mountain View
California
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A Separate Peace.
Seems to be a frequently assigned middle school/high school book (I got it in 9th grade), and boy is it terrible. A paean to petty jealousy and lack of consequences. Just awful.
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15. Board Game: Talisman (Revised 4th Edition) [Average Rating:6.56 Overall Rank:1162]
Erin Sparks
United States
Garden City
Michigan
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I know I'll get roasted alive for this, but...

I enjoy a lot of Stephen King's books and there are a few I don't enjoy as much...but The Talisman is the only one I never bothered to finish. So many of my friends consider this their favorite book, but I was amazed that King developed this huge fantasy world that the main character can travel through, but spends so much time in our world in tedious locales having awful things happen to him. I got tired of waiting for him to get back to the other world and gave up.
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16. Board Game: Wizardology: The Game [Average Rating:4.36 Overall Rank:15168]
Matt Taylor
United States
Fairfax
Vermont
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This for Wizard's First Rule. I actually thought the first book was OK but the series descended into some pit. Whole books that are fairly described as "the author doesn't like communism" and there are worse. I laughed as the first rule was revealed "People are stupid" but that was the high point. How the hell did this get made into a show?
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17. Board Game: When Darkness Comes [Average Rating:5.58 Overall Rank:11678]
Bret Clifton
United States
Newman Lake
Washington
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Stave it off, 1 2 3, now you can count to three!
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Heart of Darkness

Had a hard time with this one. Didn't really get it. To get the somewhat same message, I suggest instead Chinua Achebe's When Things Fall Apart
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18. Board Game: The Pillars of the Earth [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:230]
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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Utter tripe, complete with the liberated feminist, stupid plot, over-drama with cliffhangers at the end of each chapter and characters that are so anachronistic it really makes me laugh. How books like this get popular always amazes me.
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19. Board Game: The Da Vinci Code Game [Average Rating:4.89 Overall Rank:14478]
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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Both books I was hoodwinked into reading by this guy - a so-pale Eco wannabe - shocked me as to how badly written they were, with repeated prose, the required contrived cliffhangers, the continual amazement evinced by the protagonists, despite the fact they have had two damn books to be continually surprised: don't they ever learn? And why must EVERY mystery be solved under the pressure of time at the last second despite being unsolved for 'centuries'? I really, really detest this book, so amateurish and with so many ideas ripped off from other people. As I recall, it was even his wife who did the research!
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20. Board Game: Gravity Trap [Average Rating:5.46 Unranked]
Chris Ferejohn
United States
Mountain View
California
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Gravity's Rainbow
I'm not really sure I should include this, because I may just not be smart enough to understand it, and so many people insist it is a great book. I've tried twice to get through it, and both times I hit a wall about 1/3 of the way through. There are bits and passages where I start to get pulled in, but then it's suddenly 10 pages of stream-of-consciousness with no punctuation where the point of view is jumping around randomly.

Once I start reading a book, it's pretty rare for me to give up, and for me to give up because I just can't comprehend it is basically unheard of, but this one has proven my better so far.

I'll try it again when I'm 50.
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21. Board Game: The Vampire Game [Average Rating:4.30 Overall Rank:14777]
Dean
Canada
Ottawa
Ontario
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Interview with the Vampire

Maybe this doesn't need to be included here, but perhaps this will prevent some other poor soul from being suckered into reading any of the Anne Rice vampire books. Suckered in like I was all those years ago.

I've heard lots of good things about this series. People who usually share the same tastes as I do raved about them. Fabulous, amazing and wonderful stuff, I was told. So when I saw the complete series on the cheap I decided to pick them up.

I actually made it through "Interview" and then promptly forgot that I'd purchased the others. When I mentioned my disappointment in the book to others (not those who recommended it) they agreed. "Yeah, it sucks, and not in the good Vampire way".

Why did it annoy me so? Well, consider that I can rewrite the entire book as a short BASIC program.

10 PRINT "Oh Boo Hoo. "
14 PRINT "I'm a soulless wretched creature of darkness "
18 PRINT "that no one can possibly understand."
20 GOTO 10


Gah!

Edit to make the BASIC 'non-scrolly'.
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22. Board Game: Infinite Chess [Average Rating:6.00 Unranked]
Mark Gerrits
Belgium
Leuven
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Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace

I know this book resonates deeply with a lot of people but if, like me, you're not one of those who mystically grok it, it's an absolute pain in the ass to slog through. I read it during the Infinite Summer project last year and barely survived the experience.
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23. Board Game: Dracula [Average Rating:6.21 Overall Rank:2505]
Mark Gerrits
Belgium
Leuven
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You can slag Stephanie Meyer and Anne Rice all you want, they deserve it, but this granddaddy of Vampire literature is hardly any better.

The only way Bram Stoker's Dracula was even slightly enjoyable to me was to read it as a parody of Victorian gender politics and the prototypical "new man" but even so it was only mildly interesting.
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24. Board Game: Greed Incorporated [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:1587]
Matt Olson
Australia
Darlington
WA
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The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald was a huge disappointment for me. I remember drawing close to the end and wondering when the 'wonderful novel' part would fire up, or the epiphany be revealed.

I realise that I may have missed some key point; such as with Spike Jonze's recent movie Where the Wild Things Are, which left me wondering what that was all about, until a month later when it clicked that it was about divorce - now I think it's genius.
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25. Board Game: Bear & Bull [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
L. Stitz
Germany
Lüneburg
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Tee-hee-hee-hee-hi-hihihi-hu-hua-huar-huarrrRRRrrrrrr.
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There was a time I read a lot of Tom Clancy, and "The Hunt for Red October" was my favourite book for some years (rivalled only maybe by Eco's "The Name of the Rose" and the books of Michael Ende), and I also really liked "Rainbow Six".

But this ended abruptly when reading "The Bear and the Dragon". Boy, this was not only bad, its negative stereotyping bordered on racism. I must admit that I never again touched a book by Clancy in the 10 years since, except when I was moving and had to pack and unpack them. However, it occurred to me that by 2000 Clancy was only in it for the money, at the rate in which he was churning out huge tomes of sh...
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