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Following the best reads, of course, comes the worst reads. I genuinely hate some of these books, but the worst ones I had to read for class so I actually had to finish them. But here are some books that I highly recommend every stay away from.

“Adjustment Day” by Ch*ck P*alanuik

I loathe this guy. It’s number one for a reason, folks—this is the worst book I read this year and definitely in my top five worst books I’ve ever read. I think Palanuik has some good ideas (and it truly pains me to say even that), but he executes them horribly. This book basically tells the story of what would happen if a bunch of stupid teen boys violently took over America. They divide the states into Caucasia, Blacktopia (AKA Martin Luther Kingdom), and Gaysia. They send anyone who isn’t white, black, or gay (in Gaysia race doesn’t matter, but don’t even think about being bisexual) outside the country, usually back to “wherever they came from.” The book sucks. Chuck Palanuik sucks.

“Loner” by Teddy Wayne

Also in my top five worst books ever. This basically tells the story of a guy who goes to college and becomes obsessed with a girl and tries to rape her after being rejected by her numerous times throughout the year. He should go to jail, but because his parents are rich he gets off by just being expelled from Harvard. I wanted this book to be a social commentary that brought some sort of insightfulness about sexual assault and stalking on college campuses, but if that’s what Wayne was trying to do, he failed. Don’t waste your time.

“Fight Club” by Ch*ck P*alanuik

Do you see a theme emerging? I had to read both his books for a class, and I will never read anything by him ever again (or at least by my own will, I don’t know what future professors have in store for me). The last fifty or so pages were kind of interesting, but if you have to get through 200 pages in order to be interested, is the book worth the read? In my opinion, no.

“The Confessions of Max Tivoli” by Andrew Sean Greer

Yes, this is the same Greer who wrote Less, my all-time favorite book. I guess they can’t all be hits. Basically, Max is born Benjamin Button style and falls in love with the girl downstairs, Alice, but he can’t be with her because despite only being three years older than her, he looks like he’s probably 60 years older than her. Greer has a beautiful way with words, and while I did enjoy reading this book, by the end of the book I just felt… wrong. Max becomes super creepy with his Alice obsession, going so far as to (SPOILER) fake being an abandoned child so he can live out his final years… as her son. The characters were beautifully crafted, the storyline was intriguing despite being a retelling of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, but the way the novel ended made it land on the worst books that I read this year because it’s so gross, I really couldn’t let it go.

Some of these books are worse than others (I’m looking at you, Chuck). I’m aware of the literary weight Palanuik has, but honestly, I think he only has the hype because he’s a white guy with semi-good (and very poorly executed) ideas, and the literary world seems to lose their mind about guys like him. I’m a big believer in buying used books, which is what I did for all four of these books, and to be honest, none of them were worth the buy. I’m also a big believer in rereading books, but I wouldn’t go near these books again with a ten foot pole. The second I could get rid of Adjustment Day, I tossed it in the pile of books to donate in my dorm lobby and mentally set it on fire.

So, there’s my list. Like I said in my list of the best books of this year, I’m really glad my list of good books is a lot longer than my list of bad books. May the new year bring nothing but good reads and absolutely no Chuck Palanuik.

Alexandra McGrew

Seattle U '21

Reading. Musical theater. Writing, writing, writing.
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