I feel like this is a bad idea. But I’m doing it anyway!

I went (on Amazon) and bought the five lowest rated books on my Goodreads TBR. Well, I bought four, because I already owned one (which actually ended up being my least favorite of the bunch). I spent my own hard-earned money on books with bad reviews for a blog post. But I couldn’t resist finding out what I thought of the lowest rated books on my TBR. I’m just glad these books were there to provide a buffer between me and finally having to read The Canterbury Tales in full (it was really, really close).

Here are the five lowest rated books on my Goodreads TBR, and what I thought of them:

The Psychopath Inside: A Neuroscientist’s Personal Journey into the Dark Side of the Brain by James Fallon: average GR rating 3.42

This one actually started out fairly interesting. Mostly because it was fun to read about all the traits of psychopaths and figure out how many psychopaths I know. I should have seen what was coming, because the author openly admits that one of the most obvious traits he shares with other psychopaths is narcissism. Just imagine a narcissist you know, and what their memoir would be like. It was a lot of, sure, I’m a psychopath, but I’m also awesome. Which got old pretty quickly. I can see why people dislike this book. I gave it three stars, simply because I found the science fascinating, but I wouldn’t really recommend it. My rating: 3 stars.

Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler: average GR rating 3.39

The Taming of the Shrew is one of my favorite Shakespearean comedies, so I was very excited to read this one. It had been sitting on my shelf for a few years, and I’m glad I had an excuse to finally get to it. And that is where the excitement ended. Because I kind of hated this book. I don’t think it did the characters justice at all. I’ve always been a fan of Kat, but I really did not like what Anne Tyler turned her into. I also didn’t like any of the other characters. It vaguely resembled the original, but somehow it made it worse. I did not enjoy reading it at all. I’m fine with modernizing Shakespeare, and I’ve seen Taming of the Shrew adapted well (10 Things I Hate About You is one of my favorite movies), but it didn’t work here. Arranged marriages might work in the 16th century, but it felt pretty creepy in this context (Kat’s father basically tries to pimp her out to his assistant so he can keep working in the US). I felt uncomfortable and annoyed the entire time I was reading. My rating: 1 star.

The Anatomy of Dreams by Chloe Benjamin: average GR rating 3.39

This is probably the one I was most excited for, since I loved Chloe Benjamin’s second novel, The Immortalists. This one was… weird. It started out slow and then got more interesting. Then, about halfway into the book, I got bored. The ending was exciting (and crazy), though, so it did redeem itself. It took me a while to figure out how I felt about this book. I still have mixed feelings. I ended up enjoying it, but not loving it. It wasn’t as engaging as The Immortalists. Reminding myself that this was her first published novel helped, because her writing wasn’t as good as in The Immortalists. I can definitely see why people dislike this book, but, overall, I liked it. My rating: 3.5 stars (rounded up to 4 on GR).

The Last Man by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley: average GR rating 3.34

I really enjoyed Frankenstein, and I love Mary Shelley, so of course I wanted to read more of her work. This was the perfect excuse. It’s a slow start – I went into this thinking it was more post-apocalyptic (sort of like Frankenstein), but the apocolypse/plague doesn’t happen until like halfway through the book – but I did enjoy it. It reminded me why I love Romantic literature, because this was quintessential Romantic literature. All the references to nature and love are just so beautiful. This felt more like poetry than a novel about a plague that wipes out the entire human race. And I kind of loved it. My rating: 4 stars (maybe even 4.5).

The Marriage Game: A Novel of Queen Elizabeth I by Alison Weir: average GR rating 3.28

I love Alison Weir. I’m obsessed with her Six Tudor Queens series. And I enjoyed the first book in this series (or duology), The Lady Elizabeth, when I read it years ago. It’s actually one of the books that got me into Alison Weir. Unfortunately, this wasn’t her best. The writing just wasn’t as great as I know her writing can be. And the story of Elizabeth I and Robert Dudley is just a little old for me. I read a lot about it in high school/early college after reading Philippa Gregory’s The Virgin’s Lover. Which wasn’t necessarily better, it’s just the one I happened to read first. This story wasn’t anything new or special for me, which made it harder to get through this book. I’m definitely a big Alison Weir fan, but this wasn’t my favorite. My rating: 3 stars.

So, What’s the Verdict?

This was kind of a mixed bag. I’m not really surprised none of these were five stars (though The Last Man came pretty close), but I honestly wasn’t really expecting to actually dislike any of these. Overall, I think it was an interesting experiment and definitely worth doing.

This post took so much planning – especially considering what’s coming up in tomorrow’s post (or the post I’ll hopefully be publishing tomorrow – this posting every day thing is hard, guys) – but I had a lot of fun with it. It’s something different for me, but I think I’m going to start doing more posts like this. What do you think? Did you like this post? Would you like to see more themed reading posts from me?

What’s the lowest rated book on your TBR?

Also read: The Value in Reading Bad Books

18 thoughts

  1. I love this idea, I’ll definitely gonna try this! My lowest rated book is The mysterious flame of queen Loana by Umberto Eco, and it’s on my 2020 reading list. I just realised that out of 5 lowest rated books on my TBR, I already own 4 😁

    1. You can do it! I had already owned one of them before I started this. And if one of them’s already on your 2020 reading list, you kind of have to, right? (You see how I convince myself to read things.)

      1. Actually, I’m really looking forward to reading that lowest rated one. It seems interesting and I love Eco. I also get why the rating is low, not that many people like him 🙂

  2. I also thought this was a good idea and it was interesting to read your opinions of the low rated books. From one star to 4 or 4.5 is quite a wide range! Your review of The Last Man is most interesting to me because I only had vaguely negative ideas about it. Now I’m much more curious.

    The lowest-ranked book on my Goodreads TBR is The Lightstep by John G.H. Dickinson. I was curious about a book by the son of Peter Dickinson (a writer I admire) but looking at this again I doubt I will ever actually read it.

    1. I was actually looking forward to reading all of these books. I was surprised but the one-star book, because I genuinely did think I’d like it (even more than The Last Man). I might actually do this again (eventually) because the results were pretty interesting.

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