5 popular books I did not like.

Updated: May 5, 2021

Also, 5 better books I recommend instead! Scroll down for the list.

Picture by Freepik

If you don't like to read, you haven't found the right book. J.K. Rowling

Here is a confession. However tough it was, I had to skip certain books for my sanity and to preserve my unconditional love for reading.

'Once you start reading a book, especially an acclaimed one, you'd be either dumb or boring if you don't end up liking it or to the least finish reading it.' This philosophy has dragged millions of readers to a never-ending reader's guilt. I've been there too. Trust me, I've tried harder to get through many such 'popular' books and had put my sanity and interest in reading at stake. But eventually, for my good, I had to slash out these books from my reading pile.


So, without the fear of being judged, here I share 5 unreadable books and their interesting, must-read substitutes.


1. Milkman by Anna Burns

Instead read: When I hit you by Meena Kandasamy

Few pages into this book and I could not care about anything at all - be it the plot, characters, or even the setting of the book. I'd picked this book for a book club. Influenced by the beautiful cover and the glorious title i.e. 'The Man Booker Award' it has received in the year 2018, I had high hopes from this book.

As far as I made it into this book, I understood that the protagonist who is a teenager is harassed by a 41-year-old man who is apparently the milkman. He is familiar with the protagonist's schedule and follows her, and even threatens her. The protagonist keeps quiet about what she is suffering. I skipped the book after that because:

  1. The characters are addressed by their relationship labels such as 'middle-sister,' 'first brother-in-law,' 'third brother-in-law,' etc. which annoyed me and also made it a bit difficult for me to remember who was who since there are quite a few characters.

  2. The sentences seemed unnecessarily complicated - I felt an overuse of synonyms.

  3. The plot felt jumbled up, making me lose track and thus failed to engage me.

Click here to read 'Milkman'

I recommend:

When I hit you by Meena Kandasamy

A poetic, moving and realistic account of domestic abuse and harassment. I loved the protagonist, who is a writer. Her struggle felt real. The language was simple yet strong. The book felt like a piece of art. When I Hit You explores love, relationships, abuse, bonds and a fierce take on it all.

Click here to read 'When I hit you'


2. The God of small things by arundhati roy

Instead read: The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

Another Booker Prize winner, 'The God of Small Things' is the debut novel of Arundhati Roy. Set in Kerala, between the '60s and the '90s, the story primarily revolves around the lives of fraternal twins - Estha and Rahel who are separated in their childhood but years later when they meet, they redefine the 'laws of love'. This book failed to hold my interest because:

  1. The scenes were overly detailed I felt.

  2. The plot was moving ahead at a tortoise pace.

  3. There was confusion throughout since the novel was navigating through fragments, back and forth. I could not really figure out what was happening. It felt like I was wandering in dark, not sure where to reach.

Click here to read 'The God of Small Things'

I recommend:

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

A beautifully written debut novel by Lahiri, The Namesake instantly established a personal touch with me. Everything in the book feels exactly in its place, perfect and engaging. The book travels between events that took place in Calcutta, Boston, and New York City. The story explores how immigration affects the lives of the Bengali Indian couple, Ashima and Ashoke Ganguly.

Torn between the two conflicting cultures, with different ideologies, social life and beliefs, the book treats us by exposing the reality and depth of identity, emotions, choices and family relationships.

Click here to read 'The Namesake'


3. Pinocchio by carlo collodi

Instead read: The Witches by Roald Dahl

Honestly, I felt that the tale of Pinocchio has nothing much to offer. The story felt stretched because of the repetition of similar circumstances Pinocchio lands in. I was bored after a point. Reading the book felt like a Déjà vu, being stuck as if there isn't any way out.

Click here to read 'Pinocchio'

I recommend:

The Witches by Roald Dahl

'The Witches' by Roald Dahl is creative, magical and stirred a curiosity in me. An absolute page-turner as it is, the book is about a young English boy and his Norwegian grandmother who fights against child-hating societies of witches that secretly exist in every country. I loved Dahl's imagination and how he smoked life into it through his wonderful writing.

Click here to read 'The Witches'


4. The Woman in The Window by A.J. Finn

Instead read: Then she was gone by Lisa Jewell

Anna, the woman in the window, spies on her neighborhood with her camera (probably because she has nothing else to do except drinking). She is suffering from agoraphobia and lives alone. She is extremely sad not having her family i.e. her husband and daughter living with her.

It happens so that one day, she witnesses a murder in her neighborhood. Nobody believes her when she tells about it due to her agoraphobic condition. I didn't read what happened next because:

  1. The book is very slow. You go on reading pages after pages but nothing relevant happens.

  2. I don't know how, but the writing did not make me care about Anna or either of the characters in the book.

  3. There was no feeling of thrill even when I reached almost halfway through the book.

Click here to read 'The Woman in the Window '

I recommend:

Then she was gone by Lisa Jewell

Ellie Mack, a 15-year-old girl, leaves home to study in a library and is never seen again. No one knows what has happened to Ellie. The police never find a trace of her. After ten whole years, as a result of circumstances, things began to unfold gradually with an unexpected revelation about Ellie and the revolving characters.

All the characters in the book feel so real. I especially loved how Jewell has written Laurel, Ellie's mother. Each character has their pain, insecurities, past and whatnot. There was not a moment where I felt disconnected from the plot. It's thrilling.

Click here to read 'Then She Was Gone'


5. The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

Instead read: Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

I admit I found this a good read at the start. I was even intrigued to know how the story unfolds. But more than halfway through the book, I realized that the same pattern is being repeated which felt monotonous.

Stella Lane, the protagonist, is doing well in her career but in her personal life, she is single since ever. She believes that to get a boyfriend, she needs to first get physical with that man the right way. She does have sexual relationships, but there is not any enjoyment in it. Assuming that she lacks something in her, she hires a male escort, Michael, for professional lessons on sex.

Stella and Michael are instantly attracted to each other and predictably fall in love with each other (because of good looks and good sex?). There is nothing much happening between them except lots and lots of sex. I believe, love and sex are two different things! Enjoying sex can't be the only parameter to how much you love that person (the book was trying to make a contrary impression).

The repeated sex scenes felt boring after a certain point and I had to stop reading the book as I was turned off!

Click here to read 'The Kiss Quotient'

I recommend:

Norwegian wood by Haruki Murakami

Norwegian wood is my first book by Murakami and I am impressed by his work. The book is narrated in the voice of Toru Watanabe where he describes his nostalgia by sharing memories from his college days in Tokyo. The story explores depression, suicide, grief, loss, love, longing and sexuality. It's beautifully crafted and transported me to an altogether different world.

Click here to read 'Norwegian wood'

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