Scathing Book Reviews of The Diary of Anne Frank, by Anne Frank

The Diary of Anne Frank, by Anne Frank, (naturally) is one of those books that I just can’t bring myself to read because of the “depression factor”.  I’ve seen two Film Adaptations of the Diary of Anne Frank and I just can’t bring myself to read the book, because you know, there just isn’t going to be a happy ending. 

I think Anne Frank’s Diary is assigned reading for Junior High and High School students in both English and History classes because it makes the kids realize that history impacts real people their own age, like Anne, rather than just unfolding in dry history books or in black and white documentaries. 

These Scathing Book Reviews of the Diary of Anne Frank don’t take issue with the Holocaust, but with the content of the book, and wish that Anne was a bit more Frank about the history unfolding outside the annex:

I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but Anne Frank is more boring than the Home and Garden channel. She writes well, but why in the world should students have to read about her life as a young girl who does only one thing, complains. She goes on and on and on about NOTHING. It is like reading a broken record. I can’t believe that anyone could enjoy this book. I would rather watch professional bowling than read this book again.

…and:

I know that the holocoust was horrible and something that we do not want to repeat again but Anne Frank is just BORING. im not prejudice and i feel horrible about the holocaust but what i don’t get is why is this girl complaining about her life? she had it way better off then some people. And why this diary is even famous. Anyone from the holocaust could have written a diary and be made famous.

…and:

hey i am 13 years old like her and had to read it for my school and i thought it was the most boring book i have ever read. I mean i totally respect the holocaust and i am not pregiduce i just hated that book and it totally wasted my time. THANK YOU

…and:

It was really really boring. Its about some girl and her life- who cares!?! It is a total girly-girl book. Too dull to even care.

…and this utterly misgueded review, who seems to think Anne Frank decided to write the diary to become “famouse”:

This book was soo boring i read 2 pages then i burnt it. If you read this book i will personaly burn it for u……. SHe dint need to rite a fricken diary she just wanted to become famouse and she wanted people to feel sorry for her!!!!!!!

Scathing Book Reviews of The Glass Menagerie, by Tennesee Williams

The Glass Menagerie by Tennesee Williams isn’t a book per se, but a play, but on the other hand, I had to read it in Mrs. Williams English III Class, so there.  It’s most famous as New York Stage Production, but was originally written as a screenplay, and filmed twice, once in 1950, and again in 1987.  

I remember that after we finished reading the play we watched the movie during class in High School.  I came away profoundly depressed by the message.   “The movie says that you just can’t win!” I thought, and then “What if that happens to me?”.  I also remember wondering how Tennesee Ernie Ford, who I had mixed up with Tennesee Williams in my mind, could seem like such nice guy on TV and write such a bitter play.  Honest! 

Now with more adult context, and a better understanding of which Tennesee is which, I have greater appreciation of the play and its characters, but I’m not convinced that its the most encouraging required reading for High School.  I do recommend The Glass Menagerie as a play, book and movie, but these Book Reviews of The Glass Menagerie think its cracked:

Why is it that in order for a book, play, or piece of literature to be considered “Great” it has to make you feel like you just walked through an emotional meat-grinder and rolled around in broken glass for a few hours? …This play should be issued with a bottle of St. John’s Wort. Thanks Tennessee!

…and:

This play can stand right beside “Death of a Salesman” as a depressing, pessimistic propaganda on how to deal with life’s challenges.

…and:

I am an action man so I really didn’t dig it to much. If your into drama and like sad stories about a drunk or a crippled depressed girl who’s mom keeps pressuring her to get out and find a man.Or if you like drunks that lie.This is the book for you.

…and:

I found Laura, Tom, Amanda and Jim to be terrible characters added to an already terribly boring and predictable plot that was excruciatingly difficult to bear. Concurrently, Tennesse Williams struggled hardcore so I am not surprised. Peace out.

…and:

A Tragedy to Literature…This play is filled with symbols, metaphores, and all that jazz, expecting you to feel for the characters and Tom. No, his unenthusiastic approaches at life, and depressed facade turn down any simpathy you feel for him. Amanda the mother is obnoxious, end of story. And Laura the sister is SO helpless you can’t help from stopping to want to end her life now. Don’t buy the play DON’T DO NOT watch it and never think about it again. Horrible.

…and a review by a High Schooler in need of some remedial spelling classes:

i am a frechman in highschool. i have read a varity of books such as A seperate peace, romeo and juliet, the odessey, and a bunch of other hard books. BUT THIS ONE I hated!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Scathing Book Reviews of The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini

The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini was not written to profit by America’s involvement in Afghanistan (I hope), but it certainly gained a great deal of attention due to U.S. presence there.  I imagine that if Americans weren’t in the country in great numbers, The Kite Runner would have been relegated to the lower shelves of most bookstores, regardless of its quality.  Don’t believe me?  When was the last time you read a coming of age story set in Sri Lanka or Nepal?  I’m not begrudging Hosseini his success, mind you.

Anyway, the Kite Runner become a succesful book and of course, a Kite Runner movie, nominated for an Academy Award.  Given the subject matter and some very harrowing scenes, its not exactly a beach book, but it is indeed a best seller, and the recipient of over 2400 reviews on Amazon as of August 2008.  I imagine I’ll read the Kite Runner sooner or later, but the readers who left these Scathing Book Reviews of The Kite Runner wish that Hosseini would go fly one:

If cable channels produced daytime soap-operas, this is what they would look like.

…and:

Never again do I pick up a book that has an Entertainment Weekly blurb listed TWICE on its cover.

…and:

This novel is so contrived, far-fetched, melodramatic, and poorly constructed that I am actually worried for America because it was a #1 bestseller… Let’s Let’s just say: if you enjoy reading fiction with engaging, fully drawn characters, tension and conflict, an innovative use of language and surprise, you won’t like this book.

…and:

After reading this book, I’m absolutely astonished at the hype it’s gotten. The only thing to which I can attribute its popularity is its Afghan setting, because everything else about it I’ve seen before–in a hundred other hackneyed, contrived, badly written pieces of fiction. Hosseini’s prose could not be more trite and cliche-ridden.

…and:

How did this book get any good reviews? I’d give it twenty dead turkeys if I could!

…and:

Really, It’s balls. This is the worst book in the universe.

…and one of the truly harshest reviews I’ve ever read about ANY book:

 Reading it is like lounging around inside the deviant mind of the most gruesome and perverted of all serial killers when that serial criminal is continually scheming to stalk and harm the most loving and innocent soul you could ever meet. I honestly feel soiled by such perpetually filthy and creepy plotting.

 

(official site)

Scathing Book Reviews of Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare

Romeo and Julietby William Shakespeareis certainly a story you can’t avoid. They say the story of star-crossed lovers was old even when Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet, but even if its true, its never been done so indelibly.

Take Romeo and Juliet away and you also lose West Side Storyand a good hunk of Shakespeare in Love. On the other hand, without the play there wouldn’t have been that insufferable Romeo + Juliet Moviewith Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes, so maybe its a fair trade. Either way, these book reviews of Romeo and Juliet agree that “For never was a story of more woe / Than this of Juliet and her Romeo”:

We liked the end when all the main characters died. It left me a great message.

…and:

Shakespeare’s book, Romeo and Juliet, is placed in the 18th century. A time in which women were not considered as thinking people or capable of having any feelings.

…and:

They arent star crossed! They are inane idiots too immersed in “love” to recognize the imprudence of their actions. Their deaths were not the least bit pitiful, but risible. Cognitive, yes. Irritating, yes. Interesting? No.

…and:

*R&J* is simply sensationalist trash. It contains a good portion of Shakespeares worst verse and insipid characterizations. It’s unchallenging, crude, and simply melodrama for the most part. It’s the Shakespearean equivalent of “Party of Five” and the Spice Girls.

…and:

As I didn’t liked the story at all I cant say lots of things about it but if I had to rewrite the book, I would do it in modern English. Old Englih is one of the reasons I didn’t liked the book. Another reason is that is a very predictable story and it has only 2 themes: Romeo and Juliet’s love and the war between their families.

…and:

For me Romeo is the worst character because he only thinks about Juliet and kissing her.

…and:

It was supposed to be tragic; I thought it was hilarious. First, everybody says that Romeo and Juliet were lovers torn apart by fate. Fate had nothing to do with it! They died through sheer stupidity and melodrama on their part.

…and:

Sometimes you wish someone would just say something straight out, instead of dressing it up with so many frills and flowers you don’t know what they’re trying to say. But I have nothing against Shakespearean English.

…and, most incredibly, the review below. I have no idea what the English teacher was thinking, but learning to read an Elizabethan play is NOT going to help you learn to speak modern English, methinks:

We are from Argentina and learning English. Our teacher recommended the book Romeo + Juliet, we thought this book was going to increase our vocabulary and help us understand better the English language, but it didn’t, instead it made it more difficult.

As Gilbert Gottfried would say, “WHY AM I NOT SURPRISED”…

Scathing Book Reviews of War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy is probably the most famous book that the fewest have ever read. To rephrase, we’ve all heard of it. Most of us haven’t read it.

Why? Its reputation for complexity and for length (although it’s 2 places behind Atlas Shrugged in the list of longest novels.) I remember, of all things, a Get Smart gag in which an assassin tried to kill Max with a sword, only for Max to block it with a copy of War and Peace. Max’s line? “No one ever gets through War and Peace!” Well to me it was funny… For these reviewers, “War” never seemed to end:

Let me start by acknowledging that Leo Tolstoy is often regarded as one of the preeminent authors of all time. Let me follow that with the acknowledgement that many consider “War and Peace” to be the greatest triumph in human literature… Let me follow that by saying that I don’t get it.

…and:

If you don’t have time to read this book then read the cliff notes and skip to the last 80 pages of the book. They’re all that really matter.

…and:

I always look for myself in a book. As I read the endless but addictive pages of Tolstoy’s classic masterpiece, I found myriads and myriads of characters. I did not find one that was courageous, loving, bashful, angry, shy, ticklish, confused, clear-thinking, beautiful, handsome, tall, big-boned, wonderful, life-of-the-party, interesting, creative, and desirable. These are all qualities that I identify as my own.

…and:

This type of literature is not going to hold an audience anymore. So many people have the opportunity to live interesting lives nowadays why would they stop to read a novel of this length about a bunch of fictional charaters when they could be spending the time actually LIVING their own lives? It was a real drag.

…and:

Tolstoy was such self-important, disrespectful, intolerant, bum!

…and:

I have been struggling to get through it for 20 years (true story… I started reading this dreck in 1984) and I’m just now 1/2 way through. How this long-winded pointless book became known as one of the great novels is beyond me.

…and:

Im 11, thatas probably why i really dont like the book, but my point made is, my mom grounded me and made me read war and peace, and it was the worst punistment i have ever been through, i asked my family to read a page of it, and they all fell asleep, sorry to all the people that liked it

…and this review, in which Bret Easton Ellis is associated with Leo Tolstoy for perhaps the first and last time:

I am sure Bret Easton Ellis would have a field day with the social elite that inhabit War and Peace, for they are the most shallow, self-destructive people of that time… it all boils down to this: If you like watching people swoon over and fight one another while the more important issues , like defending one’s country, are placed as a backdrop for their pathetic lives, than this is the book for you.

Scathing Book Reviews of Black Beauty, by Anna Sewell

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell is a classic that we’re all familiar with. OK, one that we’ve all heard of, anyway. No, its not the same as the movie The Black Stallion.

Imagine a Charles Dickens novel. Now insert a big Black Horse into the role usually played by a little boy.

Yes, THAT book. It’s a favorite of years past, and still appreciated by many, but unfortunately, these Scathing Book Reviews of Black Beauty think its all horse dung:

If somebody can tell me why this book is considered a classic I would love to know! The only thing it has that good novels have is pages!

…and:

This book is just plain boring… Black Beauty is just a little goodie-two-shoes.

…and this from a reader who asked around:

I have consulted several others and we all agree on one point: its a total waste of money, time, and effort. This book somehow managed to become a classic, proboble just because it has to do with horses.

..and some friendly advice from a student to the teachers of the world:

I dont know why this book is a classic. Trust me, it deserves a 1. For all those teachers out there, DONT BUY BLACK BEAUTY!!!