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 Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Slaughterhouse Five, by Kurt Vonnegut is a book that I read by choice, and after I read it, I had two reactions.  The first was “huh?” and the second was, “I’m only 18.  I guess I’m not mature enough to appreciate it.  Well, I reread it recently, and while my first reaction was still “huh”, my second reaction was instead “The sixties were as weird as they say they were.”  While you’ve got to love a book with any character named “Montana Wildhack”, how they adapted this into a Slaughterhouse Five Movieis beyond me, but any movie with Valerie Perrine in it (Miss Tessmacher!!!!!) is worth a look.

Look, Kurt Vonnegutseemed like a really sweet guy when he was alive, and how can you not appreciate an author who cameoed as himself in the Rodney Dangerfield movie Back to School?  However, as much as I appreciate the art and creativity that went into Slaughterhouse Five, I can’t appreciate it as a “good read”.  

Leave out the stuff about the aliens and stick to Dresden and the POW stuff and I can hang with it, but Billy Pilgrim as a middle-aged guy having a nervous breakdown and maybe or maybe not being sent to a different world as the male pair of humans on exhibit at an Alien Zoo?  As they say in Mandarin – “Ay yuh!”  In Yiddish that would be “Oy Vey”.  In the “Dark Hunter” series “Holy Guacamole!” and where I come from “You gotta’ be sh*tting me”.

Here are some Scathing Book Reviews of Slaughterhouse Five that indicate the real slaughter was of Vonnegut’s reputation:

It is a novel that is ripe for discussion in a high school or college lit class that will excite the professor and utterly confuse and bore the student.

…and:

…With all due respects to the author, this is the WORST book I have ever read in my life. It is disjointed and hops all over the place. There’s no continuity at all. The prose is terrible. The back cover says it is funny without laughing, splendid art, a book without tears. Wrong! I am actually crying: that I paid so much money for this. I gritted my teeth to finish reading this book.

…and:

I finally got around to reading it recently. It is appalling that this is considered a classic and that it is studied as an example of American literature. I am especially amazed that this book is studied in English courses across America. Message to students: Question the judgment of any teacher who presents this as an example of anything other than worthless …that should have never been published.

…and:

Slaughterhouse-Five is one of those rare sorts of books whose total lack of any merit whatsoever is inexplicable in the face of its generally agreed upon status as a world classic. Had this fatalistic, dewy-eyed tripe not been written during the escalation of ‘Nam and the sudden moral ambiguity pervading American letters at the time, it would, honestly, never have made it close. This is sad. The literati have doubtless showered numerous accolades at its feet, though what, for instance, is there to celebrate in this pure dreck?

 

…and:

I’d like to tell anyone who thought it was overly strange and disjointed, I agree! So it goes… some enjoy classics like this, some do not. My english teacher told me I took it too seriously. All I have to say to him is, “Po-tee-weet!”

…and:

I might have liked it better in college when being cynical and blase was cool.

…and this review, which seem familiar from other reviews of “classics”:

I prefer Daniele Steele, and there’s no basis for telling me I’m wrong. Vonnegut is no better or worse than Daniele Steele!

…and, finally the true explanation Slaughterhouse Five’s unique style:

I’m a freshman in high school, and I was relieved when my English G/T (Lyceum) teacher confirmed my suspiciouns that Kurt Vonnegut was, in fact, high.

Scathing Book Reviews of the Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien is many things to many people. To some, a fun fantasy. To others, the cornerstone of their reading list. To an unfortunate few, a way of life, and to Peter Jackson, an admirable achievement and cash cow.

I read the Lord of the Rings for the first time back about 1982, and my first thought was “Wow, this is amazingly similar to The Sword of Shannara!”. After I got a bit older I realized it was actually vice-versa. I’ve probably read it about 2 times since, once after the Peter Jackson Film came out.

Do I like it? Sure, but as I’ve matured, I’ve begun to look at it the way I do “Star Wars” – good, but embarrassing to think I once valued it so highly.  After all, in the end its just a fairy tale. These Scathing Book Reviews of the Lord of the Rings don’t “boo” it, but they’re like Gollum in that they give it a “Hisssssssss….“:

I could barely make it through the first novel. I found myself having to force my way through a sea of overwrought description. Tolkien’s writing style, if one can call it a style, is dull and overly wordy. His characters are flat, especially his female characters, who all just seem to be waiting by the sidelines for the men to come home. I couldn’t bring myself to care about any of them…

…and this from a reviewer that is, shall we say, a bit too well informed about Fantasy novels:

I cannot believe all the hype this series gets, it is a boring, stereotypical fantasy that leaves all its wizards being REALLY old farts with long white beards, diminutive characters in more way then one (Yes, I know that this was a really bad pun)I have never disliked a fantasy other then this one, and I have read more then enough to make this claim (well over 300 books of this genre in the last 5 or so years).

…and:

i cried because i spent seventy dollars for this “classic” edition hearing how good this piece of crap was, so i was like, “hey, why not???” i struggled through the hobbit and the fellowship of the ring before i cried. another reason i cried was reason i cried was because THEY SUCKED!!!!!!!!!! i have read the sword of shannara by terry brooks and even though it followed the same plot, it was a billion times better than this piece of b.s.! I mean, what’s up with those defunktitated songs?!

…and:

This book is not good, it is a neverending story to me. THe beginning was so sucky and did not make you want to read at all. I read Fellowship of the ring. I got to this council part, and i felt like I had had anough. I was like 200 pages through the book and all I had read was how the Hobbit walked through the jungle, and how good hid breakfest.

…and a negative comparison to the “prestigious” Dungeons and Dragons novels:

This book have no depth and noone can compare these with DragonLance ChronicLes or Dark ELf series.

…and:

Scathing Book Reviews of Jonathan Livingston Seagull, by Richard Bach

Jonathan Livingston Seagull, by Richard Bach is like Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, a book that is emblematic of the 1970s, but is still read today. Its one of those books that I’ve heard of but never read, and like many who lived in Chicago in the 80s and 90s, was continually reminded of due to the presence of Rich Melman’s restaurant “Jonathan Livingston Seafood“. There was also the Jonathan Livingston Seagull Movie which I came across on Cable some years ago.

I remember seeing an English Major reading the Book back in College, and its apparently assigned reading for Junior and Senior High Schoolers. If I ever do read it, hopefully it will answer the burning question “Why do Seagulls like Parking Lots?” These Scathing Book Reviews of Jonathan Livingston Seagull think that the Seagull is really a Dead Duck:

For a long time I had suspected that America was a nation full of pathetic people desperately striving to improve their lives. This so-called book has confirmed my suspicions.

…and:

This book is a piece of trash. I feel that nothing other than such a blunt remark justifies my feelings towards this mish-mash of bogey, high-faultin’ pretention and early 70s self-help gibberish. Clearly, this tripe hooked on to the swinging trend of cascading times when mid-life crisis was hitting people from 16 to 76.

…and:

I found myself laughing out loud on numerous occasions over the course of the book… Not because the author wrote something witty or clever – but because the book continued to reach new levels of stupidity.

…and:

To pad out this lame storyline, Bach gives us a bunch of grainy pictures of birds. Too bad he doesn’t have the guts to show us birds pooping on a statue, having found TRUE enlightenment.

…and:

The only good thing you can say about this book is that it is short, so it doesn’t waste as much time as it might.

…and:

In the miasma that was the 70’s lies this book, an embarassing reminder of the culture of self-actualization that permeated that era. Deep messages? Please… After being asked to write a paper on the meaning of the “Stairway to Heaven” lyric(!), having to read this book was the last straw for our 11th grade Language Arts class.

…and:

This is a simple story. So simple in fact that you wonder why the writer got paid for it.

…and:

A friend loaned me this book once when I was going through a very rough time in my life. Somehow, the book made me feel worse, so you may wish to hold off giving a copy to someone diagnosed with depression.

…and this review, excerpted at length. I’ll lay odds he’s an Ayn Rand enthusiast:

This slimy collection of self-important piety and nonsensical bilge is one of the most horrific encapsulations of what is rotten and bad in western society today. In it, a sentient air-rat decides he’s much too important to deal with small minded concerns ke making a seagull’s living eating fish. He decides he’s some kind of artist. He meets an asian air-rat who is of course much more wise and deep than his own whitebread air-rat self, and becomes some sort of super spiritual air-rat. Not content to jockey around the entire universe like some kind of air-rat version of Padre de Pio, he returns to earth to lord it over the other air rats with his superior spiritual pose.

Scathing Book Reviews of The Odyssey, by Homer

The Odyssey was written by Homer. If you say that to anyone born after 1980, they’ll immediately imagine Homer Simpson in a Toga, or Ulysses fleeing from the Cyclops, tripping and saying “D’oh!”. Now before you dismay over the decline of Western Civilization, remember that from 1900 to 1988, when someone said “Homer”, the average person’s first thought was Baseball.

That said, have I ever actually read “The Odyssey”? Bits and pieces of it in other works, but never the whole thing all the way through, and I’ll wager that most people haven’t. Watching that Armand Assante Odyssey TV Miniseries doesn’t count, folks. These Scathing Book Reviews of The Odyssey try to persuade you that it’s not a trip worth taking:

This book sucks. I dont care if Homer was blind or not this book is like 900 pages too long. I could tell this story in about 10 pages. Homer taking all long to say stupid stuff. Teens if you are reading this all I have to say is CLIFF NOTES CLIFF NOTES you will pass the test, unless you are in AP classes. The teachers expect kids to read cliff notes trust me my moms a teacher. P.S this book SUCKS

…and:

Although it may seem intriguing, this book can drive one to the brink of insanity.

…and:

It was tedious, boring, and extremely conceited.

…and:

I couldn’t even get past the first ten pages with any comprehension of what this was about. I reread lines half a dozen times with no idea of what Fagles [the translator] was talking about. What the heck is “hearth smoke”? What person alive says “that nonsense coming past your teeth”?

…and:

The general plot is rather repetitive. Odysseus overcomes a challenge on an island, and while leaving via boat, a storm takes him to yet another island, where the process is repeated. This makes the story predictable and less interesting.

…and:

I pity all of those souls who have to endure reading this utter rubbish. Every time I attempt to read it, it puts my wee self to sleep. This book is so boring, and I can not fathom how people (even though if they are pretentious secondary school teachers or literature lecturers)can still find this enjoyable.

…and:

If you’re going to read either The Iliad or The Odyssey, and you’re not a 2700 year-old Greek or Trojan, buy a Cliff Notes to help fill you in.

…and this Book Review that faults Homer for a lack of originality:

I feel like I heard this story many times before. Not cutting edge. Lots of interesting characters though. Unreallistic platitudes as they relate to the human condition. Homer has a lot of growing up to do.

…and this great review by a Freshman in High School:

I thought this story was very gross. I mean come on. We are having to read this book in freshman English. Actually our teacher reads it to us, but it is still disgusting. We are also having to watch the movie of this, talk about gruesome. It’s like Scylla comes out of the water and chomps these people out of the ship and blood showers everywhere. I almost threw up every day when we watch this movie. We watch a little each day. I am over there about to puke up my toes and everybody else, all the boys anyway, are saying how cool it is. My boyfriend just laughs when I tell him I almost threw up in there, he is a freshman, so he has to watch it also. I’m sure he thinks it is awesome,but I don’t.

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”…