Classic Novels I Secretly Hated

Let’s preface this by saying that everyone’s tastes are different! I’m not saying these books are objectively bad, just that I personally hated reading them. I should also mention that there are affiliate links to Amazon in this post, meaning if you buy one of the books, I may earn a minuscule commission.


‘Frankenstein’ by Mary Shelley

I feel bad including this because I love the story behind the book. If you’re not familiar, it all began on a dark and stormy night with a competition over who could write the scariest story. No one believed Mary Shelley, a mere woman, could write something so powerful.

Here’s the thing, though. This book just…drags on…and on…and on…I remember zoning out for a full five minutes, and when I returned, she was still going on about what some mountain looked like.

Read Instead: Dracula by Bram Stoker

Dracula and Frankenstein are often thought of together, but I found Dracula to be a much better read. It’s still over 100 years old, so go into it knowing it’s going to be slower than what you’re used to. It got a little repetitive near the end (lots of blood-sucking, and we all know who’s behind it), but I was unable to stop turning the page.

‘Jane Eyre’ by Charlotte Bronte

This book was all over the place. Is it a love story? Is it a tragedy? And how many times can you say WTF? That’s probably why people call it a “gothic romance,” but the genre-blending just didn’t do it for me.

Read Instead: Wings of the Falcon by Barbara Michaels – OR – Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Both Wings of the Falcon and Northanger Abbey slightly mock the gothic/romance genre, but end up doing it better than the originals.

‘The Pearl’ by John Steinbeck

I barely remember what this was about; I just remember thinking it was absolutely terrible when I read it in school. I might have been biased, since I didn’t much care for my English teacher that year, but I’ll include it because over a decade later, I still remember how much I disliked it.

Read Instead: Not a clue

‘Slaughterhouse-Five’ by Kurt Vonnegut

This book was regarded with near reverence in my school. I didn’t get it.

Read Instead: The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

Honestly, I didn’t really like The Things They Carried either. But they both have to do with the Vietnam War, and both have the “kind of true but not always” voice.

‘The Metamorphosis’ by Franz Kafka

Depressing and weird.

Read Instead: Ovid’s Metamorphoses

Ovid’s Metamorphoses is basically a giant “history” of the world through the eyes of an ancient Roman. It includes countless myths, and the title is a nod to the many forms Zeus, and countless others, took during their romantic entanglements.

I know it might be a little tawdry, but I’d rather read about Zeus dropping into Danae’s prison in the form of golden coins, or Daphne turning into a tree, than some poor fool waking up as a cockroach and eventually killing himself (a.k.a. Kafka’s Metamorphosis).


Did I Miss Any?

Are there any classic novels you secretly hated? Or do you disagree with my analysis of the books above? Let me know in the comments!