Sometimes, we just can’t get it.
A book can be the most beloved, critically-acclaimed darling, churning out sequels upon sequels, with a blockbuster film starring Timothee Chalamet and a video game adaptation and an HBO prequel series cooking on the back-burner—and we still won't see what everyone else loves about the story.
If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so is a good narrative. We polled our social media followers about which beloved books they just can't get into, and these 10 reads were the most-mentioned offenders. Our respondents didn't love these books. But maybe you will?
A Song of Ice and Fire Series
“The Game of Thrones books (I listened to two or three, but…)."
In the land of Westeros, the tyrannical Targaryen dynasty perished during a rebellion led by Lord Robert Baratheon, who claimed the throne for himself. 15 years later, at the tail-end of a nine-year-long summer, Robert dies in a suspicious hunting accident, kicking off a power struggle among the Seven Kingdoms.
Robert’s wife Queen Cersei schemes to keep her son Joffrey on the throne. Lord Ned Stark attempts to unseat Joffrey while protecting his children, and his bastard son Jon Snow has travelled north to fight the Others, an icy undead army who bring winter in their wake.
Across the sea, Daenerys Targaryen, daughter of the last mad Targaryen king, is married off to a powerful warlord by her brother. But she rises to power as an intelligent ruler in her own right, with the help of three dragons hatched in fire and blood.
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell
“I love fantasy and dark stuff and all that but i could not understand the fuss over this book.”
In this alternative history of 19th-century England, magic used to exist but appears to be dead until the emergence of two magicians changes everything. As the Napoleonic Wars rage across Europe, the reclusive Mr. Norrell reveals his powers and is forced into fame.
Soon, the daring young Jonathan Strange reveals he has magic as well, and Mr. Norrell takes him on as a student. The pair joins forces in the war against France, but Jonathan strains his relationship with Mr. Norrell as he becomes more and more tempted by the most dangerous forms of magic.
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
“The Lord of the Rings trilogy."
As Bilbo Baggins, a member of a magical race of people called “hobbits,” celebrates his eleventy-first birthday, he leaves a mysterious ring to his cousin Frodo. The powerful wizard Gandalf warns Frodo that this ring is the One Ring, created in an earlier age by the Dark Lord Sauron to rule over the men, dwarves, and elves of Middle-earth.
Frodo embarks on a perilous journey with his friend Samwise Gamgee to figure out how to destroy the ring before Sauron can reclaim it. Elves, dwarves, and more hobbits join Frodo on his journey, protecting him from evil orcs and demons. Together, they become the Fellowship of the Ring.
This epic high-fantasy series has set the scene for countless fantasy adventures to follow, from The Legend of Zelda to Minecraft. The Lord of the Rings, the completed trilogy published into one book, is one of the best-selling books ever written, with over 150 million copies sold.
RELATED: Lord of the Rings Characters, Ranked
“Couldn't get the hype no matter how I tried."
This novel adapts Greek myths from the point of view of Circe, the divine daughter of the titan Helios and naiad Perse. Circe believes herself to be unattractive and powerless, until she learns after heartbreak that she's a witch, capable of using magic from herbs and draughts.
Threatened by her magic, Zeus exiles her to an island, where Circe hones her witchcraft and interacts with many mythic figures as they journey on their own quests. Eventually, Circe's fate intertwines with events of The Odyssey.
The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant
“I think if they had condensed the whole Thomas Covenant story into one novel it wouldn't have been that bad, but dragging the story out simply diluted the good parts too much.”
Thomas Covenant, an up-and-coming writer, loses everything when he is diagnosed with leprosy. His wife leaves him, his community casts him out, and he loses all hope in salvaging his life—until one day he wakes up in “the Land.”
In this classic fantasy world, Covenant meets many humanoid creatures, including evil Cavewights, strange Giants, and men embroiled in wars to prevent a prophecy of doom. Covenant attempts to heal his leprosy and return home, assisting the fights for peace along the way.
Interestingly, our readers also nominated the Thomas Covenant saga as one of the best completed fantasy series out there.
“Station Eleven. Boring and oddly shallow.”
Child actor Kirsten Raymonde didn’t realize witnessing Arthur Leander’s performance in King Lear would kick off the apocalypse. Mid-scene, Arthur dies of a heart attack. A paparazzo-turned-EMT attempts to resuscitate the actor to no avail. The show releases to a world swept into a deadly flu epidemic. Within a matter of days, 80 percent of humanity is dead.
After the initial downfall, Kirsten aligns with the Traveling Symphony, a group of nomadic performers. Kirsten is still seeking information about the man she watched die, and toting a comic series called 'Dr. Eleven' that he gifted her in his final hours.
Meanwhile, the Traveling Symphony crosses paths with a dangerous religious fanatic, known only as “the prophet,” whose zealotry puts the troupe in unique danger.
If you're one of the many people who did love Station Eleven, here are seven similar books you're likely to fall in love with.
Harry Potter: The Complete Collection
With 500 million copies sold worldwide, the Harry Potter saga is the best-selling book series in history, translated into 80 different languages. The books were also adapted into a 25-billion-dollar film series by Warner Bros. Pictures, followed up by a play, another film series, and a fleet of blockbuster theme parks.
But just because the series has seen massive commercial success, doesn't mean it can win over everyone.
The Wise Man's Fear
At a reader's suggestion, we bring you this second book in the Kingkiller Chronicle series.
Kvothe, an infamous adventurer and gifted musician, has been recounting his life story to a scribe when we meet him in this sequel. Now recording his University years, Kvothe tells of an escalating rivalry with the school’s nobility, which ends up getting him kicked out.
Kvothe sets out on a quest to seek a new patron that has him instead uncovering assassination attempts, wooing brides, and even solving a mystery about his parents’ death.
The Three-Body Problem
"Interesting concept but boring as hell.”
During China’s cultural revolution, astrophysicist Ye Wenjie is imprisoned as a traitor and recruited by military physicists to aid a secret project. At first, Ye believes this project sends radio waves to damage spy satellites, but she soon learns the project’s true intentions. They are searching for alien life.
Ye reaches an alien civilization on the brink of destruction. One pacifist alien desperately attempts to stop all communications while the rest plan to invade Earth. Humans split into factions, some welcoming the alien takeover of a corrupt world, others seeking a mutually-beneficial solution.
In a distant future, a feudal interstellar society fights to control the planet Arrakis, known for its abundant “spice,” a drug that extends life and enhances psychic abilities. The House of Atreides inherits Arrakis and becomes the target of a murderous conspiracy.
Paul Atreides struggles to navigate interplanetary politics while his mother trains him in the ways of the Bene Gesserit, a political sect of women with spiritual motives. When his house is betrayed, Paul sets off on a journey to meet his destiny, aided and puzzled by prophetic dreams.
One of the most best-selling science fiction novels ever, Dune won the inaugural Nebula Award for Best Novel and the Hugo Award in 1966. It’s notoriously difficult to adapt to screen, yet producers have attempted it three times, with its 2021 iteration winning six Academy Awards.
And with the most votes to its name, this is also the book that our respondents were the most over.