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books-1015594_1920When you’re an English major, sometimes you don’t have too much control on what you have to read. There will be times when you’re absolutely enthusiastic about what you have read, and other times… not so much. Here is my top 7 (because this is thealleycat7) list of worst books I had to read for university.

  1. Moby Dick – Herman Melville

moby_dick_final_chaseImagine having to read The Scarlet Letter, Little Women, Good Wives, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, The Life of Frederick Douglas, Iola Leroy, Huckleberry Finn, The Red Badge of Courage, and Moby Dick all in one semester, which is approximately four months (and this is just ONE class). It is overwhelming, believe me. When I got to Moby Dick, I had a hard time getting into it. This dense whale-of-a-book isn’t the most engaging text – well, it depends on who you talk to. There were only a select few in my class who actually enjoyed Moby Dick. Although I do appreciate the amount of symbolism and metaphors in the text, it is just too dull for me to finish it any time soon.

  1. The Mountain and the Valley – Ernest Buckler

maple-801800_1280I had read this book for a course on Maritime literature. The Maritimes are a group of three Canadian provinces on the Eastern coast of Canada (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island). I had really wanted to take this class because I am from the Maritimes. To my surprise, the only book I had heard of before taking the course was Anne of Green Gables. The other six books on the reading list were completely alien to me. Unfortunately, I ended up really disliking The Mountain and the Valley. The writing was just over the top with its amount of descriptions. There is a passage in the book which describes the greenery in the Annapolis valley, Nova Scotia (where the book takes place). At some point, the narrator uses “green-green” to describe the greenery because there were no more ways to describe the greenness of the greenery.

  1. Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad

african-22250_1920Fun fact: I had to read this book twice for two different classes. I am a little on the fence with this one. It is not a terrible book in any shape or form. The problem was more me than the book. I found the style of writing exhausting and dragging. I appreciate the text for giving an early perspective into the damage brought by colonialism, but it is just too dense to actually say that I enjoyed reading it.

  1. Ulysses – James Joyce

UlyssesCoverI had spent an entire month reading and studying Ulysses. I am conflicted to put this book on the list of the worst books I had to read, because it is not a terrible book. It frustrated me to death, absolutely. However, I really enjoyed studying it in class. If I had to read this book on my own without any sort of direction, I would have given up after one page. After reading Ulysses, I feel as if I can read anything. If you have read Ulysses, you’ll know what I am talking about. If someone were to ask me “what is Ulysses about?” I would have a really hard time answering them. I would say “it’s about the day in the life – well, not quite.” The best answer I can give is that it is an experimental novel which provokes many questions pertaining to the modern era.  The story is mostly told through the perspective of an ordinary man called Leopold Bloom who is supposed to represent a modern-day Odysseus figure (hence the title Ulysses). Each section of the book echoes parts of the Odyssey. Does that make sense? I didn’t really expect it to.

  1. The Road – Cormac McCarthy

The-roadAgain, this book isn’t terrible. I personally didn’t care for it because it is extremely bleak and depressing. I don’t tend to enjoy stories about surviving in harsh conditions. We all have our favorite genres, right? For those who enjoy post-apocalyptic survival stories, this book would be very enjoyable to read. For me, not so much. {see my review of The Road}

  1. The Princess and the Goblin – George MacDonald

princess_and_the_goblinI was so excited to enroll in a children’s literature course online. In fact, I was ecstatic. I had already read every book on my reading list (which included Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone!) except for The Princess and the Goblin. I found the book very dull. Perhaps young children would enjoy it. There is a princess, there are goblins, and a weird grandmother who lives in an attic.

  1. 7. Le Zebre (The Zebra) – Alexandre Jardin

I had to read this book for one of my French classezebra-927272_1920s. Le Zebre is about an eccentric man who wants to bring back the spark of passion in his marriage. His methods to make his wife fall in love with him are really really strange. Most parts of the book feel as if I had already seen this before (like in some sort of cheesy romance movie). Let’s just say, as far as romance novels go… I’ve read better.


So, this is my list of the worst books I had to read for university. If you enjoyed reading this list, check out my top 7 best books I’ve read for university list.


Until Next Time,