The Most Disappointing Books of 2020

On Tuesday, I did a list of my favorite books of 2020. Today, I’m doing a list of my most disappointing books of 2020. None of these were actually published in 2020, but I read all of them this year. I’m going to limit this to just five, like Tuesday’s list, so that it doesn’t become overwhelming. (But if we don’t get to five, that’s okay, too!)

The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman

The Number One most disappointing book on my reading list this year was actually the last book that I read, The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman. It fell prey to that horrible “third book syndrome” that afflicts so many trilogies with solid first books and middling second books, where the third book is just a disappointment all the way around. You can expect my review for this book to come in mid-January (I’m backed up on reviews, isn’t that a good thing?) but the short version is that Pullman takes everything that was good about the first book (including the character of Lyra) and completely obliterates it in the third one. It was incredibly disappointing, and I guess I know why I haven’t heard much about this series since it was published. I’ve even went and actively looked for things about it since I’ve finished it, but it just doesn’t seem to be talked about as much as other series.

Dawn by Elie Wiesel

Dawn, by Elie Wiesel. I went through a whole spiel yesterday about how I never finished Day by the same author because I just couldn’t get into it. “Enjoyed” is not the right word to use when discussing Holocaust literature, but I was glued to Night from the very first page. It’s the whole reason I bought Dawn and Day, but unfortunately they do not hold my attention like Night did. Maybe some day I’ll get around to finishing these, but for now I think they’re just going to live on the shame-shelf of my bookshelf, unless I take them to my mom’s library and put them in the donation bin myself. I understand why people are saying that this is a classic, and I’ve seen some things online where people have said this should be required reading for everyone, but it’s not what I was looking for.

Wow, No Thank You. by Samantha Irby

Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby sounded so promising, and I was looking forward to it very much. It was the third Fantastic Stranglings Book Club book I received (for April), and I was hoping it was going to be just as funny and interesting as Jenny Lawson’s books (Let’s Pretend This Never Happened and Furiously Happy). Unfortunately, it was not to be. While I’m sure there are some people who enjoy this style of humor, the constant self-deprecating grated on my nerves and I just wanted to reach through the book and grab Samantha Irby and tell her that it’s all going to be okay, that she doesn’t need to think these things about herself, and that it wouldn’t kill her to write something positive for a change. This book is also living on my shame-shelf, and I’m hoping to hand it off to a friend once friendship becomes legal again.

I’m looking back through my GoodReads list from 2020, searching to see if I had any more books on the list, but I think, out of the 51 books that I read these year, these three were the only duds for me. There were some that I didn’t necessarily enjoy, but I didn’t think they were bad or even the slightest bit disappointing. They Did Bad Things, for example, was pretty much an updated version of And Then There Were None, but that was okay. It wasn’t meant to be a masterpiece. And I’m sure there are some people out here that will be disappointed in me that I didn’t like these three books.

And I’m here to tell you that that’s okay. There’s a reason there are so many different genres of books, and there’s a reason everyone loves something different. What I like you may not like, and what you like I may not like. (I may give you a bit of side-eye with some of them, though…just kidding.)

Now, go and enjoy the last day of 2020, and have a happy and safe New Year’s Eve!

And as always, keep reading.

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