Unlike my favorite book choice, which was hard to narrow down from a pretty good list, least favorite book is difficult for the lack of material to choose from. Honestly, if a book is not going well in the first fifty pages, I tend to put it down. More often than not, I also read the very end right away to make sure the journey is worth completing. Because of this, I rarely get to the end of a book and say, “That was really bad.”
There were a handful of required reading books that rank low on my list, like Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. Had a hard time reading it in high school and again in college, despite how short it is. There’s just something about a story with only two characters (one of which is a fish) that doesn’t especially appeal to me. But the English teacher in me simply cannot give the least-favorite award to a classic.
Apologies to the millions of people who loved Twilight, but it is on the very bottom of my good reads list. I realize it is a risky move to announce that the first book of one of the most popular series of this generation ranks as my number one least favorite book. I don’t need to reiterate that I’m not especially big on pop-culture hype. I had low expectations for The DaVinci Code (rightfully so) and even less enthusiasm for The Purpose Driven Life. However, like Oprah’s Book Club, even though I might not jump on the bandwagon just because everyone else is doing it, I’m also not afraid to praise something that is actually getting more people to read.
When it began circulating among my high school students (many who had admitted to never reading an entire book on their own before my class) I was genuinely curious. When the number of boys reading it increased, so did my interest. Then I began noticing how often groups of adults were meeting in the cafe of Barnes and Noble to discuss it, and thought, “I should probably read this book.” Still, I put it off.
The moment finally came, early one Silent Reading Friday morning, when a boyfriend-girlfriend couple in my 10th grade Honors English class were having an argument (she loved them, he hated them). The boy finally looked at me and said, “Mrs. Wait, will you just read the books so I can settle my point and win?”
So I did. It took me 105 minutes that Friday in class to get more than halfway through the first book, and I was convinced of exactly why these books were so popular and exactly why I subsequently could not join the fanatics.
In these books, Stephenie Meyer perfectly captures the hormonally charged melodrama of teenage angst. I sort of felt like I was reading the diary of a really insecure 15 year old girl. It wasn’t the vampire thing that bothered me. In fact, I saw it as the plausible ploy of a Mormon writer to maintain her convictions about sex before marriage without alienating her audience. Genius, really.
I didn’t hate the plot line either. I only made it through the first three and a half books of the series before I finally gave up (and was told later that the 4th book was the one that makes it all “worth it”) and though a little slow, I didn’t find the story itself to be terribly boring or unoriginal or anything like that.
I just hated Bella and Edward.
She was by far the most annoying book character I’ve ever encountered, and ironically, the actress who plays her in the movies was perfect and equally annoying to me. I fell asleep in the first movie and haven’t even seen any of the others. Edward, on the other hand, was just too unrealistic. I get it that he’s a vampire who is mentally and emotionally centuries old, but is physically trapped in the body of the sexiest age of a man. But of course, for most teenage girls (and apparently many grown women), this phenomenon didn’t exactly translate. Far too many readers got the idea in their minds that this is the man they want to marry. I hate to burst your bubbles ladies, but this kind of man does not exist in real life. There is no such thing as a teenage boy with Edward’s sense of self-control, wisdom, unconditional love and devotion, and commitment to fidelity through marriage, when his hot teenage girlfriend is literally throwing herself on top of him. And, when a man is actually old enough to possess such wisdom and self-control (which is typically gained through past experience, by the way), his body is more than likely no longer that of a sprightly young and perfectly chiseled 18 year old.
And don’t get me started on the love triangle.
In short: we watch Bella have her cake, eat it too, then complain about it until she gets to have seconds, thirds, options for other desserts, and someone feeding them all to her on a silver spoon.
I cannot believe these books made grown adult women swoon.