Cracked offers up 6 hated great novels

I love Cracked. It’s a superb website for shit like this. Me being such a book nerd, of course I have to go through this list myself. These are all classic books that were not well received when first published.

Critical reaction to Brave New World was “largely chilly,” which is the short way of saying that it did to the literary world what Willy Wonka’s boat ride did to your childhood.

It’s a fantastic book, if you haven’t gotten around to reading it yet. It basically centers on a world (ours eventualy? possibly?) where everyone’s slapped into roles in society and have long since quit questioning their places and duties. Everyone’s dosed on soma every day, the feel good drug of choice. They’re so used to their way of life but a new person who’s been on the outside of this whole culture comes in and is quite perplexed by it. There’s a good rundown of the complexities of this book at

The Grapes of Wrath received less than a warm welcome when it was released.

Since “Fuck the Poor” had pretty much been America’s policy all the way from the Gilded Age to the Roaring Twenties, Steinbeck’s devastating depictions of American poverty, plight and migrant camps came off as “depressing” to most readers, and by depressing we mean part of a communist/socialist conspiracy.

The Grapes of Wrath was denounced as a “pack of lies” and “a libel” from both the left and right wing of the political spectrum. The book was censored, banned and even burned in towns across the United States including Steinbeck’s own hometown.

I’ve been meaning to read this one, although I suspect I’d wind up watching the film version instead, just to save myself some time. SparkNotes offers up some commentary about the nature of the story in terms of themes worth noting – including the fact that people are often what make life worse for people, not monetary problems or weather patterns.

William Golding’s brilliant work of social commentary and symbolism was a complete commercial failure when it was released, but the truth is Golding was lucky that the book even made it that far. More than 20 publishers passed on the Lord of the Flies, no doubt due to the “excessive violence and bad language” Golding smacked his audience with like a blackjack upside the head.

The book sold less than 3,000 copies before going out of print in the 50s.

Fortunately, interest in the book increased later. I’m trying to recall if I read the book at some point or not. I’m sure I must have. I know I missed reading it in high school (and counted my lucky stars at the time, too) but it’s a book filled with themes and motivations that certainly interest me now from a literary perspective. Novelguide offers up the explanation Golding gave critics for why he wrote the book in the first place – to remind people that a political system will only be as good as the people who run it. It will always be limited by what a person is willing or able to bring to it.

The Catcher In The Rye was written in the “vulgar” tongue, which was common vernacular for the time. However, since the vulgar tongue does tend to involve lots of curse words and pussy jokes, the book kind of took a wrecking-ball to the social norms of Greatest Generation, and thus cemented the book’s reputation as one of the most infamous works of the 20th century.

I finally read this one just to find out what the fuss was about. Turned out to be a whole lotta nuthin’ — at least compared to the behaviours and attitudes of teenagers now. The anti-hero aspects of Holden Caufield must have been horrible to contemplate when the book was new. Hell, it still bothers people and often winds up on banned book lists all over the place. I just hope a film version (finally possible now that Salinger has passed on) does not actually include Justin Bieber.

Contemporary reviews for Moby-Dick were harsh. Very, very harsh. Think Son of the Mask meets Battlefield Earth.

I’ve seen neither of those films, nor have I read this book. I seem to recall wanting to try the film version with Patrick Stewart in the lead role but I think something got in the way of actually doing that. Apathy, probably. I see the whole of the book is available to read at though. I have no good excuses.

According to the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia, “No ‘mainstream critic’ appreciated The Lord of the Rings.”

The reasons for Tolkien’s negative feedback were numerous, not the least of them being that he was a career linguist, not a professional writer. The New York Times described Tolkien’s writing as “high-minded” and “death to literature itself.”

It sure took me a while to try tackling them. The Hobbit I devoured somewhere around grade 8 or 9 I think, but I kept getting bogged down by all those poems in the first book of the trilogy. Before Peter Jackson’s first film of the series came out, I figured I should at least try to get through it. I was impressed by how much I did enjoy the story, actually. I cried heavily at least once (where the orcs capture poor Frodo, I think) and found myself lining up early with all the lifelong fans to see the films, which I did enjoy quite a bit. I wasn’t a big enough fan to really pick apart where things got rearranged or lost in the telling. It was a hard series to streamline anyway, I’m sure, so I think they did pretty well.

About 1minionsopinion

Canadian Atheist Basically ordinary Library employee Avid book lover Ditto for movies Wanna-be writer Procrastinator
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9 Responses to Cracked offers up 6 hated great novels

  1. tmso says:

    Oh, all wonderful books (LOTR ROCKS!!!!!). I’ve read all of ’em except Brave New World. Makes me wonder what treasures are hidden away from us now as most publishers yank books from the shelves as soon as they figure out it’s not making money. Sad, because I’m sure there are a lot of good books out there. Sad, too, there is so little time to read them all.

  2. 1minionsopinion says:

    Isn’t that what Oprah’s for? Or her staff that picks those books for her? I personally can’t stand the idea that one celebrity has so much power over people to influence their book choices to such an extent. There’s no reason why The Secret should be such a massive best seller, or Eckhart Tolle or whatever.

    I wonder how much we lose by publishers self-censoring. If a lot of them decide not to run a great manuscript out of fear of repercussions, that’s going to be making a difference too, yeah?

    I think part of the problem also comes in when writers like James Patterson or Danielle Steel are given scads of money to churn out new books every couple months, rather than letting more new writers have a chance.

    And part of me wonders just how bad some manuscripts must be to justify the publishing of some of the crap that does get bought by my library…

  3. George W. says:

    I like to ask my friends “what’s the best book you have ever read?” or “what is the best book no-one knows about?” to get my reading lists.
    I’ve found some really great books this way.
    Popular literature is a hit or miss proposition. Quite often the book that made an author popular is great, but the follow-ups are lacking.

  4. 1minionsopinion says:

    That’s just it. And my tastes tend to go toward the less popular, or at least differently popular bits of fiction. As far as Terry Pratchett goes, I think THUD! winds up being the best of the bunch for me, even though I own and have read all of them often. I just thought that one was an amazing piece of work. It’s better than a lot of books I’ve read. I’d also claim a couple Star Trek TOS books would count as literature, given their overall quality of storytelling, too.

  5. George W. says:

    P.S.- Mine is Burning Ground by Pearl Luke.

  6. tmso says:

    Edwidge Danticat – she’s pretty famous already, but I just love her stories.

  7. tmso says:

    Oh! I’ll have to check out Pearl Luke – thanks!

  8. George W. says:

    Someones Akismet filter just got by-passed….

  9. 1minionsopinion says:

    I get a lot of suggestions to check out Carrie Prejean for some reason. Funny why some spam gets caught and other bits get through.

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