The Worst Books of 2022

For my own sake, I tend to not finish books I’m not enjoying. Life is too short for bad books, but as I was working on a particular reading challenge (which I’ll discuss later on), there were some lousy books that I didn’t finish, simply because they were part of said challenge and I didn’t want to have to hunt down another book for a particular entry, or because it was a short book I’d purchased, and I was being stubborn about finishing it.

I only have four books that I finished that I low-key loathed and rated two stars or lower. In order from least-bad to the worst, here we go.

4. She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan

This is about a young woman in historical China who, as a child, goes to a fortune teller with her older brother. The brother is told he will become a figure who will never be forgotten, while the girl is told she’ll be utterly forgotten. As events unfold for the little family, the brother dies, and so the girl takes his name and sets out to take his destiny, too.

This was an interesting idea, but I hated the prose. Parker-Chan is a lawyer, and her writing reflects that. It’s dry and so many descriptive words had no business describing the things they were connected to. Just because you know the word ‘mandibular’ doesn’t mean you should use it. Also, the main character, Zhu, just happens to stumble into all the solutions to her problems which makes her seem like she has no real agency. There was a flock of other perspectives, too, and I didn’t care about a single one of them. I will not be continuing this series.

3. Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts by Christopher de Hamel

I bought this expecting an insightful book detailing some of the most famous manuscripts of medieval Europe. What I got was a little bit of detail about said manuscripts and a lot of de Hamel complaining about archiving practices in the libraries and museums he went to, about having to wear gloves to handle the manuscripts, about restaurants in the cities he visited, and about the parking situation at the Getty Museum in California. I wanted to read about manuscripts, not about de Hamel’s complaints.

Also, he mocked The Book of Kells. Don’t mock The Book of Kells. That’s a good way to earn my ire.

2. Cabo de Gata by Eugen Ruge

This book is about a man who, bored with his life in Germany, moves to a small Spanish fishing village without doing any research about it. He expected a warm Mediterranean paradise and got a cold, windy, and unhappy new home instead. He goes for walks. The locals don’t like him, and he doesn’t like them very much either. The beach is dirty. His only friend is a cat.

That’s it. That’s the book. It was boring, and I got tired of the narrator complaining about the town he hadn’t bothered to look into before he spent all his money to move there. I only finished this book because it was short.

  1. Breach of Peace (The Lawful Times #1) by Daniel B. Greene

I read this book for a challenge. If it hadn’t taken a while for me to find a book of its type that I thought I could get through, I would have DNF’d it within the first few pages. The writing is bad, the forensic details were bad, the investigative procedures were bad, the characters were bad, you get the picture. This is a fantasy novel that’s based on a variety of time periods that have guns and cigarettes, but also seems like it wants to have a medieval feeling to it. The main character’s name is Khlid (she’s a woman. Did Greene not say this name aloud and wonder if it sounded a bit like a part of the female body?) while the male characters have names like Sam or Chapman. Plot elements came out of left field, the world-building was haphazard at best, and I recall face-palming every other page because the thing was so ridiculous.

Suffice it to say that I do not recommend Breach of Peace, and will not be reading anything else by Daniel B. Greene. I don’t recommend his BookTube channel, either.

So these were the worst books I read in 2022. I’m rather pleased with the fact that there are only four, as it shows that I’m getting better at not finishing the books I’m unhappy with, whether they’re ARCs or not. I’ll continue to usually DNF the books I don’t like/hate in 2023, because I want to read books that make me happy, and not books I want to throw at the wall.

20 thoughts on “The Worst Books of 2022

  1. Don’t you hate DNF books. I have a shelf in Goodreads for these. “She Who Became the Sun” is on my BTR list, I’ll have to think long and hard before I pick it up and then it will be a library book.

  2. You surprised me with She Who Became the Sun. I haven’t read it, but I’ve gotten so used to it being praised that I was surprised to find it on your list.
    I follow Daniel on YouTube (haven’t read his book and don’t intend to) but prefer his earlier videos, or the ones before his style changed.

  3. Here’s to the power of the almighty DNF! I agree, life’s too short to waste time on books we don’t enjoy. Of all of these, I’d only heard of the first… and it does not sound like something I’d enjoy. Onward to better books in 2023! 🙂

  4. I entirely agree. It’s nice to be given a review copy of something but an e-book sent to a kindle is probably worth a few pence to a publisher so it hardly constitutes adequate payment for the work of reviewing.

  5. I cringed when I read this: Parker-Chan is a lawyer, and her writing reflects that. 🙂

    As I think we talked about after your review of it, I had similar expectations for Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts so I was disappointed to see how much you disliked it since it’s sitting on my shelf waiting for me to try it. One day I will try it, but I’m not getting my hopes up.

    Your description of Cabo de Gata reminds me of how I felt about a movie based on a book based on reality. I don’t recall the name, but it was about a privileged guy who was unhappy with his parents and college so he just up and leaves and makes his way across the country and up to Alaska where he eventually dies in an old bus. He appeared to do absolutely no research before making his way into the Alaskan bush alone, and yet he was a well educated person who had plenty of resources. I think it’s sad it led to his death and wouldn’t wish that on him, but at the same time I had no sympathy for him. Mine was an unpopular opinion, though, as most folks I’ve talked to really enjoyed the story.

  6. Sometimes I think of the exchange as “I don’t need to buy this book now unless I love it”, but if it’s a bad book it’s really not worth my time or the pennies the publisher spent on the digital copy they passed along.

  7. I’ve already DNF’d one book I wasn’t enjoying this year. It wasn’t a bad book by any means, but I just wasn’t in the mood for it. Hopefully the rest of the year will be filled with great books for both of us!

  8. I don’t get the universal praise for She Who Became the Sun. It makes me wonder if we read the same book…..

    I used to follow Daniel, and ultimately got tired of the endless “Jordan and Sanderson and King are the best authors in the history of ever” shtick, so I quit watching. How did his style change? It’s been a few years since I watched his videos.

  9. Bad writing is one of the things that makes me DNF something, and I figure that if the writing is straight-up bad in the beginning when the author is desperately trying to get my attention, it’s not going to get any better as I go.

    I hate it when a book is all downhill at the end.

  10. The prose in She Who Became the Sun was so dry and matter-of-fact! I was so disappointed by it…

    Give Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts a try anyway, and maybe skip the bits where he talks about his journey to the museums and whatnot. I don’t know if he was trying to be funny in those bits or what, but it was not funny. But the photos were beautiful, at least.

    I think you’re talking about Into the Wild? I haven’t read it or watched the movie, and I don’t think I will. Watching (figuratively or literally) a guy fail to understand his surroundings so badly that he dies is not my cup of tea. Sure, I’ll read a survival story about mountaineers on Everest, but they were generally prepared and end up in circumstances wildly outside the norm…

  11. This was awful. It started out as a decent cozy mystery crossed with psych drama and then it was like the author took the easy way out

  12. The content has changed a lot because I preferred the book reviews and discussions, which seemed thoughtful, but there are way less of those now. And I’m not a fan of the gimmicky stuff, but lots of folks like it.

  13. She Who Became the Sun was a book where I enjoyed the beginning and then once she (don’t remember the name) when to the monastery, it went downhill from there. All the positive review make me wonder if we read the same book. Though I abandoned it. How can anyone say anything bad about the Book of Kells? That book was on my list. Now it is not. Did the cat play a big part in that book about Spain? And as for the last book. No thanks. I used to be a huge Sanderson fan and I have to write a couple of reviews soon about why I am grumpy at him. Sad but true!
    x The Captain

  14. Yeah, I don’t understand the appeal of She Who Became the Sun. We must have read different books… The cat played a very small role in the book about the German guy moving to Spain. I don’t know why the book was named after cats. They were hardly in it.

    I don’t blame you for falling out of love with Sanderson. I enjoyed his books once upon a time and now, I don’t.

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