The Spite List 2021

I used to always do a yearly ‘spite list’ of the books I hated, but last year I moved to more of a ‘trends/stuff I hated in books’ list, not so much to avoid harshness as just because too many things were just a bit rubbish rather than worthy of proper vitriol. Also then people can just fill in whichever books they hated in that category too. I only count things I’ve actually read, so there’s no spite for the genres I’m not a fan of, or things too terrible for me to pick up. Anyway, the spite:

  • Disappointing / irredeemable / ‘offensive and not even doing it well’ horror – In the year I fully got back into horror books, I also read some duds. Usually it’s books that made some random bad choice (whether narrative/character wise or just like some really off dialogue) and then don’t make up for it or make it work. For one of these books I actually worked out a whole different plot line keeping the same premise that worked much better, though I’ve forgotten it now. But yeah. I want good ‘what the hell’ in horror, not bad ‘what the hell’.
  • Non-fiction that just drags and takes up way too many words to say anything – This is the year I finally actually read The Age of Surveillance Capitalism. I’m saying no more.
  • Poetry that just really didn’t click with me – I find it weirdly hard to review poetry beyond ‘I liked this one and this one’ or ‘their writing style really pleases my brain’, but sometimes I read a collection and I just don’t really enjoy any of it. So this award goes out to those books, one of which I gave away in a ‘if you don’t like it keep passing it on, as it did have good reviews’ way.
  • Books that seemed like they might be similar to The Secret History but weren’t – One of my greatest disappointments is when something seems like it might have a good ‘getting weirdly too deep into some kind of academic subject and then it gets weird’ vibe and then it turns out not to be like that. This one is really on me: I should stop assuming books will be like that.
  • Books mentioned in the same breath as Sally Rooney – I really liked Conversations with Friends, I thought Normal People was fine, I didn’t hate reading her new one, but I never have a good time with other hyped books that are mean to fit into a similar space as Sally Rooney. I just tend to find the protagonists frustrating and don’t really get their angst about that somewhat naff office job and complex relationship with an annoying man.

And finally, the real question: what book things I hate will 2022 bring?