Readers often form opinions about books and their authors before going into the book based on the blurb, cover design, or something they’ve heard. They have certain expectations they hope the book will meet. When they’re done reading, they either feel a sense of accomplishment or dissatisfaction. In an online forum, members discuss the books that have left negative impressions of the author in their minds. Here are 12 comments from some of them.
1. Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Aron Ralston’s memoir, Between a Rock and a Hard Place, about how he survived after being trapped in a canyon for six days while hiking, didn’t resonate well with some readers. One member on the platform complained that they found the author to be an entitled person who constantly put himself and others in danger for the sake of his adventures. Some other readers said they found him insufferable. “He seemed baffled,” one reader said, “when his buddies left and never spoke to him again after they almost died in an avalanche that was entirely avoidable.”
Takedown is about the true story of the capture of one of the world’s most wanted hackers, Kevin Mitnick, written by computer security expert Tsutomu Shimomura. The readers on the platform said they read the book over 20 years ago, but the author still stuck out as one of the most egotistical and narcissistic techbros they had ever met.
Hollywood actor Will Smith’s book, Will, is an autobiography about Smith’s journey from small beginnings to becoming a force in the American movie industry. It describes the achievements a person can make just by the force of their will. However, the style it is written in rubs some readers wrong. Some readers perceive him as an egotistical jerk who is full of himself. Slapping Chris Rock on the Oscars stage also added to readers’ distaste for him and his memoir.
4. Hillbilly Elegy
JD Vance’s memoir, Hillbilly Elegy, about the struggles of his family as part of working-class America, is supposed to be profound and moving. However, readers complained of his lack of empathy in handling the subject. His story of rags to riches doesn’t ring true, and readers point out its inauthenticity. A commenter said Vance never lived in Appalachia like he claimed and that most of the families he talked about came out to say he rarely visited.
5. The Fry Chronicles
Many people used to love Stephen Fry until they read his autobiography. Many still love him, but his book, The Fry Chronicles, changed their perception of him in many ways. He seemed to have been handed so much in life. But, according to a user, he never acknowledges any of that. “It’s not the fact that he’s had everything in his life handed to him on a silver platter; it’s that he doesn’t acknowledge it once.”
6. On Writing
Stephen King’s memoir On Writing chronicled his struggles through life as a young writer and his battles with alcoholism. The stories he tells have depth and are far-reaching. However, a user said that the descriptions of alcoholism put them off reading him for years because they were too young when they first read it. But now, after a long time, they get that the story was about addiction and recovery, and the credit he gave his wife made them respect him.
7. Naturally Tan
Tan France’s memoir Naturally Tan is described as funny, touching, and full of wit. The star of the Netflix smash hit Queer Eye told the story of his life in the book, narrating freely what it was like to be gay in a Muslim family. He also explored what it meant to be one of the few people of color in Doncaster, England. According to Tan, “The book is meant to spread joy.” But not everyone found much joy in it. On the forum, a user confesses that they loved Tan from Queer Eye, but in his memoir, he came across to them as flaky and entitled.
Drew Barrymore’s memoir Wildflower didn’t hit all the right notes for some of her fans. A user on the platform said most of it was boring and wasn’t cohesive because it jumped around to places that never connected. For an opposite experience, the user recommended Viola Davis’ memoir Finding Me and Jennette McCurdy’s I’m Glad My Mom Died.
9. We Were Dreamers
A user aired their opinion about Simu Liu’s autobiography We Were Dreamers, saying, “In every chapter, he reminded the reader that he was in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. He never really blamed his faults on himself but rather his upbringing/situation.”
10. Yes Please
American actress and comedian Amy Poehler didn’t accomplish what she set out to do when she published her memoir, and readers weren’t shy about airing their reservations on the forum. One left this comment: “Terribly written, nothing much to say. Gushes about Louis CK.”
11. Brunette Ambition
Some have said Lea Michele’s Brunette Ambition, published in 2014 by Random House, was superficial. They say it was like her character from the show Glee wrote it because the book gave the same shallow and brash vibes as the character.
12. Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing: A Memoir
A part of Matthew Perry’s memoir that sticks out, as commenters on the forum note, is when he asked why Keanu Reeves was still alive when more “deserving” people like River Phoenix and Heath Ledger were dead. They say it depicted Perry as a jerk. There were many other problems with the book, but Perry coming out later to say that he didn’t know Keanu Reeves was that well-liked and just wanted to pick a random person certainly didn’t help matters.
Note: Matthew Perry said he would removed these comments, calling them “stupid and mean,” from future books published. Sadly, Matthew Perry died on October 28, 2023.
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