Book Recommendation · Bookish List

Why You Should Read These 15 Books I Didn’t Love

Hi everyone, it’s Sabrina!  A little while ago I watched Chanelle’s video titled “Books I Did Not Like and Why I Think You Should Read Them” and I loved it.  I thought it was such a great concept, because I believe, as I’m sure a lot of you do, not every book is going to work for everyone but every book will work for someone.  

Despite that belief, I can’t for the life of me think of any good enough reasons that people would enjoy most of the books I’ve rated two stars or less, so my post today is going to be a bit different.  I’ve picked fifteen books that I rated (approximately) three stars, meaning that they are books that I actually liked, but simply didn’t fall in love with for one reason or another.  I’m going to tell you what those reasons were (none of which are criticisms, just a matter of taste) and then tell you some of the positives so that I can hopefully convince you to try out some of these books!

*I haven’t told you much about the plot of these books, but as usual, you can click on their covers to be taken to their Goodreads pages.

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

Why I Didn’t Fall In Love:  Quite honestly, this was too long and sad for me.  Despite how magical this book was, it felt like a story of the loss of that magic, and that’s never my preference in a story.  Though I connected to a couple of characters, there were a lot more that I never grew to care for.
Why You Might As previously mentioned, this is a very magical story – with another story (or two?  I can’t remember) within it!  The writing is quite pretty and there are some interesting character dynamics.


The Library At Mount Char by Scott Hawkins

Why I Didn’t Fall In Love:  Some of the humour and violence really put me off.  It was less dark, edgy and gritty and more gross, immature and horrifying to me.
Why You Might:  This book includes some big ideas and has an equally big payoff at the end.  The main character is interesting, if not likeable, and some scenes are both unexpected and unique.


The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo

Why I Didn’t Fall In Love:  It’s often in the nature of a novella to move fast and not spend enough time on the characters for me to connect with them, and that’s sadly what happened here.  I also struggled occasionally to understand what was going on and had to reread sections.
Why You Might:  This was a fairytale-like story that could be quite emotional at times.  It also has a strong focus on rebellion and feminism.


Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

Why I Didn’t Fall In Love:  The story ended up being more about politics than aliens, which was always going to disappoint me.  And though the format was interesting, I think it would have worked just as well if not better in regular prose.
Why You Might:  If you are fascinated by books written in different formats, this is one you should really give a go.  The political dynamics included in the story are interesting too, just be prepared for them to overshadow the incredible discovery of ancient artefacts.


Get A Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert

Why I Didn’t Fall In Love:  Unfortunately, I was not a fan of the pacing in this book and I never connected with the writing style either.
Why You Might:  The progression of the romance in this book was believable and the two main characters were so loveable.  There was also discussion and representation of both mental and physical health issues that didn’t shy away from anything.


Magic For Liars by Sarah Gailey

Why I Didn’t Fall In Love:  I think, again, I was expecting this to be something different to what it was.  I wanted more magic.  Plus, though the main character in this book is an adult, the story featured a lot of teen drama, which is not what I was looking for at the time.
Why You Might:  If the thought of a mystery thriller set at a high school for magical people interests you, this is definitely worth a try.  I also found this to be quite a slow paced, reflective sort of book that thoroughly explores the mindset of the main character, which might interest you too.


The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James

Why I Didn’t Fall In Love:  There is an abrupt genre twist at a certain point in the book, and while I did enjoy that, I wish the tone and pacing had been more comparable between the two different parts of the story.
Why You Might:  Similarly to Magic For Liars, this book is a mystery/thriller in an atypical setting, but it disguises itself as more of a contemporary romance in the beginning, so if you enjoy both of those genres, this would be a good read for you.  The main character loves writing fanfiction and that is included in the story as well!


The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss

Why I Didn’t Fall In Love:  I got the sense while I was reading this that it was targeted toward a younger audience than me and the plot was quite drawn out, with lots of tangents.
Why You Might:  If any sort of found family intrigues you, then this would be a great book to pick up.  The friendships that form between the daughters of classic literary monsters are wonderful to read about.


City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty

Why I Didn’t Fall In Love:  The pacing in this one did nothing for me.  Actually, it bothered me a lot, so that is something.
Why You Might:  If you love books that focus on long journeys, this is the one for you.  The characters are all quite compelling and figuring out the politics of this world over the course of the book was also interesting.


Circe by Madeline Miller

Why I Didn’t Fall In Love:  I think long epics that span a lifetime (or more) are just not my cup of tea.  I’ve suspected this for a little while, and the fact that I can’t really think of any other solid reasons why I didn’t love this book is more evidence to that.
Why You Might:  Of course, if you love long epics that span a lifetime or more, you are more likely to fall in love with this book.  I’d also suggest it if you are into Greek mythology, obviously!  It was nice to find out more about this less-popular character.


Middlegame by Seanan McGuire

Why I Didn’t Fall In Love:  The magic system in this book just made no sense to me.  There was no consistency or explanation, in my opinion.  This really bothered me because it permeates the whole story.  It was like asking “why?” as a kid and having your parent respond “just because”.  Also, the book was really long and confusing and the payoff at the end wasn’t good enough for me.
Why You Might:  The two main characters are fantastic and their relationship is super unique.  It was exciting to see their journeys together.  All the elements to do with alchemy were fascinating too.


Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski

Why I Didn’t Fall In Love:  I didn’t like any of the characters and there were certain recurring sorts of chapters in the book that I found entirely pointless, boring and confusing.  I also struggled to keep track of the timeline as it jumped around quite a bit.
Why You Might:  This book is told mostly in podcast format, so if you are a fan of true crime podcasts, this would probably be right up your alley!  What I loved most about this book though was the imagery.  The setting was described so well and I was intrigued by the urban legends included.


All The Bad Apples by Moira Fowley-Doyle

Why I Didn’t Fall In Love:  There was one predictable twist and one that seemed, frankly, ridiculous.  I also wished there was a little more atmosphere from the setting and think I would have enjoyed it a bit more if I was younger.  There wasn’t much subtlety in the writing and certain phrases (“bad apples” specifically) felt boring and overused fast.
Why You Might:  This is a very harrowing and emotional read that has a large focus on the historical suffering of both women and LGBT+ people, but it also includes a lot of joy and hope.  The author’s note is an important read for the context surrounding this book, and I think the author did achieve her goals with this story.


Everything Leads To You by Nina LaCour

Why I Didn’t Fall In Love:  I feel so bad saying this, because I truly did love the main character in some ways, but she also irritated me so often with her choices.  I found her to be too idealistic and quite pushy.  Realistic, definitely, but not to my taste.  In saying that, sometimes I didn’t find the plot very realistic and some things were much too convenient.
Why You Might:  I know I have talked about this book a few times before, because I was so fascinated by elements of it – especially the main character’s job as a set designer/decorator for movies, which lead to a pretty unique day-to-day life.  If that interests you, this would be a great read!


The Fifth Room by Allison Rushby

Why I Didn’t Fall In Love:  The second half of the book had some pacing issues in my eyes.  Also, I didn’t like only getting to know most of the characters through the main character’s perspective.  The ending also disappointed me a bit.
Why You Might:  This story is full of secrecy and intrigue plus many morally grey characters.  The pacing in the first half is impeccable too.


What do you think?

Have you read any of these books? Are you planning to? Are there any books you didn’t love that you think other people might adore? Let me know!

36 thoughts on “Why You Should Read These 15 Books I Didn’t Love

  1. I certainly love the concept of this too!

    I have a few of thoses on my virtual wanna read; Get a life chloe brown, everything leads to you, and the starless sea… though now you say starless sea have multiple stories within in, im not sure id be able to read it eier… (Night circus gave me such a struggle.. I needed to dnf midway).

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  2. I really like this post idea and I love the way you set it out as I think you get the idea what didn’t work for you but why it might be for someone else. I loved The Starless Sea but I can totally see how it isn’t for everyone, and I rated the night circus 3 stars because it didn’t particularly work for me so I can see how Erin’s writing does that for some people.
    I actually love books that span a lifetime so I think that works for me as I enjoyed Circe. You have also definitely encouraged me to check out The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter and Sleeping Giants as they have things which I think might appeal to me.
    I REALLY loved reading this post !! 💕

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    1. Thanks Sophie!!
      It’s so strange to hear that, because I loved The Night Circus and gave it 5 stars, but the Starless Sea only 3 – so, basically, the opposite of you!
      I hope you get to read The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter and Sleeping Giants – and that you love them more than me! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I understand how you feel about Middlegame, though I rated it 5 stars. I adored Roger and Dodger and their connection, and found the alchemic stuff thrilling, but I have to admit I was a bit confused about the twins being able to reshape the world. Then again, it’s a different book with awesome, 3d characters linked in a super-unique way, and McGuire knows how to write – so it struck all the chords with me.

    Also, this is a neat post idea!

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  4. this is such an interesting post, i loved reading it!! 💖 the starless sea and circe has been on my TBR for a really long time oops, i should probably read them soon. and i feel the same about everything leads to you HAHA, the concept was interesting but it fell flat for me

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  5. This is such a great post, Sabrina!! I definitely have 3-star books that I would recommend, as someone might like them more 😄I have Get a Life, Chloe Brown on my TBR, but I’m a bit nervous about it, as I didn’t like the author’s Christmas novella 😅 But maybe I’ll like a full-length novel better 🙏

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    1. Thanks Caro!!
      Ooh it will be interesting to see what you think of Get A Life, Chloe Brown considering that! If it helps, I really enjoyed one of the author’s other books – The Princess Trap – so I know some of her books will work better for me than others, and maybe that will be the case for you too!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I didn’t realize that you weren’t the biggest fan of Circe. That’s such a bummer 😦 I loved that novel, but I do think I preferred The Song of Achilles more.

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  7. I absolutely love your idea for this post. It just goes to show that someone else’s dislikes can be someone else’s loves. I really enjoyed all your reasonings behind each book.

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  8. This is a great idea for a post! I had the same reaction to The Starless Sea as you, but I can definitely see why it’s so beloved. And for Everything Leads To You: I enjoyed it for all the reasons you mentioned! I’m still hoping to read Middlegame at some point, so we’ll see how that goes.

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  9. this is such a creative and wonderful post!! i also have read many books that i’ve rated 2.5 to 3.5-stars, which means i didn’t enjoy it as much as i wanted to but can definitely see why others would. every time i write a review for a book that falls in between those star ratings (2.5-3.5), i always write a disclaimer that this is my personal opinion and list reasons why i would recommend it to others hehe, so i really do love this post ☺️ i’ve read The Loneliest Girl in the Universe and Circe and rated both of them 4 stars, bc they really resonated with me emotionally, but i can totally see why they weren’t your cup of tea. great post as always :))

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  10. sabrina!! this post was so interesting to read!! i think it really highlights the fact that even though i may have not liked the book – it had some really powerful themes and messages, which is why you might like it, and i encourage you to read it – which is so awesome!! would you mind if i did something similar to this? (giving you credit at the start of the post obviously)? i loved reading this!! 💖💖

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  11. Ah what a cool post idea, I love it so much and I love how you found lovely things to say every time even when the book wasn’t your cup of tea. I have Chloe Brown on my TBR and I am curious to see what I’ll think of it! 🙂

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