If I have learned one thing in these past few years of writing/reviewing, it is this: The reading experience is completely subjective. Of course, we’ve always known that some people like romance novels, while others read sci-fi. But even within a genre such as mysteries, the opinions about a single novel vary greatly. As proof, year after year, the 4 Mystery Addicts listserv asks everyone to send in their top 10 reads of the year and their bottom 10 reads. Inevitably, several books repeatedly make both lists.
This year, 17 books made a least one top and bottom list. Here’s the five most loved/hated mystery books (according to 4MA), with the first number in parenthesis representing how many top 10 lists it made, and the second number representing the bottom 10 lists:
- The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson (20, 3)
- Blue Heaven, C.J. Box (7, 2)
- Diamond Dove, Adrian Hyland (5, 1)
- Child 44, Tom Rob Smith, Tom (5, 1)
- The Various Haunts of Men, Susan Hill (4, 2)
Another mystery listserv, Dorothy L, also asks for best reads of the year, and oddly enough there’s very little overlap in the two groups’ favorite books (with the exception of Blue Heaven and The Brass Verdict by Michael Connelly).
It’s also been interesting to observe reader discussion about Oprah’s recent pick, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski. Some readers rave about it; others find it completely unreadable. Stephen King’s Duma Key has generated even more conflicting reaction.
Why do some books make the lists for both best and worst of the year? You tell me.
What were your favorite books of last year? Your least favorite? Have you ever read a book and loved it, then read it later and hated it?