The worst book ever written

The worst book ever written is so very bad that there are warnings on Amazon to not even glance at the cover in case it infects you with its badness. Those warnings are true!

Holly Black LOVES this unspeakably bad book. So much so that she has many copies of it. So much so that she made us all read chapters out loud on the DragonTrain, which made us all laugh so hard we wept. I threw up I was laughing so hard.

The book is THAT bad.

Remember I was rambling recently about how you can’t include all details when you write? This book attempts to do that. It takes a kajillion chapters for the protag to cross a steet. All conversations are replicated in their full tedious detail—including repetitions and broken sentences and ums and ahs. And this tediously described every second of the protag’s day is interspersed with some of the most horrifically bad sex scenes ever written.

This book takes some of my favourite things in the world and renders them boring.

It is a jewel of bad writing. All you have to do is read it and then never ever write sentences remotely like it and you will have learned to write well. I would recommend it to all of you except that the writer’s rabid fans would hunt me down and kill me.

I can say this it is not a YA book. And I take back every word I have ever said about certain YA books. They are works of genius in comparison. I can safely say that no YA publisher would ever dream of publishing such dreck and if they did there’s no way it would make all the bestseller lists. Teenagers are WAY more discerning than that.


  1. lili on #

    oh! oh! it must be the bryce courtenay book i’m rather unwillingly reading at the moment! i’m SURE that’s the worst book ever written.

  2. Heather Harper on #

    If you can’t/won’t post the title, can you at least email it to me? Have to know which book it is now.

  3. Melissa on #

    I am pretty sure that the worst book ever written is Return To the Secret Garden.

  4. Tim Walker on #

    Are we *supposed* to start guessing, or is this all just a big taunt? 🙂

    If you’re a Seinfeld fan, you could call this a “costanza” book, from the episode in which George Costanza suddenly starts having a great run of success when he does the exact opposite of what he would normally do.

  5. Justine on #

    Guess all you like. Until the author is dead and buried and their fans have moved on I will never tell.

    I’m sure there are many books that fit the bill. I’m curious to hear what yours are. It’s a special kind of badness that rewards being read aloud.

  6. jo whittemore on #

    What book? What book? I want to throw up from laughing, too!

  7. pixelfish on #

    It’s terribly cruel of you to taunt us with the prospect of laughing til bodily fluids eject themselves from us….but can you not share discreetly through email? I promise not to give you my firstborn…

  8. Justine on #

    Quit asking people! I’m not telling. This writer is known to hold grudges and has rabid vengeful fans. I am a coward.

    Maybe if I see you in real life I’ll whisper the name. But I’ll deny everything if I’m ever called on it.

  9. maureen on #

    I honestly cannot remember laughing that hard in a long time. And Justine really did throw up. The book is so mind-bogglingly bad . . . it sent my mind into spirals trying to figure out the circumstances under which it could *possibly* have been published. It provided us with HOURS of entertainment. Fortunately for everyone, there are PLENTY of copies of this wonderful book in the world! You may stumble on it yourself! It won’t be hard!

  10. Justine on #

    Thanks, Maureen! I can tell they didn’t believe me about the throwing up part.

  11. janet on #

    Nicholson Baker is alive, so I have no guesses.

  12. Justine on #

    Janet: Huh? The author of this book is also alive. Where’d you get the idea they were dead?

  13. janet on #

    Oops. Sorry, misread what your comment #5 above — specifically, missed the word “until.”

    So maybe it is Nicholson Baker?

  14. Sally Lou Liz on #

    wow, I am totally curious about this book. in my opinion, the worst book ever written was “the celestine prophecy” by james redfield. As a library assistant, i do get to read, and see, all kinds of books. this is killing me! i want to laugh so hard i barf too!! (ok maybe not barf, but you get what i mean…)

  15. cassie on #

    Maureen is right, you may at any moment unsuspectingly stumble on this book, only to have it blow up under you like a bomb of total, awe-inspiring badness.

  16. Laini Taylor on #

    I have to agree with sally lou liz that the Celestine Prophecy was pretty rotten. I wouldn’t have cared about it being rotten except that I worked in a bookstore while it was a bestseller and I had to hear people gush all over it. Same time period as the baffling popularity of Bridges of Madison County! I have to say that some of the Stephen-King-on-drugs books were pretty bad, but I suspect you’re talking about a whole other universe of bad. I am so curious!!

  17. Melissa on #

    I am predicting that it is an Anne Rice book, but really, people, you have not lived until you have been privy to a live reading from return to the secret garden. Bisexuality! Adultery! Everyone in love with everyone else! Yes, that’s what happened to Mary, Colin and Dickon when they grew up – just as Burnett planned.

  18. Sally Lou Liz on #

    i’ve been giving this some thought. cassie edwards!!! hahahahaha

  19. hipwritermama on #

    ooo…is there a way to do a search on amazon for books with warnings?

  20. Mary Dell on #

    “Banana Rose?”

  21. Stevo on #

    _icebones_ was the canonical example of this amongst a group of people I used to hang out with. They would mail it to each other, all over the world, to try and get rid of it. Every so often they would meet up, and someone would read a page or two, before trying to pass it off to someone else.

    It was probably one of the most well-travelled books on the planet.

  22. John H on #

    “The Fountainhead”?

  23. Justine on #

    John H: No way! The Fountainhead is campy fabulosity! How could you say such a thing?

  24. Sam Taylor on #

    I thought everyone knew that the worst book ever written was “The Eye of Argon”.

    Not really a novel in length, but people often credit it. (Per the house rules: the author, I believe, is dead.)

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