One-Minute Book Reviews

December 22, 2008

The Five Worst Books of 2008 – Entertainment Weekly’s Annual List

Filed under: News — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 7:16 pm
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Which authors deserve a lump of coal in their stockings this year? Tina Jordan and Kate Ward of Entertainment Weekly have compiled the magazine’s annual list of the five worst books of the year, and the winners are:

1. Chasing Harry Winston by Lauren Weisberger: “There’s something to disappoint everyone” in this novel by the author of The Devil Wears Prada, the EW critic Jennifer Reese wrote when she reviewed the book in May. “Those who prefer to dismiss the author as a backstabbing ditz without a shred of talent will be sorry to hear her third book isn’t entirely unamusing … But anyone looking forward to a dishy beach read à la The Devil Wears Prada will be even sorrier to hear that the fluffy fun bits are lost in a blobby mess of a narrative.”

2. The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry. Barry spent $50,000 to self-publish this novel about a woman who returns to her hometown of Salem, Masschusetts, and tells people’s fortunes through a piece of lace, but it didn’t bewitch the EW editors.

3. The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson. “This much-hyped book is eye-bulgingly atrocious, packed with medieval history to disguise prose that’s worse than your average Dungeons & Dragons blog,” Gregory Kirschling wrote in an EW review. “The unnamed narrator is a repugnant coke-addled porno actor … who, in the first scene, burns himself alive after driving off a bridge while high.”

4. Bright Shiny Morning by James Frey. What could Frey do for an encore after admitting that he made up parts of his memoir, A Million Little Pieces? Write “this slack, self-indulgent mess” of a novel, EW says. Frey did a lot of research for on LA for the book, and it shows, badly: “He produces lists of gang names, eight pages describing the city’s highways, five pages of natural disasters in its history, another five naming patients in VA hospitals, eight pages of ‘Fun Facts’ and ‘Facts Not So Fun.’ The lists go on. And on.”

5. A Wolf at the Table by Augusten Burroughs. “How many lurid memoirs can a writer get away with before we suspect he’s full of baloney?” EW‘s Reese asked in her review of this book by the author of Running With Scissors. She added: “In 2005, the family Burroughs lived with as a teenager sued him, alleging that he fabricated and sensationalized events in Scissors; last year, he settled for an undisclosed sum. There is no one to challenge his version of events in Wolf, as his father is dead … “

Read more about why the EW editors think you should avoid these books at,,20246889,00.html.

One-Minute Book Reviews will announce the winners of its annual Delete Key Awards for the year’s worst writing in books on March 15, 2009. Read about last year’s winners and find samples of their bad writing at (three posts on the same day for the winner, first runner-up and second runner-up, which you ‘ll see below the Daughter of York review when you click on that link). You can find earlier winners using the Search box to search for Delete Key (without quotes).

© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.


  1. Hmm, I’ve got an ARC of The Lace Reader in my TBR pile – now I want to read it just to find out the author turned it into a $2 million deal, if it’s so bad!

    Comment by speedytexaslibrarian — December 24, 2008 @ 9:44 am | Reply

    • Funny, people often say that about the Delete Key awards finalists, too. You almost have to read some books to believe they’re as bad as the critics insist.

      Comment by 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom — December 26, 2008 @ 12:14 pm | Reply

  2. […] Original post by Debbie Schlussel […]

    Pingback by Books reviews » Archive » The Five Worst Books of 2008 – Entertainment Weekly’s Annual… — December 26, 2008 @ 10:11 am | Reply

  3. I was surprised this morning to see that “January Magazine” included Frey’s book in its best-of-the-year list. Otherwise, I can’t really comment since I didn’t read or pay much attention to any of those on the list.

    Seeing this list, though, reduces any incentive I may have pulled together for considering them.


    Comment by knightofswords — December 28, 2008 @ 4:26 pm | Reply

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