SparkNotes Blog

Great American Novels, Ranked by How Much We Hate Them

I try not to hate things. It distracts me from emotions I feel more strongly about, like the unbridled joy I feel whenever there are new episodes of Bob’s Burgers on Hulu, and also the contempt I feel for people who do not watch Bob’s Burgers. Sometimes I even have feelings unrelated to Bob’s Burgers. Hate isn’t usually one of them. But for “Great” American Novels, I am willing to make an exception.

Let me preface this by saying that the following books aren’t BAD, necessarily. Some of them are even pretty good! However, they are not supposed to be “pretty good”; they are supposed to be GREAT. As a result, I kind of hate them. They got my hopes up, and they let me down.

“Writing books is hard, Elodie,” I can already hear you saying. “I don’t see YOU writing the Great American Novel.” And you’re right! I’ve never written anything except this dumb, thoughtless list ranking books written by people who are much smarter than me, based on arbitrary criteria such as “too many commas” and “just didn’t like the vibe.” Maybe one day I’ll do something more with my life. Something great. In the meantime, here are some of literature’s so-called “Great” American Novels, ranked by how much I hate them personally.