Famous Brits pick their most-hated books

This list of most-reviled books is from 2003, but nevertheless entertains.

JG Ballard: Author 

Finnegans Wake by James Joyce

Joyce's incomprehensible novel, which has provided a living for generations of English Literature professors, represents a lamentable tendency in 20th-century fiction: the quest for total obscurity. Finnegans Wake is the best example of modernism disappearing up its own fundament.


Jonathan Meades: Author and broadcaster

The Harry Potter books by JK Rowling

"I think they are absolute shit, just terrible, worse than Enid Blyton. I have discouraged my children from reading them. They are not particularly badly written ­ I don't mind bad writing ­ it's the smugness and the complicity with the reader that I dislike. It's like they're written by a focus group. JK Rowling is the sub-literary analogue of Tony Blair."


Dr Jonathan Miller: Director, author and broadcaster

Anything by Jacques Derrida

"When I plunge into the murky depths of Derrida I feel I am drowning ­ I can deal with difficult topics, but Derrida fails to make them interesting, as his writing is completely impenetrable. He purports to be philosophical, but in fact he's perversely obscure."


Sir John Mortimer: Author and creator of Rumpole

The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien

"Anything about Gandalf, and those little things with hair between their toes. I hate that sort of portentous, phoney, medieval-magical way of writing."


Ken Russell: Film director

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

"It has a huge reputation as a masterpiece, but I found it to be a fascist tirade about how wonderful American tycoons are in business. Still, it is very cleverly written."

What is your most-hated book? Mine's a toss-up between Ender's Game and The Secret History.