I've read these classics so you don't have to.
Here are my top overrated classics.
1. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
This book was just terrible, filled with a disjointed narrative that jumps back and forward in time at random, fictional stories within the story, flat characters and repetitive phases. It's a postmodern, metafiction novel — Vonnegut himself has claimed that his books
"...are essentially mosaics made up of a whole bunch of tiny little chips...and each chip is a joke."
If the author thinks the book is a joke, why should I read it?
2. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
The novel presents a future American society where books are outlawed and "firemen" burn any books that are found — there is also a robotic dog that chases people. That's really all you have to know. Compare this to similar books such as Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451 pales in comparison in terms of literary finesse, character development and the complexity of ideas. Sure, there were some GREAT ideas in the book, but they were about as subtle as a punch to the face. I felt no connection to the main character — he really wasn't a person, just a stand in for the author's ideals.
3. The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
Don't get me wrong; this book is good, but it's not great. Protagonist Holden walks around and complains about life — he's selfish and childish. With strange literary techniques, such as run-on sentences, and a sparse plot, The Catcher in the Rye is a disengaging read.
4. Everything by Charles Dickens
Dickens published his novels in serial form, and got paid per instalment; he had poor motivation to create a concise novel. Dickens' tales drag out and are unnecessarily verbose. Many of his characters are comically repulsive, containing little realism; he is praised for his caricatures but I think caricatures are easy writing. His heroes are idealised and many of his scenes are highly sentimental — so much so that Oscar Wilde described Dickens' writing as
5. A Passage to India by EM Forster
The only thing this book is good for is for high school literature teachers to inflict upon their students to study. Sure, there are great themes and metaphors within the test, sure, Forster's writing style is beautiful, sure it has some interesting things to say about colonialism. But there isn't much by way of characters or plot.
6. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
There are moments of brilliance in this book. There are literary techniques which Joyce tried which were new for the day and age. However, it is mostly filled with experimental, pretentious ramblings. It's the type of book people read to say that they've read it so their university literature lecturer stops looking down on them.