Wonderful question for all of us readers. What makes a book terrible – What’s your take?

101 Books

“It’s Not You. It’s Me.”

Have you ever felt that way about a book?

You know, the old clichéd way that the girl always breaks up with the boy, like George got the news broken to him in that one episode of Seinfeld. A short monologue is accompanied by a kiss on the cheek, and off she goes into the sunset.

When it comes to reading, though, have you ever felt like that? You appreciate the book. You think you understand why other people like it. But it’s just not for you.

If so, where do you draw the line? How can you tell if something is genuinely a piece of crap, and the people who like it must be border-line illiterate, or whether it’s just not your proverbial cup of tea?

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6 thoughts on “

  1. That’s an intriguing question! And I don’t know how to answer it! I’ve been a voracious reader my whole life, and I can’t think of a book I didn’t eventually like! Some do start slow, but I aways hang in there and by the end I’ve been won over. I sometimes put books down for awhile and assume that maybe “we” aren’t a good match right then. I read multiple books at one time, so I put them down and pick them up with my moods, and to make it even more of a sure thing…I choose wisely in the first place:-) Debra

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    • Hi Debra! Wonderful to have you come by and comment! I think you’re right about moods. I am often reading multiple books as well, and certainly some moods suit some books better. Also, at various times and places in our lives we are seeking different things from the stories. The “good match” theory makes sense 🙂 I do think you may pick the best books for you – maybe you focus more in the buying, that also says a lot about how and why we read. Wonderful!

      Thanks again for coming by…hope to hear more from you soon! ~~ Blessings

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  2. I am currently trawling through the book Room by Emma Donoghue, and though I can appreciate why it has been lauded by critics and readers, I’m just finding it hard going. I am persevering, yet the characters are just not there in my mind, unlike when I read On Chesil Beach which had a slow start but got more satisfying as you went on. Perhaps it is cliche’s but I also think it is strength of character. Room feels like a short story drawn into a novel. It is all personal opinion though, what works for me does not necessarily work for others; the same rule applies to rejection letters, if only we writers could remember that!!

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    • Thanks for reading and commenting, Zac!! Great to have you visit! I should preface by saying that I’ve not read either book you mention. However, I understand that our personal (and sometimes momentary) tastes and moods filter into our reading habits.

      I can understand about the short story drawn into a novel aspect – have read several books like that. They were okay, but over-reaching, as if not knowing themselves and not fitting their own skin. In the more compact mode of short story, or maybe even shorter novella, they would have been bold and poignant. The “stretching” somehow giving them a mediocre affect that loses the “strong punch.”

      I used the term “terrible” above and yet think that may be too strong a word. Maybe, as you bring up in your comment, it truly is just personal opinion – a book and it’s characters have to speak to us from a place we can somehow grasp and understand. If that doesn’t happen it’s like looking at an abstract painting and trying to see a Norman Rockwell picture in it. Ideally, the writer will provide the details and explanations we need to clearly see and feel the story. Still, it’s hard to tell whether it’s the writer or the reader unable to bridge that gap in the end.

      As always, wonderful to hear from you! Please come back and visit again soon! ~Blessings

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  3. I would imagine that most movie producers and most publishinghouse editors still look for stories that startup with premises that are unresolved, and that most of the filmgoers & readers are lead to need it all to not only be resolved, but that imaginative Hopes
    are satisfied. This is formula, and those guys need it from their writers so that filmgoers & readers all tell their friends, so that the money will roll in. I hate predictable crap/ It’s kinda nice to NOT to be able to predict, the story, the spoken lines even. Jeez when IT ALL
    is a cliche’..my friends and family don’t look forward to me going on about what They enjoyed.I say take a chance, surprise me. happy endings don’t always have to be happy
    like , um, real life already.In my writing when I catch myself starting a cliche’ phrase or even two words that always go together, I’ll mess it up.”Just like that” (or just like this

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    • Thanks for your thoughts and comments. I agree that many of the traditional movie producers/pub houses are looking for formula – and I’m not opposed to the “sappy, girl-movie” here and there. It’ difficult to tell what is a turn-off in a book sometimes…I can stand slow movement, narrow characters if the story is good; and also in reverse, slow or boring story if the characters are strong.

      A good example of story based on or secondary to character is the book, The Red Garden, by Alice Hoffman. I just finished it and loved the uncommon approach (she says, trying not to spoil it for those yet to read it! LOL) and the focus on Characters, with story being almost secondary. It was a wonderful and uncommon book to read.

      And yet, as noted in the original article, there are some books that gain critical success, but leave me empty. It is somehow difficult to attach to story, character, or plot (or all). This is rare for me, but it does happen. The book, The Witch of Portobello, by Paul Coelho is a perfect example here. I just couldn’t “get into” this book and never did read the last 1/3rd of it. Now, I love Paul’s blog and his twitter feed -just couldn’t get in touch with the characters/story of the book.

      Again, loved your insight. Thanks again for stopping by – please don’t be a stranger! ~Blessings

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