professornana (professornana) wrote,

Question of the Day

When I logged into LiveJournal this morning, here was the question of the day:

How bad does a book have to be for you to stop reading, or do you always plow through no matter what? What are some examples of books you stopped reading, or forced yourself to keep reading until the end? What made these books so horrible?

For those of us who are readers, this seems a perfectly acceptable and interesting question, right? I wonder, though, how others outside of the lifelong reader club might view this same question. Do we differ in terms of our answers?

I used to be of the mind that I should "plow" (and sometimes plod) through the entire book, especially if the book were an award winner. Or if the book were written by one of my favorite authors or were recommended by a friend who shares my tastes in reading. Certainly if the book were assigned for a course, I felt the need to read from beginning to end (and I hope my students feel the same). As a member of a book committee, I took my role seriously. Generally, the committee established parameters for how much we should read before abandoning a book.

But if I were reading a book for "pleasure," I am not certain that I would plod or plow or continue. As a matter of fact, I have put books down after a few pages. Most of the time I come back and try again. Sometimes the book was just not right for me at the time. Sometimes I needed to see it with fresh eyes. And sometimes I put it down again. If you know anything about me, you know I talk about the right book at the right time for the right reader. Not all books are "right" for me.

But these books I abandon or put aside are not "horrible" books as the QOTD suggests. Horrible books are a whole different category. Horrible books do not win awards, are seldom submitted for awards, and are not recommended by my reading community unless they think I need a good laugh. AND you will never see me comment here or anywhere about horrible books. My response to reading something horrible is simply to acknowledge it and move on. I feel no need to show the world a bad book when there are too many good ones out there to read.

I will reveal, though, the answer to the question of what makes a book unworthy of sharing with other readers.

1. Trite language NOT used for effect of some kind.
2. Stilted dialogue, tortured conversations, slang used incorrectly.
3. Predictable plot, red herrings that are more pinkish, unbelievably sudden turn of events to bring the story to a "happily ever after" ending.
4. Flat language (think basal talk).
5. Stereotyped characters, flat characters, unrealistic characters.
6. Retreads of other books.
7. Books left open at the end simply to serve for the sequel(s) to come.
8. Illustrations that do not match the text and vice versa.
9. Illustrations that do nothing to enhance the text.
10. Those almost indefinable things that make me fall out of the book.

I will add here, as I did in item #1, that sometimes things are used for effect (stereotypes might be archetypes; predictability for younger readers like rhyming text, etc.). But if you want to see me fall out of a story or a text, these are some of my issues.

What would you add?

I end this post thinking back on the books I brought with me to #ILA15 to read on the flights and in the between times. Not one of them was horrible. As a matter of fact, they were all incredible experiences for me. I am hoping the two put aside for the flight back to Texas today are equally un-horrible.
Tags: abandoning books, horrible books, reading
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