Bad Books

I fully intended to write about a really bad book last night, but I opted instead for a dinner of risotto with asparagus and edamame  while watching an episode of Doc Martin (I love BBC television). Then I decided to start a new book, which, in the first 20 pages, was better than the whole of the last book I read.

Now, let me be clear. When I say bad book I mean a book that held no pleasure for me while I read it. I clarify because there are a lot of people who think bad books are books that no one should be allowed to read for various reasons. I am a librarian. I oppose censorship in all its forms. I find the banning of books misguided and silly. If you don’t like the content of a book, don’t read it. If you don’t think children should read it, don’t let your children read it. Let the parents across the street make that decision for themselves. Make an informed decision for yourself and your children. Leave schools, libraries and governments out of it. While I will never recommend the bad book I recently read, Fingersmith by Sarah Waters, and will actively tell people it isn’t worth their time, everyone is free to read it.

That was a bit rant-like, wasn’t it? Anyway. Fingersmith. The plot was slow and had no momentum. The plot twists were unbelievable and did nothing to move the story along. And then there was the love story. I can’t quite figure why these two characters had to fall in love with one another. It didn’t ring true at all. The book jacket quotes were certainly over enthusiastic. I knew 50 pages in I wasn’t going to like the book. But I had to finish it. I had to know the fate of the characters and where the author would take the story. I dislike this characteristic in myself. I could have read something far more enjoyable had I been able to put it down and walk away from it. And when I did finish it, I was irritated. I walked around the kitchen opening cupboards and drawers and sighing and harumphing and making a lot of noise.

And then I felt silly. It was just a book. But then I thought about how bad of a book it was and got upset again. I finished it three days ago and am still peeved and annoyed. I’ve read boring books and dry books and books you’re supposed to love and don’t (ahem, Madame Bovary) and books with wonderful stories and characters that weren’t written as well as they could have been. They’ve never bothered me like this, though. I know, its just a book. Really. So how would you react?

3 thoughts on “Bad Books

  1. Well, I like to know how books end too–even if they are bad. The only reason I’ll stop reading is if it has material that I object to. So I probably would have finished the book too. After reading a bad book, you just have to read something really good to get the bad taste out of your mouth so to speak. I have never read the book that you mentioned, but I will be sure to stay away from it. I do respect your view on censorship, but I don’t agree completely. Parents are definitely responsible for what their kids read.
    Thanks for your post!
    Carli (

    • Hi Carli. Thanks for reading! I just finished an excellent book that totally removed the bad taste left in my mouth from the bad book. Check out ‘State of Wonder’ by Anne Patchett if you’re looking for a book that will totally absorb you. I finished it last night and woke up dreaming about the jungle this morning.

  2. In the past five years or I have decided that if I don’t like a book after reading 1/4 of it, that I am not finishing. There are far too many other things to read. It has felt SO freeing! And to be honest I think there have maybe only been two books I didn’t finish. But knowing that I *can* stop makes me happy.

    I really loved Ann Patchett’s Truth & Beauty but haven’t read any others. I’ll have to check this one out!

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