Have You Ever Thrown a Book Across the Room?

Rachelle Gardner

Blogger: Rachelle Gardner

I’ve belonged to several book groups over the years, and recently one of my groups selected a book I knew nothing about. I began reading and quickly pegged it as a Really Bad Book.

Not that I’d tell anyone, of course. But I couldn’t stop thinking about how poorly the book was crafted, how I would have edited, how cheesy it was. Normally when I read for enjoyment, I’m fairly good at turning off my internal editor. But not this time.

Then I found out that Really Bad Book had been out for almost a decade, was a perennial strong seller, and had even been made into a movie (direct to DVD). Clearly others had a different opinion than I did.

frustratedWhat gives?

How can this happen? How can such a badly written book (in my opinion) go on to such success?

It happens all the time—there are lots of books that you or I would consider badly written but sell boatloads of copies and even become movies. I struggle with it, as I know many of you do. I drive myself crazy wondering why I can’t sell some of my clients’ fantastic books when that stuff is getting published.

Getting Perspective

But then I have to take a step back and remember why I’m in this business in the first place. I love books. I love writing and I love writers. It doesn’t mean I have to love every book specifically; but I love the fact that there are so many different people writing so many different books. It takes all kinds, right?

And besides, I’m just one person with an opinion. Who am I to judge? Some of the books I love would undoubtedly be called Really Bad by others.

I’m so glad I have the freedom to choose which kinds of books to read, which ones to represent…and which ones to pretend don’t exist!

As for the Really Bad Book Book That Did Not Appeal To Me, I tried to change my attitude and read it with as little judgment as possible, but I found it difficult. I couldn’t read more than a third of it. So for that particular book group meeting, I stayed unusually quiet, knowing if I opened my mouth I’d probably regret it.

How do you deal with the fact that there are so many books that you think are BAD?

Does it cause you any frustration? Resentment? What helps you put it all in perspective? (Please don’t name any books in the comments.)

143 Responses

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  1. Eva Ulian says:

    Badly written books sell because “someone” knows how to make money out of it. They are not selling writing but an idea,something which will appeal to human beings and if you put your bet on sex, violence and action- you can’t go far wrong today. Give them what they want- but who decides what they want? The man who knows how to make money does. Frustrated? Why should I be, no one today is precluded from being published and finding a readership- thumbs up for internet.

  2. Sue Harrison says:

    Frustrated? Yup.

    I wish that I always walked the high road, but sometimes, especially when I long for publication for one of my books, I get whiny. When I notice that friends and family have begun to avoid me, I ask the Lord to change my perspective and open my eyes to lesson I’m supposed to learn. Then I scrape the mud off my big girl shoes and head for that higher road, with my book bag on my back and a couple of truly wonderful novels snuggled inside, just waiting to be read!

  3. Nate says:

    Several feelings come as I’m reading a bad book. I wonder who published this book. I don’t want that publisher. I think “if this person can get published and if there are so many poorly written books out there, why is it so hard for me to get published?” I also think “I don’t have a lot of spare time, why did I waste my time reading this book?” If the book received an award or praise from some organization for being a good book I get ticked at those who led me to read the book. Mainly it is the awarded books that I wade through until the end. The whole time I wonder what made someone praise this book? I’ve thrown a few books.

  4. Suz says:

    I used to be frustrated, but just recently discovered that I can get a refund for ebooks in the first week if I don’t like it, so that definitely alleviates some of the frustration. However, when there are so many obvious problems with a story (swiss cheese plot, poor/flat characters, awful grammar, weak prose) in just the first 20 pages, I wonder how it POSSIBLY made it through multiple levels of a publishing house to even get the offer and then get through editing, and then actually published!?

  5. Marilyn says:

    I read one in which a woman is kissed at the end, and the man removes her bra without her knowledge. She doesn’t realize it’s gone until he is gone. I wanted to throw the book across the room.

  6. Frankly, I don’t get frustrated anymore. As you said, the publishing business is very subjective — books are published for all kinds of reasons. I actually get very inspired by “bad” books as much as I do by “good” books. There’s room out there for everyone.

  7. Sam Jolman says:

    Just finished a really bad book a few weeks ago. I agonized over it. It was full of great ideas (which is why I kept reeading) but presented them in terrible prose.

    CS Lewis says there are bad readers as well as bad books. And bad readers make bad books successful. its in his book on literary criticism called An Experiment In Criticism. I think he iOS on to something.

  8. Marilyn says:

    Oh, yeah. She still had on a shirt. I like believable books.

  9. Even with books I don’t like (and there are many,) I try to understand what the author was trying to do, or what audience the book is directed to. Writing any book is quite an accomplishment.

  10. “This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.” – Dorothy Parker

    Just had this happen. New “thriller.” Juvenile writing. Hardy Boys style (which is good for 8 year olds, but not for adults shelling out bucks for hardcovers). Abundant use of the F-bomb, sometimes one right after the other to show how frustrated the character is. Wow. Is that great writing or what?

    I did, literally, throw the book across the room.

    Good thing I got it from the library. And good thing I didn’t have to read past page 30. I used the time savings for NaNoWriMo.

    • Glad it wasn’t your book (one you owned, not one you wrote) that you threw, although I’m sorry for the library. That’s a major disadvantage of e-books, though. You only throw your Kindle across the room once before the light dawns.

    • Michelle Ule says:

      I’ve felt great satisfaction flinging them into the recycle bin, but you’re right, I have to be more careful with a library book.

      I also no longer feel obligated to finish a book once I’ve started.

      I’m also at the point of no longer downloading free books onto my Kindle. On a long flight once, I settled in, confident with six new books I’d have plenty to read.

      Read the first chapter of all six, calmly put away the Kindle and watched an awful movie instead.


    • I prefer the bow and arrow approach myself. Or skeet shooting.

    • The only time I laughed at the use of the F-bomb, one right after the other, was on Plains, Trains & Automobiles when Steve Martin spewed his frustration all over the counter. Otherwise, it’s one of the more tasteless words in the English language.

  11. jeffo says:

    I try not to let it frustrate me. At this point, if a book is really bad, I just don’t finish it anymore. The way I figure it, when I’m a successful, best-selling author (going for the positive here), someone is going to read my books and have the same reaction.

  12. Christine says:

    I have recently finished reading a string of poorly written, self published books. For the most part I pulled on my boots and trudged through anyway. I took mental notes on what not to do, what didn’t work for me, and what made it unbelievable.

    Then when I picked up a good book it seemed to shine even brighter. I was more aware of why it was good, why the author was able to make me feel a certain way, and why I believed the story.

    Many times I get lost in a good book and it’s over before I realized how the author got me from beginning to end. Reading the bad helped me to be critical with the good and learn more about the craft.

  13. Jill Kemerer says:

    Well, everyone here is a lot nicer than I am. I read two “books that didn’t appeal to me” this week alone, and I’m not happy! Both were written by heavily lauded, multi-published authors.

    I gave them the benefit of the doubt. I kept reading even when the wrinkles in my forehead grew cavernous. I finished both, but instead of gratitude and awe at having been transported or having learned something new, I just got mad.

    I’m sure plenty of other people loved these books, but I didn’t.

    Reading is my number one favorite hobby. I read constantly. My expectations are high, and I’m not going to apologize for it!

    • Dutch665 says:

      I liked what Jill said. Lately I have read a lot of bad books written by established writers. One in particular felt as if they were writing in their sleep with some formula, fill-in-blank form novel computer program. This is far more disappointing to me than a new author missing the mark.

      • Jill Kemerer says:

        I’m more forgiving of new authors, but honestly, I haven’t had much to forgive. I’ve been impressed with almost every debut I’ve read this year. It’s the ones where I have expectations that I’m reading from someone with master skills, only to feel cheated when the book doesn’t measure up. You’re not alone, Dutch665.

    • Thank you Jill! I was hoping someone would feel the way I do when I’ve blown time, money and emotion, not to mention a low gig cranial capacity, on an awful book.
      My theory is, if this certain well pubbed author is going to put out a highly anticipated book, I’m going to expect the best. Right?
      I actually tossed the book to the end of my bed.
      I save the fire and arrows for free books.

  14. Craig says:

    The worst is when someone highly touts a book to you and it turns out to be terrible. Then you end up with a poor image of not only the book and the author, but the person who recommended it!

    It’s hard not to get frustrated while simultaneously reading a bad book and your own rejection letters. But it’s a good reminder that publishing is a business – and like any other business there are bad products that make it because the proprietor of that product is good at business. And there are great product ideas out there that can’t get started because of a lack of business savvy. Reading a bad book actually inspires me to place more succinct focus on the marketing and presentation side of my efforts.

    But yes, it is frustrating.

  15. I’ve come across two books I couldn’t finish, they were that bad (to me, anyway.) Others I’ve shrugged my shoulders after turning the last page thinking, “well there’s several hours I’ll never get back.” But I still finished the book, which means something in it was good enough.

    This publishing world is completely subjective. It as to be, otherwise there would be one publisher in each genre as all work would meet the same credentials.

    My would that get boring.

    There’s good and bad everywhere, at least when judgment is made. So it goes.

  16. Law Reigns says:

    I’m not going to hand Twilight to my conservative grandmother and expect her to love it. Take Twilight for example, no one is going to argue the writing is the next Harry Potter, but it did well because it did it’s job for it’s intended target market.

  17. Furkles says:

    A book may be badly written in many ways. How was this book badly written?

    Most people rarely read a novel. If they are targeted correctly and the story fills a niche, the book may sell well. The sentences need to be short, the syntax needs to be simple, and the grammar need be no better than common speech. The key is a story that fills a niche not otherwise covered by other recent novels.

    The publishing industry is not about satisfying the literary reader. Literary novels do not sell all that well. Of course, if you have an appealing and fresh idea and a compelling story, then really well written prose helps.

    Historically, the “dime” novel outsold the classics. But in those days well written books were kept and read many times by several people. So, the dime novel was ten cents and the literary novel cost three dollars. In today’s money, that would be $1.50 vs. $450.00. Because hardbound books are relatively much cheaper today and because the general public is much more affluent, both types may sell for twelve to twenty dollars.

    Is it aggravating? Well so is the price of bell peppers.

  18. Brent Salish says:

    I might divide the world into two kinds of bad books that sell – those some people enjoy reading (anyway) and those that get purchased but rarely read beyond p. 30.

    I’m reading for my own book club a book on a very interesting topic (almost everyone voted for it last time) that is poorly written, badly researched, and almost unreadable, though I slogged my way through half of it because the topic itself was so interesting. Then there are books like, say, The Rembrandt Cipher, which millions of readers love even though few of them (or anyone else) would claim it’s well written from a technical or literary or even this-makes-sense, willing-suspension-of-disbelief standpoint.

  19. I’m not a big drinker, but sometimes I’m thankful my book club meets at Chili’s. Nothing washes down terrible writing like a margarita, especially when another clubber really, REALLY loves a story and I stopped at the prologue. In those cases I find it’s best to gag my opinions, identify with one character, and say something nice: “I enjoyed Jane Smith, the chef. Her recipes for cheese fondue sounded fabulous!”

  20. It’s always helped me to remember “this will be me.”

    Someday, someone will read my book and RAVE about it… and someone else will read part of my book, scoff at such poorly written drivel, and throw it across the room.

    And now that my first book is out, yup, while I have plenty of great reviews, I also have those select few who wanted to throw it across the room.

    It’s a bit painful to know that *I* was “that author” for someone.

    But, yeah for differing opinions and the freedom to express them (some louder/stronger than others, ha!)

    • I’m with you, Krista. I don’t want it to be my book that gets tossed across the room. I guess it goes back to Rachelle’s post yesterday about feeling like an impostor. I’m going to go crack open another one of those craft books. 🙂

  21. Dee Bright says:

    Yeah, it can be frustrating. From my perspective as a reader and as a writer.

    I used to feel the need to finish every book started. Not any more.

    If the story is entertaining and engaging I can ignore much of the rule breaking, like head hopping, for example, even when my internal editor emerges. “How did this get past the editor? Is this even (well-known author’s) writing, or is s/he having someone else ghost write now?” But if a character behaves in an illogical way–like not calling the police even after her apartment has been ransacked and she’s receiving threatening phone calls and she’s in fear of her life and her best friend goes missing and… you get the idea–most likely the book immediately goes into the donation pile in my garage. Sometimes more forcefully than others!

    So yes, it’s curious why some really bad books get published and other great ones don’t. All the more reason we need to remind ourselves why we’re writing–and Who we’re writing for!

  22. Sometimes a poorly written book will spur me on with my own writing. “I can do that – or better,” I proclaim to my husband. “I know you can,” he responds. So I return to my laptop and take up the challenge.

    Your comment, Rachelle, about the freedom to choose which books to read makes me think of Nazi Germany when Hitler had huge book-burning rallies. (Somebody please correct me if I have my history wrong.) Communist and dictatorial regimes have always tried to control what the citizens read because what we read has such a huge effect on our thought life. So now I have a new way to look at books that don’t appeal to me. I’m glad for the freedom to turn them down and choose something that resonates with me.

  23. What has been true for me is that a book is rarely all bad. There is usually something–no matter how tiny–that I relate to or enjoy. Even a book where I disliked every character had a detailed and interesting setting.

    Self-publishing has increased our options, but it also has increased my expectations of what a traditional publishing house should provide over self-published titles. I find myself less forgiving of typographical errors or inconsistencies if the book is released by a big name publishing house.

    One book whose popularity I never understood: The Witches of Eastwick. I couldn’t make it through three chapters.

  24. I think we need to be careful to distinguish between badly written books and books that didn’t appeal to us because of certain story lines, etc…although doing that distinguishing can be difficult if we just know we didn’t like a book and can’t say why. I realize I’m not going to like every story line or every main character. That’s fine. I wouldn’t toss a book for that, although I would stop reading (I don’t have time to waste on plodding through a book I don’t care for). However, I might toss a book riddled with bad writing. I think there is so much competition out there that telling a good story shouldn’t be enough anymore. A book needs both a compelling plot AND good writing.

    • Amen Lindsay!! Bad writing and unappealing stories are two different things. We should be able to differentiate between the two. ( Ohh, nice Scrabble word, eh?)

    • You make an excellent point, Lindsay. They are very different. One other thing that would frustrate me is if the back cover blurb didn’t match the contents. I bought a book that was supposed to discuss the 2012 prophecy. I didn’t know much about it, so I wanted to learn more. The book was more about the author’s spiritual journey and politics than it was about the prophecy. The prophecy wasn’t even mentioned until over 100 pages in.

    • hear, hear! I agree. Great point, Lindsay.

  25. Joi_the_Artist says:

    I know I hurled Eclipse across the room once, as cliche as that sounds. A math textbook and grammar workbook also soared through the air at times. But I think that’s it.

    I was sorely tempted to throw Anathem across the room, but refrained for two reasons. 1: the first 98% of the book was truly incredible. It was only the ending that sucked. 2: the book weighs several pounds (I have the hardcover) and it might have put a hole in the wall.

    Curse you, Neal Stephenson! Why did you have to get me so interested and then let me down right at the very end?? *weeps*

    • Larry says:

      Indeed, when you brought up Ms. Rands’ book, it made me think of another aspect of this topic: where A Really Bad Book deserves the title due to one or a few unsavory parts of the whole, but not the whole product itself.

      For example, even though most of Ms. Rands’ book is interesting, the ending is so terrible and disgusting that it becomes A Really Bad Book. Because even though it is part of the book, it is a part that cannot be seperated from the whole, and indeed, I think Ms. Rand herself said in one of the prefaces to the book that the only part she considers important IS the ending!

  26. I find it difficult to push through 3 or 4 chapters of a RBB. I do feel all of the usual frustrations (see above), but it’s also strangely comforting to see that everyone picks a different poison. There’s room in this world for an abundance of art. I’m always inspired by our collective differences.

    Reading a RBB also inspires me to get my butt in the chair and make the beginning of my book stronger. After all, life is too short to read bad books, no matter who wrote them!

  27. I’m in a Classics Revisited book club, and this happens even with the classics. It’s quite eye-opening when someone with whom you usually agree on books likes a classic that you hated or vice versa. At least with the classics, the disagreement comes from the content of the story or the characters since most of them are at least well written, even if the styles are very different from contemporary books.

  28. Recently, I read a series. Each book is in the 500 page plus range. When i began I thought the author was just brave, but after reading all the available books I realized that I just don’t like his style. I read certain types of books for escape, and I felt like the writer open the dungeon doors, invited us into a grand adventure outside the cell walls, only to loose the hounds on us and stab us in the belly just as we start to feel free. For me, that done it. It happened again and again, and I’ve discovered my palet is craving books that make me feel either better or fuller at the end. If I want a world of dark I can watch the news.

  29. Lori says:

    Yes I have thrown a book across a room however it was a text book that I was reading when I was in college. I thrown it out of frustration and not because it was a poorly writen text book which it was not.

    As for reading a really bad book, I figure if these authors can get an agent and then a publisher (unless they self publish) then I should be able to when I am ready. Bad books by bad authors give me more confidence in my abilities. I figure these authors are displaying the imposter syndrome where they actually think they can write.

  30. Hmm. It’d be interesting to know the title of the Really Bad Book!

  31. Like a few greater minds before me have stated, the difference is bad writing and not-so-riveting storyline.
    I’ve read the Iliad. Annnd let me just say, it was, like, the best nap ever!

    I refrain from using my reading time on ANYTHING Amish. Or Vampire-y. Or, heaven help us, a math textbook.
    Does it mean the books are bad? No. It means that Amish , vampire math whizzes annoy the living daylights out of me. One fraction at a time.
    But I tried to read a best selling ABA book that half my Christian friends raved about and was nearly stunned at the substantial dreck factor. (No, not one with the number halfway between one and a hundred and the things you wear to keep the sun out of your eyes.)

    Thankfully, there are lots of books out there that qualify as literature to which we can all aspire to be compared.

  32. I recall a book I wanted to throw a few years ago, but I resisted the urge because I was on an airplane flying home from a writing retreat for novelists. It’s not good to throw things in a fully-loaded airplane.

    After several days studying at the feet of an author with impeccable credentials in both the CBA and general markets, I couldn’t wait to read his newest book. On the fifth page, I closed the book and never reopened it.


    The main character was a recovering alcoholic. On page five, there’s a reference to his “AA mentor.” Anyone with the slightest knowledge of AA (or any other 12-step program) knows recovering alcoholics in AA don’t have “mentors.” They have “sponsors.” That little breach of authenticity rendered the author untrustworthy and his main character totally unbelievable.

    The most amazing part of that gaffe was that it went unnoticed by so many people in the publication process. That told me that not one of them had any experience with recovery and apparently not one had spent any time researching the matter. A ten-year-old with a web browser could have caught this in three minutes or less. Did zillions of readers not notice this gaffe and keep reading? Probably–but not the ones who knew anything about alcoholism.

    In fairness, I should say that finding that gaffe turned into a good thing for me, a teaching moment about the importance of accurate details when building fictional characters and using the right word to fit the character and situation. I’ve kept that book around as a reminder, so it’s not wasted money. Now it’s a business expense. 🙂

    On a related note, I read another book recently that made me want to throw it, but not until after the cliffhanger on the last page. When I turned the page and saw the publication date of the next book in the series (a year away) instead of the next chapter, I said something very unkind to the author in a very loud voice. Then, after an appropriate moment of silence, I laughed out loud and said, “That’s exactly what I want people to do when they get to the end of book two in my series!”


    • Iola says:


      I’m a stickler for getting the facts right. I’ve just not finished a book because it had so many factual inaccuracies.

      Another pet hate is English characters using American words and phrases in speech – especially in historicals, where they didn’t have the pervasive influence of TV.

      I don’t throw books any more, because most are on my Kindle.

  33. AAL says:

    I recently read a dreadful mystery by a gazillion-selling author whose books are made into TV shows.

    Everyone who appears in the book is a viewpoint character…for at least a paragraph or two. Even the murder victim (but it would have dramatically improved the plot if we didn’t know he was dead at first). There were crazy POV shifts with no warning, leaden dialogue, and I wished the main viewpoint character would kill herself a dozen times over. There was no one in the story to root for.

    I was under obligation to review it, so I had to finish. I pretended it was a screenplay and managed to get through it that way.

  34. tyunglebower says:

    “I love the fact that there are so many different people writing so many different books.”

    That, I think, is a shrinking truth. The very thing you discussed at the start of the post is the reason; more and more trash is being published, and unless we count those books which people publish themselves, the industry (Big Six…soon to be Big Five) perpetuate the unbiquitousness of garbage books.

    They like to claim to be the gatekeeper of quality, but a quick look at the biggest books of the last ten years should put that theory to rest.

    It is frustrating. Also angering. Disgusting. Disheartening. The publishing industry has become nothing more than McDonald’s for the literary world, and I am afraid that unlike you, I am not encouraged by the facts that there are hundreds of thousands of McDonald’s I could go to, or that they have served “billions and billions”.

    • Larry says:


      It is disingenuous when those who publish trash books say they have a love for books, when what they are doing is destroying the art form.

      This isn’t a matter of “are books democratic” or “being a book snob.”

      It is like being a television station that plays nothing but “reality” tv, trashy talk shows, and insepid sit-coms, yet saying, “Oh, television is a great medium to tell a story! To provide entertainment!”, but never acknowledging that the product one sells panders to the lowest common denominator.

      Furthermore, it is likely that said televison producer most likely also says, “The products we show merely reflect the era we live in! I run a company, you know, and we have to keep up with the market!”, while, once more, not acknowledging that they contribute and influence the state of the market and the quality of programming available, and that a prostitute can say the same thing about needing to be “financially viable.”

      Doesn’t change how the producer and the prostitute are selling a cheap imitation of reality: the reality of human nature, and the reality of love.

      If only TV guide and Readers Digest provided normative summaries, not merely descriptive ones……

  35. As a teen, I would suffer through bad books, forcing myself to read them once I’d started. I don’t anymore. There is such a thing as poor writing, there is poor style, and then there are just books I don’t enjoy, like Turn of the Screw– although I disliked it intensely, I know that is due to personal taste, not a failure of the writer.

    I do have a hard time not speaking up about a book’s flaws, and often even the most tactful, specific and constructive critique is taken as an attack. I say, if your work cannot stand scrutiny, don’t publish!

    • Jill Kemerer says:

      So funny–Turn of the Screw was my favorite Henry James! Just goes to show you, what one person loves, another person hates. 🙂

    • Lori says:

      I love Henry James novella “Turn of the Srew” too and I loved the movie “The Innocents” that was based on it.

      However, the other movie adaptations I’ve seen were really bad (would of prefer to use another word but I want to be polite).

    • Larry says:

      Ah, if we are talking about the remarkable Mr. James, nothing beats the genius of “Daisy Miller.”

      I agree, I couldn’t get into “A Turn of the Screw” either.

  36. Josh Kelley says:

    I dislike books that are insipid (or that I feel are insipid ;)). But those are not the books I want to throw across the room.

    I “hate” books that had tremendous potential but were ruined with poor scholarship or lazy logic.

  37. Perhaps it’s because I’m not at the querying (and getting rejected) stage yet, but I try to see a hopeful side in it. If something that badly written can get published, then maybe I have a chance!

    So most of the time I do little more than roll my eyes or maybe laugh at the writing a little. The only time I’ve ever really wanted to throw a book, it was because of the main character and plot, not the writing. She was a horrible, manipulative, awful person, and the writer failed at making her sympathetic or justifying her actions. I couldn’t stand it.

  38. Jackie says:

    Yes, Rachelle, this about kills me. I often write in Barnes and Noble, and I look around and think how my manuscript is probably better than a lot of what is on the shelves there. It about kills me.

    I know that one obstacle I need to overcome is that my book seems too secular for a Christian audience … but too Christian for a secular audience. Does anyone else have that problem? IS there even a solution, without selling out one way or the other?

    • Larry says:

      That is something which quite a few authors around these parts have pondered. In fact, Rachelle did a post just on that very subject! “What Makes A ‘Christian’ Novel”, or something like that, here on the Books and Such blog. I’ll link it to you if I find it.

    • Jenny says:

      Jackie, I’m dealing with the same problem. Would love to keep this conversation going. Did you read Janet’s post a few days ago which included pin pointing your audience? I asked her if it’s possible to write to both audiences. Basically, she said no. So, I’m trying to figure out what to do with my book.

      • Larry says:

        While I cannot speak directly to the reply Janet gave, I’ll address what you summarized her response as being:

        The belief that one cannot appeal to both a secular and Christian market is a sentiment which I feel perpetuates the isolation and marginalization of the CBA and other Christian publishing circles from the wider market. This is troubling, as one would assume that Christians would especially want non-Christians to get a direct perspective on their faith, considering how often popular culture accidentally misinterprets it, parodies it, and often downright purposefully mischaracterizes it.

        Such sentiments that the ‘twain shall never meet [secular and Christian markets] paints a picture that the Christian market is, at best, about providing an outlet for those who want to engage in reading but cannot find want they want from secular authors, and providing an outlet for Christian writers who cannot get published in the secular market; at worst, it is tantamount to calling anything which strays outside of strict criteria as non-Christian [which is frankly truly disturbing], and ex-communicates writers to a publishing purgatory for their “heresy.”

        Yet the self-imposed marginalization and isolation of various Christian publishing circles does nothing to alter the more unsavory behavior often derided in secular publishing: one commenter on this very topic today has brought up the point of how some Christian publishers, who should hold themselves to a higher standard, publish sub-standard work to seemingly ride a trend and make a quick buck.

        Indeed, such self-imposed isolation exacerbates some problems: when one has an artificially [and extremely] limited choice of acceptable content, the probablity of an author getting a book published that does not fit within current trends is worse than secular publishing [as many authors of Christian Sci-Fi have pointed here on various blogs].

        Yet it is not a question of discarding Biblical views to reach a wider audience and make money: many Christians can agree on certain subjects, which if glorified, would definitely NOT make a book reflective of Christian values; but when one has to contend with policies stating that some things are “non-Christian” and yet such content policies do not reflect a consensus amongst Christians [for example, a taboo on tattoos, as Rachelle mentioned in the blog I linked to], then the issue is not about discarding Biblical values, but placing certain doctrinal interpretations [which, once again, do not reflect a consensus amongst Christians] as the standard for content.

        Do secular readers, academics, critics, etc., automatically dismiss anything dealing with Christianity? Surprisingly, no. It depends on, as what this whole discussion is about, the content. Flannery O’ Connor and John Cheever are held in high regard, even though one would hardly call those authors “secular.” Faulkners’ work deals focuses on the Fall translated to a Modernist setting; he is hardly deemed a lousy writer. If we are to be frank, it is not that Christian themes, writers, or books are simply dismissed for “being Christian” : it is that the strict guidelines of those who PUBLISH “Christian” fiction have led, through their self-imposed isolation and artifical criteria of what is deemed “Christian”, that produces work that by its very nature cannot measure up to objective criteria for quality and accessability that secular books are subject to.

        In other words, “Christian” fiction is in the paradoxial position of NOT being panned for what it is….while being panned for WHAT IT IS.

      • Hi Jenny, yes I did see Janet’s post — and even though I kind of already knew that, it still struck my heart with terror.

        I feel as though I’m being asked which group I want to have read my book — and I want EVERYONE to. 🙂

    • Larry says:

      Here is Rachelles’ blog on the topic:


      • Even after reading that post, I’m still not sure if my book is a Christian book or not.

        (This doesn’t do anything to help Imposter Syndrome that Rachelle blogged about on her website this week!)

  39. Nicole says:

    When I come across books that I consider “bad,” I try to remember that not everyone has the same taste in books that I do, and that that’s okay. After all, if I am ever able to publish, I know there are people who won’t like my book, but there will be people who do.

    If I come across books that fall under the category of how-did-this-get-published, I try to use it as motivation to strengthen my own writing, and hopefully appeal to readers who might otherwise pass my writing by.

  40. Stephanie M. says:

    I recently got in soooo much trouble over this!!! I was w/ a group of highly educated friends and one said she had read Really Bad Book and liked it. Could I just let it go???


    I basically asked how she could like something so incredibly Bad and she told me I was being judgmental and my tastes weren’t everyones. Could I let it go then?


    I argued, but it’s BAD. Objectively BAD. By any measurement, BAD.

    Why was it so important for me to be right? No clue, except as a writer it triggered something elemental in me.

    So, in the interest of friendship – Just let it go. I think reading preference is becoming just as taboo as faith and politics. (And is that a good thing???)

    • Jenny says:

      Stephanie I think you were probably right about the book being bad. Everyone can say that it’s taste, but there really are poorly written books just like there are poorly made recipes. I think readers are looking for a good story. I think writers are looking for good stories that are written well. We know bad when we see it, because we write. Expecting a non-writer to know good and bad writing might be like expecting a non-techy person like myself to know the difference between 8GB memory and 32GB. There’s a BIG difference, but I have no idea.

  41. I’ve never thrown a book, but once (and only once!) I took one back to store and asked for my money back! Seriously, I was facing an 8-hour flight across the Atlantic. I’d made it to page 27 in the airport and couldn’t bear the thought of being stuck with it. They let me exchange it and I was much happier!
    I don’t worry about the number of “bad books.” It’s just that there are so many good books and my time is limited.

  42. Rick Barry says:

    I fall back on the old saying, “Different strokes for different folks” for books and movies. The world is brimming with people of various ages, various upbringings, different senses of humor, different interests and–dare I say?–different I.Q.’s. The fact a story that strikes one person as formulaic and predictable doesn’t stop it from becoming another person’s #1 favorite.

    That’s a good thing. The wide variety of tastes out there provides a broader market for us story-tellers: Something for everybody, but nothing for everyone.

    • Larry says:

      In principle there is nothing wrong with what you wrote, Mr. Barry.

      The problem is that the realities of the market, and the absurdity of those who influence the market, decide what is available.

      And often the absurdity of those who control the gates to the market is mistaken for the realities of the market and of the book buyer.

      What we have is a market limited by trends, idiots, and writers who get tired of not being able to keep food in the pantry and contribute to the whole mess by chasing after the trends and idiots in suits who chase after the fabled “average book buyer,” much like a gang of drunken idiots hunting after the Snark.

      [Of which they need not worry, snark being in high supply by wrathful writers].

  43. I haven’t actually thrown a book, but have felt like doing it at times. I get frustrated when I read poorly written books by famous people that obviously wouldn’t have been published if written by someone else. And I once got fed up with a book by a well known Sci-Fi writer that was boringly like his earlier books. But publishers know books by famous people and well-known authors will sell even if they’re no good.

  44. Ruth Madison says:

    If a book is very successful, I think it is filling a need in some way. If it is speaking to thousands of people over the world, then there is something of value in it, even if I don’t see it.

    I totally agree with you. I am grateful for the variety of books because my taste is not the same as the next person’s!

  45. One of the most intriguing ideas someone imparted to me over the last year was when Randy Ingermanson stated, in his Snowflake Method class on the ACFW class loop, that a great majority of readers will NOT like our books. I thought he’d said 80%, but when I quoted this figure to authors at the conference they were aghast! So, I cornered Mr. Ingermanson (who, before that knew nothing of who I was) and asked him to clarify the number. And like any great former physicist he threw out approximate statistics of population and figures of sales of bestsellers, calculated all this in his head as I waited with baited breath, and came up with a number in the nineties. Now, *I* was aghast. And yet, comforted. Not everyone needs to love my book. I just need to find the ones that will, and make them my tribe!

  46. Bad books on ministry are a dime a dozen. No, I meant that literally. Go to the seminary cafeteria and you can get twelve for ten cents. I use them to balance book shelves, start fires and line the chicken coup. Did you know chickens love bad books on preaching? Maybe that’s why so many old hens gather in church foyers, but I digress…

    The number one thing I do with a bad book is use it as a growth tool. When I know why I don’t like it, the discovery improves my writing. So there’s never time wasted, sort of, yeah that’s the ticket.

  47. A teenage girl gave my son a book and told him he needed to read it a couple of years ago.

    I found it on his desk and asked about it. He said, “Mom, you don’t want that book. It’s horrible.”

    When I asked why, he was able to articulate his reasons.

    I was encouraged that my teenage son can distinguish a good book from a RBB.

    I didn’t read the book but learned from friends who bought it that he was right.

  48. Before I throw a really bad book across the room, I read a second book by the same author. (I’m a glutton for literary punishment.)

    A trend I’m seeing in Christian fiction that disturbs me is the huge amount of Amish novels that are truly awful. The characters are flat, the dialogue wooden, and the plots utterly predictable. I’ve read some excellent Amish fiction, too, but the vast majority of it is “throw across the room” horrific.

    It makes me wonder: Why do Christian authors and publishers think it’s ethical to continue cranking out poorly-edited Amish fiction just so they can make a quick buck?

    Why aren’t editors at royalty publishing houses demanding that these authors excel at the craft of writing?

    It disturbs me that so many beautifully-written books never see the light of day because the industry is busy publishing everything they can get their hands on in the current “it” genre, seemingly without a care about the quality of the writing.

    Perhaps you could address this issue in a future post?

  49. Elissa says:

    “There is no accounting for taste.”

    I don’t know who said that first, but it’s something my Grandmother used to say when I was very young.

    Another common aphorism: “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

    I’ve often come across books where the writing or plot events didn’t appeal to me. It could be said I’ve thought a book or two were “garbage” or worse.


    No one appointed me the Queen of Good Taste and Arbitrator of Good Writing. Maybe the books I like might be considered Really Bad Books by someone else. I might think Author A’s writing is clunky, Author B’s prose makes violets look pale, Author C’s premise is shakier than a cobweb, and Author D’s plot has a hole that could engulf the entire state of Texas plus a little bit of Arkansas. So what?

    The fact that they each wrote a book that was published and sold well does not really have an impact on whether or not I ever have my work published or if it sells. No one really knows why some books sell well and others don’t. Yes, okay, there are some authors whose books will always sell (a particular horror writer comes to mind) but that wasn’t always the case even for them.

    So, I read a “bad” book and am not inclined to read any more by that author. Then I move on. Thousands of books are published every year. Some are good, some bad, some transcendent, some abysmal. No matter what, I’ll never be able to read them all.

  50. Jenny says:

    My daughter is a photographer and she is very picky about which of her pictures are shared with others. I think they ALL look amazing, but I don’t have the eye for photography, so I don’t see all the little things that are blaringly obvious to her. I think the same thing happens when writers read. If we’re good at what we do, we have an eye and an ear for the little details that don’t live up to the high expectations we set for ourselves. Some bad books are worse than others. I was amazed that the Twilight series was so popular. The acting is even worse than the writing. So, why do people read and watch this stuff?! I’ve noticed if a book is poorly written, but it makes me want to know what is next, then I will keep reading. If a book is terrible and not going anywhere, I can easily put it down and chalk it up as a waste of time and/or money.

  51. Larry says:

    I wonder why the author bothered to write something so banal.

    I wonder why their agent decided to represent them.

    I wonder why the editor who approved it didn’t actually read it. [No, I don’t really….that must be a soul-crushing job, reading a metric ton of garbage EVERY DAY. I pity editors. I really do. To love books and have to read SO MANY BAD ONES, that they can no longer distinguish between what is good or bad].

    I wonder why the publisher chose to publisher it. [No, I don’t really…..because I can’t blame a company for being unable to make a normative judgment. That requires a soul, and no matter what the philosophy of this era states, corporations are not people].

    I wonder why anyone would buy it. [No, I don’t really….I blame the public schools, which have been churning out generations of young adults who received an education in how to procreate, which along with our institutions of higher learning graduate them with a degree in carnal knowledge yet leave them ignorant of how to discern right from wrong to any measurable degree, or how to reciprocrate the knowledge of their forefathers of how to measure the stars to those they sire who are in dire need of them to be real mothers and fathers, which if we have learned anything the question of humanity and humility is one thing that our edu-tainment system doesn’t see fit the need for them to learn.

    So I don’t expect them to buy anything else, when garbage is all one can buy when one barters with fools’ gold.

    • Lynn Johnston says:

      When I think of bad books, I think of bad movies that we all have sat through and asked ourselves “Why?” It is easy to see how a cheesy book can some how sell many copies when pitiful movies manage to attract loads of people. Think of how many people are involved in a movie’s production. It makes me wonder how a cheesy movie can slip past all of those people without anyone questioning it’s quality. I suppose it is like what Rachelle said, there is a book for everyone. It seems like books (and bad movies) are like clothes, there is a size for everyone and often one size does not fit all.

    • Erich Penhoff says:

      I dont throw bad books, if they are bad I stop reading after fifty pages! But we should remember books are sometimes just good stories being told. Not every reader is a literary giant, in fact most read for the entertainment, they leave the critiquing to editors or such. Alone s gender specific book will only appeal to certain groups, the same with faith content. Commercial writing follows the proven ritual, if it sells we have a winning hero in action. Sequel will follow! Editors live to a much higher standard of vocabulary, that alone is suspect in a country where 35% of the populace is virtual illiterate, it points out the average rate of readers being around 50% of intellect. A short time ago I read a political statement, one page alone made me fold it and toss it!
      We as writers appreciate editors and publishers, we do want to be better than we as writers really are, but then how many of us have graduated with a MA in literature?
      So dont throw it, give it to someone that is less demanding, maybe it will catch on in his mind and he starts reading more!

      • I do the same thing. I stop reading. Before I even buy a book, I check the quality of the writing. Does the first sentence grab me?

        In this do-this-yesterday world, it is amazing that this dreck gets published. But every time I vote, I’m reminded that not everybody is intelligent and uses logic.

        We should be teaching logic in the third grade. So many students nowadays resort to name calling on Facebook and can’t follow a logical argument.

  52. Rachel Kent says:

    I absolutely hate cliffhanger endings. They cause me to chuck the book almost every time. Ruins a good read in my opinion.

  53. Fiona Robinson says:

    I cherish books and devour them with glee so try really hard to commit to every book brought but some do test the patience. I calmly put them aside and revisit at a later date. If they still wear me down the get sold off my over crowded bookshelf.
    But one book beat me and I never finished it after years of failed attempts.
    This was a bug in my side until I read a quote from an author I adore Charliane Harris replying to someone complaining that they didn’t like her latest book:
    “There are so many great books in the world to be read so why waste time reading one if you don’t enjoy it?”
    I now follow this rule as my ‘to read’ list piles up!!

  54. Jeanne T says:

    I’ve never ACTUALLY thrown a book across a room, but I’ve definitely thought about it. I’ve had a few that I just couldn’t keep reading because they drove me so crazy. Those went to Goodwill.

    I like the way you changed your perspective and tried to read it anyway. You bring up good a point that different people like to read different kinds of books. It’s good for me to remember that. Not everyone will like the books I write either. Trying to read with an open mind is a good thing. Usually. 🙂

    Knowing that there are some truly bad, er books that don’t appeal to me out there, it makes me want to write something that is genuinely high quality. Hopefully, I’m doing that.

  55. Avery K. Tingle says:

    I’m a writer myself, so I remind myself that as I grow in popularity, someone will almost inevitably refer to my work the same way I’m referring to the book I just introduced to the wall at high velocity. The book is successful for a reason. The fact that I can’t stand it and have no desire to emulate it in anyway does not make it any less of a success. I remind myself that this is not the kind of writer I want to be, and that everyonen has their own opinion, and then sell that book at first opportunity.

  56. Ann Bracken says:

    Um, does a math book count? My calculus book hit the wall many times.

    I think books are like most everything in life. There’s a plethora of different kinds because there are that many kinds of people. I’ve had this same reaction to movies, restaurants, clothing stores, etc. Someone raves about it and I just don’t understand the excitement. Others have the same reaction to me. 😉

    I like Fiona’s quote of Charliane Harris and follow it. I’ll try what others recommend but feel no compunction to like it simply because they did. Nor do I expect them to like everything I do. Then I stick to talking about those things we have in common.

  57. Laurie Evans says:

    About a month ago, I read a book that I really enjoyed…until about the 95% mark. The ending was so, so, SO “off” that I wanted to chuck it across the room. I was reading on an ereader so I couldn’t throw it. I almost wanted to buy a copy and heave it against the wall!

    I SO enjoyed the author’s voice and writing (I’m very picky about what I’ll read), so it was extra disappointing to have such an off ending. I looked up reviews and other people said the same thing about the ending. What a bummer!

  58. Sharyn Kopf says:

    Yes, I read a lot of really bad books. Or, I should say I don’t finish a lot of really bad books. Still, I wouldn’t say they make me feel resentful or frustrated but, rather, give me hope. You never know what will resonate with readers. Maybe my novel will have that kind of impact. And, Lord willing, be a good book in the bargain.

  59. Monica Tlachac says:

    Whenever I come across a ‘bad’ book, I sometimes feel angry. However, I remind myself that if I get published someday, others might feel that way about my book (though I certaintly hope not). We all have our own tastes in reading. Typically, though, there is some part of the book you think is decent, whether characters, plot, descriptions, etc. even if the overall book is ‘bad’.

  60. Burgandy Ice says:

    Trouble is if I “agreed to review” it. Otherwise, no brainer, toss the thing. (Virtually, not literally. Please!!)

    In one particular case, I contacted the publisher and apologized for not completing “as agreed”, but no way would I be able to finish the darn thing, let alone review it above 1/2 a star.

    And I mean… the writing. The emotional upheavals with no reason or reaction. Characters making bad decisions is irritating, but seeing the author behind the story making bad decisions is not worth reading.

  61. Gailene says:

    I’m glad I read this blog and the posts that follow. Sometimes, a book I consider badly written has discouraged me as a writer. I’ve completed an amateurish first draft and know how difficult it can be to keep the book flowing as it should chapter after chapter, but I’m working on improving it. There are passages and scenes that do what they should do to move the story and that’s what brings me back — that and the thousand-and-one story ideas that continually take root in my imagination. Usually, when I close the cover of a really bad book, I’ll think: If that stuff can get published and sell, why am I losing sleep over perfecting my writing? But the bottom line is that my name will be on my work and I want to be proud of it whether it’s a bestseller or bought only by those who are blood relatives. I’ll remember next time I come across a book I consider really bad that to each her own taste and that someday, someone may say the same about my book. I just hope it’s two people out of a few million! How’s that for dreaming big?

  62. I blogged about a couple of books that disappointed me … it’s at the end of this post:

    I didn’t name the authors or their books because I’ve met both of them and reading their books kind of broke my writerly heart.

    Both books taught me a lot about what I don’t want to do so in the end it was a win, but a sad and frustrating one.

  63. I don’t know if I’ve hurled a book across the room, but I’ve definitely screamed while reading some, wondering what on EARTH the author was thinking…

    But, like everyone’s said, some books work for some and not for others. I can’t stand tacked-on, sermon-y endings. I can’t figure these out, since many of the books that do this are geared toward already-Christian readers. I guess they’re trying to hit the unsaved with the gospel while hitting the saved at the same time. Still, you can do this without having your main characters spout theological diatribes in the last three chapters, completely veering from the plotline.

    And as far as different tastes, I’m one of those who appreciates Stephenie Meyer’s writing style (mostly w/her sci-fi novel, The Host). It moves fast, hooks you right away, and has flawed main characters (okay, except for Edward, which is why I’m not crazy about him). But the MCs are relatable. She doesn’t use tons of adjectives/adverbs, yet her settings are very clear in the readers’ minds.

    Back to writing a book that hopefully won’t make anyone hurl it across the room…

  64. Jenny Tavernier says:

    I am kinda a book whore, always bringing them home from everywhere, so I have something, just in case. (Abibliophobia – fear of running out of reading matter – lol!) I am picky about what I love, but will gladly read anything to hand, no matter the genre – as it could be a discovery, OR a learning experience. (The editor/reader hat turns on by itself – Sometimes it rears its head briefly, sometimes it becomes a constant. (Maybe I ‘m a masochist! lol). Lately I have running into a buffet of books (used), that look great, grabs one at the beginning, great voice, great premise, stays above the 80% line, wonderful scenes, but it is just that. The scenes/chapters stay at the same level. No swings, too much of a good thing, same motion, for too long. One successful moving scene moves easily to another successful scene – ad infinitum, but it is doomed to repeat endlessly, – and it gets really irritating. If there WERE any climaxes, it was buried. If there was an ending, sheer volume ahead of it did it in. All I wanted to do was physically FINISH it. Learned a LOT from that one. The long and winding tome… whets the appetite, but then it is force feeding, course after course.
    I will finish it because I had high hopes, and my attention was caught at the beginning – but it was a great learning experience. (And a total relish to chuck it.) I often wonder if there was simply a contract/deadline thing to fulfill, and that was all the author could do or cobble together.
    Then I look at some of my wild 1st draft ideas, and just burst out laughing. But boy, it’s a great way to learn and hone, when you really have reams of good and the bad to compare. It also teaches one a LOT about themself! Because of course, YOU would never do that! (Because you haven’t yet.) But when you do, it’s nice to have the developed antenna to spot it!

  65. jesse says:

    Twilight anyone???

  66. Penelope J. says:

    How about Shades of Grey? I’ve heard it’s poorly written but from the sales figures, that doesn’t seem to matter.

    What is sad is all the well-written, interesting books that don’t find an agent or publisher or are lost in the self-publication deluge.

  67. Amanda Socci says:

    I’m not really worried about the fact that there are bad books out there because I’ve already grown accustomed to poor writing on the Internet. Sveral years ago, I hesitated in starting a blog because I didn’t want to be dumped into the same pool as all the other poorly written blogs.

    Since then, I’ve changed my perspective, just like you did, and decided to focus on my own writing, knowing I’d be satisfied with producing quality writing. As for the writing of others, well…I know it still exists, but I don’t let it bother me.

  68. Kent says:

    I think some bad books are published because someone along the line believes they can be SOLD. It’s all about the money. I didn’t read Fifty Shades of Grey, but my wife did. She said it was a horrible book, technically and esthetically. But it is the all time bestseller on Amazon Kindle. I also think bad books are published because known authors wrote them. I’m a huge fan of the Stephanie Plum books by Janet Evanovich. A few years back they started publishing her earlier work to capitalize on her name. I eagerly bought a handful at the bookstore expecting the same smart, funny, witty writing style. They were horrible- and boring. It’s all about sales and money.

  69. J. E. Rogers says:

    I am going to surprise everyone by saying that the last book I wanted to fling wasn’t because I thought it was awful, it was because I was amazed and shocked at the ending itself. It was so wonderful, and so well written that in my exhilaration I wanted to stand and shout. If someone was in the room with me I would have sent the book to them at warp speed and yelled, ‘read this!’
    There are always going to be books that evoke emotion; sorrow, happiness, laughter. The books that make us stop and ask, ‘why is this in print,’ are still a work that someone may have put their heart and soul into. As a writer myself, I try to remember this when I start to read any book.

  70. Roxanne Sherwood Gray says:

    I hate holding a bad book in my hand, knowing it’s in print and mind isn’t. 😉

    Also, I’ve read a series by a major author who didn’t tie up her loose ends. She created characters I cared about, then left children in peril as the book ended. And it was last book in the series. Wait! What about the children? Wasn’t the hero going to rescue them? I don’t care what new books the major author writes. I won’t be reading them.

  71. The very first book in a popular series of a best-selling author was, in my opinion, so poorly written that I couldn’t imagine at the start why it had ever been published. Didn’t the editor see the trite phrasings and repetitive actions? The amateurish way he moved from scene to scene? I shook my head.

    But I kept on reading and came to realize that what the publisher must have been going for was the story. This guy was a storyteller, and he told his story the best way he knew how.

    When I mentioned how badly the book was written to some friends, they were surprised. They hadn’t noticed. They just knew it was a heckuva good story. I learned from that.

    To give this author credit, his writing style improved greatly in his subsequent books.

    • Tasha Turner says:

      I’m seeing this with a number of series I’ve started reading by best-selling authors in the genre I’m writing in. The 1st book or too has IMHO a lot of “bad” writing but the book and the series have gone on to be best-selling. I’ve read some of these same authors later works (shorts in anthologies) and its clear their writing has greatly matured.

  72. I read a book recently that made me cringe more often than not. I read the reviews of the book on Amazon, and to my surprise (and confusion), most of the reviews were positive. It made me wonder if they had read the same book. But in a way it motivates me to keep writing, because it makes me want to write something better.

  73. I love to read. Nonfiction I hold to a different standard as I would think anyone would.

    For fiction, I hope for and expect a good story. The more I write and “learn” about writing, the more I see things in other people’s writing that are “wrong.” In fact, this “learning” almost ruined a series for me; it was by an author I really liked. I hated that. And it disappoints me when a “bestseller” has obvious mistakes. Some things even grate on my nerves, like an author who uses a certain word over an over.

    Nevertheless, I’ve always read with the attitude that I could find something good about any book. In reality, there have been a few, very few, books that I could not say that about.

    One series did disappoint me terribly because the stories were so empty and the mystery so not there, but the books sold like crazy, and there were MANY books in the series; of course, there was an animal central to the story. [Sarcasm]

    And there has been one book that I had to destroy because I didn’t want to be responsible for providing it for someone else to read. That was about content, of course, not about rules. And content is subjective.

    Still, I do everything I can to put as much into the reading as I hope the writer put into the writing. Together, we can almost always have a decent experience, if not the best. If not and if I can, I skim the rest of the book quickly and then read the end. I haven’t yet thrown one though. 🙂

  74. Ann Averill says:

    Yeah, there’s plenty of drivel out there. I don’t have time to read it. If a book doesn’t speak to me, I don’t finish it. There are plenty of great books that do.

    Watching the TV show “The Voice” was very instructive. How many fantastic singing voices performed? But they weren’t chosen by every single judge or even a single judge. It’s all about developing your writing voice and finding an audience with which it resonates.That’s where an agent comes in handy!

  75. Dan Miller says:

    I’ve saved a couple of quotations that always make me laugh when I see what I consider to be a Bad Book:

    “This is not a book that should be tossed lightly aside. It should be hurled with great force.” Dorothy Parker

    “Thank you for sending me a copy of your book – I’ll waste no time reading it.” Moses Hadas

  76. I was recently asked to review an ARC by a VERY well-known multi-million selling author. I was excited for the opportunity but got about 2 chapters in to the book and put it over on my nightstand where it has remained, unopened for the last four months. Writing can definitely be hit or miss.

  77. This is a timely post, Rachelle. I just moderated a panel of readers at a mystery writers/readers group about what readers like and don’t like about the books they read. It comes as no surprise that even the panel didn’t agree on what was “good” or “bad” about the books they discussed. My frustration with readers is that many of them (just as in this panel we had) favor well-known, best-seller authors, who have been widely reviewed and touted in the media. I asked them if they ever give an unknown, new writer a chance, and they all said, “No,” not unless a librarian or friend recommended them first. I, personally, consider many of the “A List” writers to be highly overrated and often past their initial talent. That they continue to be formulaic, rehashes, and still pass for “excellent” bothers me. But of course, I’m being judgmental as we all are.

  78. I’ve often wanted to throw my own writing across a room…

  79. Tasha Turner says:

    “Bad books” or are they? A question I’ve been struggling with for the last couple of years. Who defines “bad”? I find it rare that I enjoy best-selling authors I seem to be more of a mid-list reader. Is a book bad because I find a lot of “writing mistakes” in it but readers love the book? No. So I have made myself read best-sellers and “competitor” books that did not do as well asking myself what makes one book book more saleable than another. Why do so many readers prefer x author over y author who I think is “better”? And I have no idea LOL. But it has helped me with “bad books/I can’t believe they really published this never mind it was a best-seller for x weeks” a lot. If readers enjoyed it than it is a good book just not to my taste. Period. Our job as writers is to entertain and engage readers.

    Does this mean I have to write a book that I’d consider bad? No, because we really don’t know what is going to take off. So the goal is to write the best book we can, market it properly, and hope it will be a success, whether that is touching a few lives or many.

  80. Hilary says:

    Bad books get published because they know they can make it into a Julia Roberts movie. It’s a business, after all.

  81. . . . kinda’ depends on how heavy the book was.

  82. Lyn says:

    I do reviews for a company that supplies books to Christian school libraries. The reviews are very thorough and can run for 4-5 pages. The aim is to give the librarian enough information about a book so that they don’t have to read it themselves.
    One book that I had the misfortune to read will NEVER see the light of day on the shelves of any Christian school library – or at least it shouldn’t. It was written for early teens, and ran to around 468 pages. On those pages there were 386 instances of blasphemy, swearing, nudity, rape, murder, sexual innuendo – and not just innuendo, but full-on sex scenes. That, in my opinion, was a “bad book,” but for completely different reasons Rachelle gave.

    I did something with that book that I have only done with 2-3 others – I burnt it.

  83. Bad books…yes I have tossed them across the room. I like to think I have a broad mind and maybe it’s only bad in the beginning but it’s not. I wonder how these authors can be published, some of them with many books. I think, surely if these books can be published then maybe I’ve got a chance too. We’ll see.

  84. Kim Henson says:

    Usually it doesn’t bother me, but there is one particularly “bad” book out there that irritates me because I don’t agree with a couple of things in it, on top of it being poorly written (according to me). But it has sold kazillions of copies. The way I make myself feel better about its existence is to tell myself that since it was published and has sold, maybe I’ve got a shot at a book after all.

  85. A person in my book club suggested a series, the first book of which, had all the negative aspects that you mentioned, Rachel, and other members all had the same thought, “How does this trash get published—and made into a series no less!” The person suggesting it is very well educated, and it really made me wonder if this is her mind clearing exercise. But what a total waste of time and trees!
    All the while excellent authors kill themselves to get published.

  86. I belong to several book clubs that are very vocal about books they don’t like. Often those meetings generate some of the most interesting discussions but, like you, I hate to read a book that I hate to read.:-)

  87. Elisabeth Allen says:

    Oh. yes, I know this feeling! I usually just roll my eyes and move on when I come across a book that seems (to me) like a waste of bookshelf and bookshop space. Sometimes, however, a book REALLY annoys me and then I have a private rant about the “crazy” person who put it into print! 🙂 Seriously … I try to remember that it’s the product of a person who spent a long time dreaming and writing it into being. (Of course, that’s sometimes a bit worrying, but oh well …) There’s usually something good – an interesting character or a witty (even if by accident) line – in every book.

  88. vic hansen says:

    My impression is that books can be ‘good’ or ‘bad’ in different ways. I can think of three, off-hand, that will impact the way I respond to them.

    I know that we are forbidden to mention books but I hope you’ll forgive me for saying that I can’t read Dickens, despite having been forceed to finish two or three of them at school and college. The problem for me is the richness and discursiveness of the imagery. For other people that is his strength.

    Another dimension that seems to affect the way I respond to novels is the build up of suspense. There is a best selling author that I can’t read because he doesn’t ever seriously menace his characters – just raises an idea of danger and then unravels it before it gets anywhere near critical – but obviously millions of other people prefer it that way.

    The third thing that I want to find is an ending that links in to the structure of plot and characters. Another best selling author that I’ll never read more of has, in both the books I’ve read, a character who has been portrayed as a ‘good guy’ with no hint of his real character, suddenly turn out to be the villain. Yuck! Just having been one of the people in the room when the murder was committed isn’t a good enough excuse to have him suddenly pull out a gun and menace the protagonist on the last page.