Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Great Books - Terrible Books

How some books reach publication is beyond me. Why some people consider themselves 'writers' is astonishing as well. I suppose I should be content to know that there are clear-eyed editors out there who know how to wield the red stamp of rejection. Bless them for sparing us from narcissistic drivel and just poor writing.

When winter's lack of sunshine ushers in bouts of Seasonal Affective Disorder I enjoy reading thoughtful books, uplifting accounts telling of events and people who have risen above life's sludge to realize their faith, their potential, or a deeper understanding of what is True.

I was given such a book recently, or so I thought. P.U. This book is a stinker! Written by a wannabe hack who can't decide if she wants to be a poet, a biographer, or the purveyor of pointless, titillating tales, it was only with a sense of fairness and hope that I finished this disoriented book. I was left feeling not only ill at ease but gypped. She wasted my time!

Frustrating it is to find inferior 'work' wrapped in a luscious title, with glowing reviews from (read the fine print) people and publications I've never heard of. Yes, I admit it, I became caught up in the manipulation of a creative cover and clever title. Reading the content, however, was like finding coal in my Christmas stocking. At least I could burn the coal for warmth or draw funny pictures on the sidewalk. But this piece of swill only takes up precious space in my home, for I cannot bring myself to burn any book. Reconsidering that.

What comes to mind is the old adage which states that most books would have made great articles; most articles would have made good paragraphs. I would add that some paragraphs would make good spit balls.

The hunt for a new-to-me great book continues. Anything to rinse this foul taste from my mouth.


tshsmom said...

The last book I read like that was: Fall On Your Knees. I kept reading until the end, hoping for a redeeming message at the end. There wasn't one. :(
I gave the book to a friend who was dying to read it. I never asked how she liked it. I didn't want to know.

Cherie said...

Maybe I'll be lucky and have someone reveal that they are dying to read this. Sad thing is, they might get their wish - dying of boredom and confusion! Ha!

Thankfully there are many many good books from gifted authors to wash the bitter taste away.

Anonymous said...

Here is a good example of why I LOVE to read your column here Cherie. I don't know if it's because you are honest, gritty, to the point, REAL, or is it because I agree with you 100% about poor writers and terrible books? You keep balance in your writing. I never know WHAT you are going to say.

Great post!

Cherie said...

Hey, Annie, thank you! So you've had experience with disappointing literature, too. I'm sorry to hear that. The upside is that it helps a person appreciate the good stuff when they find it, huh.

Angela said...

i'm reading "a stolen life - the journey of a cree woman" for class right now. it's written by rudy weibe (one of our top writers, here) and yvonne johnson. so far, so (really) good for an uplifting, true story.

i'm dying here. what was the name of the book you hated?

cecily said...

Confession. Sometimes I read trashy books because they are an easy read and silence the voices in my head. Not that I'm mad or anything, I just like an easy escape where I don't have to think too much! But as you say, not a good after taste really.

Now that's out of the way, I'm reading a fascinating book at present. Rereading because I like it a lot. Not deep and literary, but I love the story it tells. "The Arcanum" by Janet Gleeson traces the discovery of the arcanum for producing porcelain in Europe in the late 1600s, early 1700s. Depends if you like reading history books though. :-)

I too would love to know what the book was.

Cherie said...

Thanks, Angela and Cecily for the book recommendations. I shall look them up! They sound like just the sort of things I enjoy reading. Yes, Cecily, I do enjoy reading history.

The title of the book is not important to the moral of the story. Just attach the title of any book you've read that made you feel the way I describe feeling, and you've got it. ;)

Wandering Coyote said...

Ever heard of Library Thing: www.librarything.com? Excellent site, and it's free. My catalogue is under the name allykat and I have a widget on my sidebar if you want to check it out.

Cherie said...

No, WC, I've never heard of it, but I'm going to go check it out. And I forgot about your sidebar with all those great books. Thanks for the help!