Case for “Bad” Books

Note: The word “bad” is reference to the plot development or character development. It has no ethical meaning and is not related to the contents of the book. When that sort of thing happens, it is an all around coincidence. 

GK Chesterton wrote in Heretics, “A good novel tells the truth about its hero; but a bad novel tells the truth about its author. It does much more than that, it tells us the truth about its readers.”

Recently, Goodreads had an infographic with 5 modern and 5 classic books that people normally are discarded. Also, Goodreads wanted to find out what makes people put down a book. A majority of the people seem to give up on a book after 50 pages. I personally think that 50 pages are not enough to decide whether or not I like a book. I want to see if the author can pull the book together and save his/herself. I do not think that this is a flaw. Most people seem to think this is so. The 50 page limit seems a little harsh for me. In my copy of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, the fiftieth page is in the middle of chapter six. There is only one of the three familiar antics of Tom in the first 50 pages.

Do not get me wrong. I love reading good books. I love books that have a plot with well-developed characters. Yet once in a while, I chose a really bad novel where the two things above are missing. There are those books where I get 50 pages in and want to quit because the author is ruining everything.These books are frustrating and I want to send the copy back to the library (FIY: When I experiment with books for fun, I always use the library. It saves a lot of money in the end). Yet, I just have this urge to finish the book no matter how bad the book is. This summer, I read Irene Iddesleigh. The author Amanda Ros has the unique title of being the world’s worst author. Here is a sample. “Such were a few remarks of Irene as she paced the beach of limited freedom, alone and unprotected. Sympathy can wound the breast of trodden patience,- it hath no rival to insure the feelings we possess, save that of sorrow.” That is in the first chapter, and there are a whole lot more. What is the truth about the author? She might try too hard. Here is the inside cover of the book:

irene-iddesleigh

While reading the book, it was hilarious to look at the outlandish language and be confused over the plot. Yet in the end, there was the satisfaction of closing the book and picking  up another book. I appreciated the next author’s work so much more after I had the encounter with this book. That is the case. How are you ever supposed to appreciate the good if you never experience the bad? Sounds like a metaphor for life.

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