Unloved Books

Sorry, I know I just posted here, and I try to avoid flooding people with blog posts, but I just saw something that fascinates me. I’d post about it next week, but I’m going to be away from the Internet for a bit.

Goodread’s Facebook page just asked people to list what one book everyone else likes, that they don’t.

Wow, so many responses! I kept scrolling through more and more comments, and then started seeing a theme.

A lot of the same books were listed over and over. 50 Shades of Gray and Twilight were at the top of the list.

What fascinated me enough to want to blog about this, though, were the reasons. Even though we can never make all people happy, writers want to know why someone likes a book, or doesn’t. That knowledge gives you something to strive to avoid.

A lot of people listed classics like Grapes of Wrath, Moby Dick, etc. The almost-universal reason was ‘it’s boring’. That makes sense to me because the classics were written for a different era and a different generation of readers. Back then, the world we lived in was much smaller. People didn’t travel like now, and the internet wasn’t there to open the world for us. So books tended to have long passages of narrative description to show the reader that world. These days a few sentences of description are all that is needed for most readers to ‘see’ the setting.

Some responders wrote that they hated a book so much they threw it against the wall when they were finished. I kind of want to read those, because for a book to cause such a strong reaction, there must be something there. The reader may hate the book, but obviously a few nerves were touched.

Most responders though, had similar reasons for not liking a book. Boring. Flat characters. Unrealistic plot. Unlikeable characters. Stupid protagonists. No change from the beginning to the end (in other words no character growth). Condescending to children. And just plain bad writing.

Those are all things writers strive to avoid and learn how to improve upon.

So how would you answer that question, and most importantly, why? Show us writers what to avoid.

3 thoughts on “Unloved Books

  1. I think you are right, the world is different these days. Our attention spans are shorter and we don’t relish the build up, we just want to “get to it”. A writer has to really be good at drawing people in quickly and keeping them with more than just a good style of writing.

  2. These are a few of my least favorite literary things: bad writing, a poorly thought out end to a book or a weak mystery solution: these things make me feel like I have truly wasted my reading time.
    Also, I can forgive some bad writing if I learn something along the way.

    And for the record I know some young adults with longer attention spans and some healthy curiosity about the classics so all is not lost on that count.

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