A Monkey Could Have Written That

One of the frequent complaints I hear from writers is that there are so many bad books out there. If you want my opinion on that, read my post “All Those Awful Books.”

Today let’s put a positive spin on those books you don’t think are well-written. Instead of whining about it, why not try to learn something? Just saying “It’s a piece of s**t” doesn’t make you a better writer.

Instead, ask:

1. Why did this get published? The topic? The story? Author familiarity? Something else?
2. Who is the audience for this book? What is it about the book that might appeal to that audience?
3. Is there anything in this book that I can use to improve my own writing?

This will help you think more like a publisher. You no longer have to be mystified (and personally offended) by all the published books you think are dreck. You can apply the intelligence you obviously have (duh – you’re reading my blog *wink*) and deal with reality.

So. Think of a book you’ve read or seen lately that made you feel a little nauseous.

Now get beyond your disgust, distance yourself from your emotional response, and apply the above three questions.

What insights can you glean from that “bad” book?

Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent

Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Gardner Literary. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


  1. Julie Musil on July 10, 2010 at 8:16 PM

    >Great idea! Just like we learn from the great books, we can also learn from the not-so-great.

  2. Leigh D'Ansey on July 10, 2010 at 8:12 PM

    >You make some good points here. It pays to keep things in perspective. Before I began writing full-length fiction I had tossed aside the odd book or two with a thoughtless comment. Now, I think kudos to anyone to actually finishes a novel that ties a plot and characters together and has a beginning, middle and end – it ain't easy!

  3. Kathryn Magendie on July 10, 2010 at 6:36 AM

    >Maybe I'm turning into an old softie, but, I know how much work sweat tears heartache longing hope, et cetera, goes into actually writing an entire novel, so I find if I don't like a book, or think it's not well-written, or whatever the case is, I just chalk it up to my own personal taste, but I still wish the writer well.

    Shoot, there are books making millions that I didn't like – so am I "right" and the millions are "wrong" about the book? It's a subjective business, same as you pointed out in your other post: movies, clothing, art, music.

    S'what makes the old world turn round and be interesting enough for me to write about it 😀

  4. Linda on July 9, 2010 at 11:01 PM

    >Good post and something to think about. I am reading something now that I've been having those same thoughts about and wondering what made the publisher choose this particular one. Food for thought.

  5. Karen McGrath on July 9, 2010 at 9:56 PM

    >Excellent post. A year and a half ago I read a current book in my genre and was blown away by the simplistic plot, incomplete sentences and foul language.

    1. It was published by author familiarity.
    2. The target audience loves simplicity.
    3. I learned to uncomplicate my stories and use down to earth language.

    It was a great lesson.

  6. Anonymous on July 9, 2010 at 8:34 PM

    >I agree with Pen in the Wilderness.

  7. Terri Coop on July 9, 2010 at 8:31 PM

    >Stephen King in "On Writing" talks about the power of a really bad book and how it can get you thinking "I can do better than that" and for some, actually motivate them to do better than that.

    My personal "bad book" motivator is called "Slatewiper." Big name, big book, big premise. Failed to deliver on all levels. It meandered off into stupid details like the heroine's boat having a portion of its hull made out of depleted uranium and a nauseating fascination with the Mary Sue heroine's stick thin legs, and enormous bosom all topped off by her Ph.D. (of course).

    I actually fell asleep reading the book, dropped it, woke up, opened it randomly and finished it without realizing I'd skipped 50 or so pages in the end (ya know, the obligatory free-for-all chase/gunfight).

    On my first page of my first draft I wrote better than that!


  8. Jillian Kent on July 9, 2010 at 7:07 PM

    >Hi Timothy Fish,
    You said: Jillian Kent, it’s interesting that you didn’t like seeing the second book about the same story written from a different point of view.

    IF I would have known up front that I was buying the same book basically from a different pov that would have been fine. But that I thought it was the sequel and expected the book to pick up where it left off is what totally disappointed me.

  9. Anonymous on July 9, 2010 at 6:17 PM

    >Sorry–I meant editors and writers–even agents often edit so how can they miss these glaring errors?
    Maybe only a former editor would notice…

  10. Anonymous on July 9, 2010 at 6:16 PM

    >Timothy, I was an editor in a past life but I'm surprised so many mistakes get past both authors and writers. It's hard to read without editing books myself, so either the pubs are short-staffed or sloppy or rushed or all of the above. Sad that so many good books have so many mistakes!

  11. Maureen Mullis on July 9, 2010 at 5:47 PM

    >You make some valid points in your posting here. The one thing books that I find bad do for me is to inspire me to keep going, as in "if they could get published, than I can too!"

  12. Sheila Cull on July 9, 2010 at 5:08 PM

    >Some of the books that I've read in the past, say, twenty years, have taught me that somehow – you can get published even if you're not that good a writer.

  13. Timothy Fish on July 9, 2010 at 3:54 PM

    >Jillian Kent, it’s interesting that you didn’t like seeing the second book about the same story written from a different point of view. I remember reading a couple of novel that were written that way several years ago and I enjoyed the concept. But in that case it wasn’t exactly the same story. But because the two stories were taking place at the same time and using many of the same characters, the stories crossed each other frequently. I’d love to try that sometime.

    Anonymous 10:15, the author must take full responsibility for poorly edited books. Sure, we would love for people to catch our mistakes and there’s a large publisher whose name doesn’t start with A that seems to be doing a particularly horrible job of editing right now, but if the author makes a mistake and the editor doesn’t catch it, it is still the author’s mistake.

  14. 80s Queen on July 9, 2010 at 3:25 PM

    >Great post and definitely something to think about.

  15. Kate on July 9, 2010 at 3:05 PM

    >I don't find myself thinking, "This book is bad." I've encountered plenty of good books with great writing that I couldn't finish. For example, Richard Russo. I love him as a writer. I love his humor, his characters and the challenges they face. But I have a hard time getting through his books sometimes.

    I disagree with content more than actual writing technique and style. We all know Stephanie Meyer is criticized for her writing ability by some. I think her writing is quite good, it paints a very clear picture and I was present in her world while reading Twilight. But the story itself didn't float my boat. And clearly, that is a matter of personal taste.

    I don't finish books I don't enjoy. I don't worry about why they were published. I just read books I like. Life's too short, ya know?

  16. Kim Kasch on July 9, 2010 at 2:54 PM

    >All I have to say is "I wish I were that monkey"


  17. reviews on July 9, 2010 at 12:41 PM

    >Every time I get tempted to bash a book too strongly, I remind myself: most of the things that bother me in other people's writing, are things that I do wrong in mine. There's just some weird thing that I've found the flaws writers most dislike in others' work are often the flaws they themselves exhibit. If you tap into this, it can be a great way to gain insight into how to improve your own work. If you don't, you just end up whining about how you could do better than that best-selling writer.

  18. Anonymous on July 9, 2010 at 12:35 PM

    >Thank you!! That's such a pet peeve of mine. I went to a conference where someone was trashing The Junie B. Jones books and talking about how they use terrible language and they're teaching our kids to write terribly and how scholastic had a conspiracy going with the school so her daughter's teacher HAD to read them to the class.

    Thankfully the speaker didn't call on me when I raised my hand, because I would have told her exactly what I think about that. Plus, the speaker was an author who had just said that in her book, she didn't always write things in correct English in her book because her MC was a 12 year old boy who used a lot of slang.

    Books are popular for a reason, even if they are poorly written. Twilight always gets bashed for terrible writing, but it obviously resonates with so many readers. Instead of bashing, look at what it does so perfectly right, and she if you can do it with better writing, hmmm?

  19. Brother Cysa Dime on July 9, 2010 at 12:21 PM

    >Entertainment items (books and dramatizations) sell because the meet the emotional needs of the buyers and viewers. Not because of the craftsmanship of the writers and performers.

  20. Lyla on July 9, 2010 at 12:06 PM

    >It seems like a lot of time, mediocre books are published because of the author's name. But I guess that means that somewhere along the line, that author did something that worked… and they must still be doing something, otherwise they would be gone by now. So, yup, you're right–we as writers can learn from anything!

  21. Jena Carper on July 9, 2010 at 11:49 AM

    >I'm taking a class in the fall called Category Fiction. We are going to be reading twenty different novels in several genres. However, not all of them are going to be high quality pieces of literature. Some are "dreck" as you put it. We are going to be examining why these books got published and what makes them popular. I think we can learn from all kinds of books, well written or not. That is not to say that we should try to carry on the bad writing! BUT we need to understand WHY these books are on the shelves and WHY readers are choosing to read them. 🙂 Great post. Love your blog.

  22. Walt M on July 9, 2010 at 11:40 AM

    >I've come across this in non-fiction books that are similar to the one that I'm trying to get published. The one thing I learned from these books is that the author had a "contact." (i.e. The author worked in media or publishing and knew somebody famous or well-placed.) The author's contact provided an endorsement of the book on the back cover and I'm guessing that's how the book got published.

  23. Anonymous on July 9, 2010 at 11:15 AM

    >I've noticed lately that many books seem to be poorly edited so let's not blame the writer (perhaps the editor) but the pub industry that forces us to hurry up and wait…When I see how hard it is to get a book published, I have to admire any writer who made it through all the hoops. Why do we need to insult writers to feel superior? Does it make us feel any better? Give these poor writers a break!

  24. ed cyzewski on July 9, 2010 at 11:07 AM

    >I recently read a decent book that didn't strike me as the kind of book that needed to be published. It didn't have anything new to say that I couldn't find in other, better books.

    However, in examining it, I did realize he had a good controlling metaphor for his book (nonfiction) and he was addressing important issues. Those factors seemed sufficient to get him published so far as I can tell.

  25. Nathalie on July 9, 2010 at 11:05 AM

    >Well, there's always the old addage "Now I know what NOT to do." I've read some pretty nasty books in my time, but I bet every one of those authors was happy as a school girl on picture day when they read their words in print. So, kuddos to them for achieving the unachievable!

    Aside from that, if every author wrote the 'perfect' book, how would any of us grow and learn from them when we read? I mean, my book is perfect *wink* but I'm sure there will be others who think not. So to those who read it, when and if it gets published, and don't like it, I hope you learned 'What NOT to do'!

  26. wonderer on July 9, 2010 at 10:58 AM

    >Sally, that's an excellent point. I've read books that launched subgenres, and often the plot or pacing isn't that strong, but the premise is so eye-catching that it doesn't matter. It's the writers that come after who have to worry about everything else.

    I've had a couple of experiences lately where I've read books that got critical acclaim, and despite my best efforts, I just can't see why. Usually I can say "Oh, not my cup of tea, but clearly it's appealing to readers who like ___." Once in a while that doesn't work. Very confusing.

    The book I'm reading right now is YA dystopian, very popular. I'm finding that the setting (the premise of the dystopia) rubs me the wrong way. But the plot is fast-paced and exciting, the characters relatable, the descriptions vivid, the themes topical. In this case I can see why it works.

  27. Sally Bradley on July 9, 2010 at 10:49 AM

    >A year ago I read a book that wasn't written the best. BUT the setting and time period was unique to Christian fiction. There just wasn't anything like it out there. So uniqueness counts.

  28. Tom M Franklin on July 9, 2010 at 10:32 AM

    >isn't it true that series authors have a much easier time getting published even if their later stories aren't as good as their earlier ones? publishers are more concerned with sales than with writing quality. An established author who is good at meeting deadlines can be less concerned with the quality of their writing than those of us who are unpublished.

    My response to the first book that genuinely angered me that it was published (from a first-time author with a wonderful idea but a horrible execution) was to put my "I can do better than that!" to the test and become serious about my writing.


  29. Beth on July 9, 2010 at 10:26 AM

    >I don't run across many books that I think are really terribly done, although I do find books that I don't care for because they're just not my thing. When I was typesetting books more, I would find more that I was surprised were being published, but I usually chalked that up to different people having different tastes.

  30. Rachelle on July 9, 2010 at 9:44 AM

    >Pen in the Wilderness: It's fascinating to me how we all interpret things (like my blog questions) through our own lenses. Never did I say – and never would I say – that we should emulate crap writing. Never!

    I said, "What can you learn?"

    And sometimes the most valuable thing we can learn is what "crap writing" looks like and how to avoid it.

    You are vastly misinterpreting my post (and must not have read my blog before) if you think I'm advocating writing dreck. I simply want everyone to stop criticizing the dreck so much, just see if there's anything to learn from it, then set it aside and get back to work. Hopefully writing non-dreck.

  31. Pen in the Wilderness on July 9, 2010 at 9:35 AM

    >Completely wrong. Recognizing a POS for what it is absolutely makes you a better writer, because you then avoid writing like that.

    For good writers to instead emulate crap writing simply because publishers can't tell the difference sabotages the viability of the industry as a whole: the proverbial winning a battle to lose a war.

    Let's be frank: there is a reason so many published books fail or do poorly. It's not happenstance, it's because agents and publishers fail to weed out the crap ones, inexcusably often. If a chef screwed up orders with the rate publishing eats remainders, he'd be fired. And, it's just smug and shameless how publishing "pros" brush this off because their industry has a natural, story-loving consumer base that allows them to float past these failures.

    Writers should not 'go along' with these clear and undeniable professional failures just to 'get along,' particularly when they don't need to because most of them have day jobs. Let the people who live on publishing put their own houses in order.

    If publishers are publishing dreck, it's not writers who need to change the way they think so they can game the incompetent psychology of dreck-publishing publishers. If traditional publishers want to survive POD and ebook self-publishing, they need to change their thinking, and not merely about format and marketing.

    And, agents need to stop genuflecting to publishers, declaring them clothed when they are clearly not, and insulting their writer clients (and potential clients) in the process. As I said before, most writers have day jobs; they, on the other hand, ARE your day job.

  32. Heather on July 9, 2010 at 9:31 AM

    >I almost always find something to like in a book. I could probably count on one hand the books that I've chucked out the window, and most of those were old "classics".

    Last year, however, I picked up a book I was super excited about–I think the plot sounded like a Christian Indiana Jones movie. I read, and I was disappointed, but I learned a lot about plot execution from it.

  33. Anonymous on July 9, 2010 at 9:09 AM

    >I usually find one of these things responsible for making a "bad" book popular:

    * Characters–if you give us fascinating, original characters, we often don't care how well a book is written or even how tightly it's plotted.

    * Plot–a lot of people hate Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code, but it had a richly-layered plot, involving something most people care deeply about (religion), that unravels at a good pace.

    * Emotion– if we can identify with the book emotionally, or feel what we want to feel when we read it (e.g. romance), the book succeeds.

  34. Amy Sue Nathan on July 9, 2010 at 9:02 AM

    >A few summers ago I read a book by an author I already had enjoyed. Mid-way through the book there was a turn in the story that I did not like, but that wasn't the problem. The problem was that the subplots set up for almost 200 pages were dropped. Gone. Vanished. Nothing was resolved or mentioned again. There was no weaving toward the end. It made me very conscious of continuing threads throughout my short stories and novels.

    I still think about some of those secondary story lines and wonder how they might have been resolved.

    One of my best lessons ever.

  35. Anonymous on July 9, 2010 at 8:52 AM

    >That's a chimp, not a monkey!

  36. Jill Domschot aka Arabella on July 9, 2010 at 8:46 AM

    >I'm reading a book by Cecilia Ahern, and it's fraught with back story and passive sentence structures. The plot is still compelling, though, and I haven't given up on it yet. The thing is, this particular author rushes through her books and they aren't edited very well. The charm of the story is what carries them through.

  37. Durango Writer on July 9, 2010 at 8:31 AM

    >Two completely unrelated books (Twilight and The Shack) that didn't strike me as great literature BUT both speak to aspects of the human experience (desire, romance, search for God and meaning in life). Themes that resonate with readers with always be big sellers. I've learned a lot from reading both.

  38. Jillian Kent on July 9, 2010 at 8:29 AM

    >I loved Julia Quinn's, The Lost Duke of Wyndham. When what I thought was the sequel, Mr. Cavendish, I Presume, came out, I snapped that up faster than a piece of chocolate.

    Imagine my surprise when I started reading and felt like "I've been here before," but not in the way I expected. It was the same book as the first written from a different pov. I was SO disappointed. I couldn't finish reading it. I wasn't just disappointed I was angry.

    BUT, if you hadn't read the first book, you probably would have loved the second book. I'd never had that experience before. So it wasn't that it was a bad book but a disappointing surprise.

    It almost felt like Quinn didn't have enough time to write the book that was supposed to follow so made a decison to do this instead. I don't know, but if she wrote a true sequel to The Lost Duke, I would buy it.

  39. MJR on July 9, 2010 at 8:26 AM

    >I've taken so many novels out of the library recently and returned them after reading only a few pages. Some of them had really good concepts etc. but were barely readable. My only theory is that the author's first book was excellent, but that these 2nd or 3rd books were already contracted, which is why they were published? Or that my fiction tastes have become too narrow and I'm better off reading nonfiction? I honestly don't know…

  40. Dawn on July 9, 2010 at 8:25 AM

    >I totally agree with the person who mentioned a certain long running series that is starting to disappoint, but it is obvious why those are getting published.

    I started this summer by reading THREE books that I didn't like at all. Two of them, I realized afterward, were the second in a series. They definitely made the case for sophomore book syndrome.

    The third had a great plot. I was really intrigued by the idea and I could see where an agent or editor would be also, but the middle started to sag and the ending was contrived and predictable. It would have been a good example of an author working diligently on the beginning of the book while trying to sell it, but losing steam as he/she continued.

    Both of these are situations I hope to avoid!

  41. Teenage Bride on July 9, 2010 at 8:12 AM

    >I just try to be very open minded. What one person hates, another may love, and vice versa.

    There is just as much to learn form a "bad" book as there is to learn from a good one.

  42. Mike Duran on July 9, 2010 at 8:05 AM

    >Did my agent just say s**t? You've been hanging around Chip, haven't you?

  43. Terri Tiffany on July 9, 2010 at 7:56 AM

    >I love this post because normally I'm the kind of reader that if the book doesn't catch my attention– I put it down and move on. I haven't tried to figure out why it sold. But I will from now on.

  44. Timothy Fish on July 9, 2010 at 7:50 AM

    >I have my bookmark in a novel that I’m having a terrible time getting through. At some point I had an the emperor has no clothes moment and realized that the story is just about a kid raising a pet. In the past, the author has done some excellent work, even winning the Newbury Medal, so I can see why the publisher would want to keep putting her name out there, but I don’t find that particularly encouraging. Someone should have raised a flag and told her that this book wasn’t the kind of thing her readers wanted from her and yet the publisher just went ahead and published it. And considering the e-mail I got from her when I wrote to tell her about something I didn’t like in her previous book, I would imagine that she was pretty steamed about the reviews she got on Amazon.com for this book.

    Sometimes the answers I come up with for why a publisher would publish a particular book are things like what I mentioned above or because the publisher was looking to publish a book by an author in a particular minority group or because they were trying to follow the latest trend. I’m not sure there’s much to be learned from that.

  45. Shmologna on July 9, 2010 at 7:45 AM

    >I recently read a book that had a lot of "pet phrases." I can't remember what it was exactly, something to do with the eyes. Like, "He rolled his eyes heavenward," or something like that.

    Anyhow, I noticed this phrase being used several times in the first few chapters. It irritated me, but also made me start watching for pet phrases in my own work.

    The genre was a western historical romance, which always seems to be hot.

    ~Britt Mitchell

  46. Jason on July 9, 2010 at 7:25 AM

    >Just saying "It's a piece of s**t" doesn't make you a better writer.
    I have a rule that I try to learn a new lesson every day and today, that's it… 🙂

    But I really love middle grade books and a lot of middle grade debut authors get multi-book deals off the bat.

    I've noticed that the first book is always great, but once you put these new authors on a timer, all bets are off. I'm reading a series now (I really love the series), but the current book is not well-written at all and I've found myself wondering how the heck it got picked up.

    But the truth is, it didn't. It's still living off the quality of the first book, which was excellent.

    So I wonder if this is something that is widespread…

  47. Jon VanZile on July 9, 2010 at 7:11 AM

    >Hey, you used my picture!

    I can think of two mega-bestselling authors that I personally think are complete dreck (but no names, of course!). But …

    I once had the opportunity to work with a senior editor at a large publisher on a book that was under consideration. She told me something I still remember: "Plot over prose."

    My theory is that these authors are good storytellers, and the stories resonate. They might not be great writers, but pretty words aren't always a requirement for the mass market.

  48. Lisa Jordan on July 9, 2010 at 7:03 AM

    >I've been a fan of a secular author's series about a female bounty hunter. I just finished the sixteenth book, and while it was a fun read, I'm getting tired of the lack of character growth and the recycled plots. I understand why this author has a huge fan base–she makes people laugh. Her characters comedic mishaps allow readers an escape from reality.

  49. Author Sandra D. Bricker on July 9, 2010 at 6:50 AM

    >Katy, I like the point you make. I think that's the bottom line in why a certain reader connects to a book that very few others like or even appreciate. Using our words to reach a reader, making them see a bit of themself or someone they know in a character … It's narcissism at its most fundamental level, as diverse as the human condition itself. The editor reading one of those "awful" books saw something that reached him/her, and wanted to share it with others. So whether the story reaches 2 people or 2 million, I believe it is more about that connection than almost anything else.

  50. A. Grey on July 9, 2010 at 6:45 AM

    >Love this post! I'm proud to say that I already do this. In fact, my folks make fun of me (in a good way) because I'll say that I think a book I'm reading is horrible, but I won't stop reading it. When asked why, I tell them that I want to see where the author goes and then see what could have been done differently. I won't go so far as to take pen and paper and catalogue items and issues, but I WILL take notes on something I know I can use later to better something that I'm working on.

  51. Katy McKenna on July 9, 2010 at 6:41 AM

    >Tessa, I am laughing over here because I LOVE "Hanging Up." I've even recommended it to my agent, in case she wants to get an idea what it's like relating to siblings during a parent's decline. The thing is, I found plenty to dislike about the movie (Haven't yet read the book….), but I RELATED to one particular character so much that I could not stop watching. So here I am, the appreciative "audience" for a movie you walked out on! All those bestselling novels that I just don't "get" obviously have appreciative audiences. Part of my job as a writer is to figure out what on earth the readers saw in that book….. 🙂

  52. Tessa Quin on July 9, 2010 at 5:06 AM

    >Since I tend to read what other people recommend, or books by authors I love, I haven't come across this problem often. In movies, however, I walked out on Hanging UP some years ago, and it was clear why they made that movie: lots and lots of famous people in it.

    It's funny how it's easier to put down a bad book and just stop reading, but if you're watching a bad movie, you usually sort of just keep on watching (and wasting two hours of your life).

  53. Anonymous on July 9, 2010 at 4:28 AM

    >I like to think there's something for everyone in books. Why waste time trashing a book when you can write your own "masterpiece"? I heard so much trash talk about Twilight that I refused to read it but saw the movies to find out what all the fuss was about. And guess what? Now I know…and I really enjoyed them too.

    BTW love your funny photo!! Where do you find them? LOL

  54. jenoliver on July 9, 2010 at 3:57 AM

    >This is a great exercise – thanks very much for posting about it.

    I've been to workshops where the group has gone through suggested 'bad writing' (or, 'The Books We Love to Hate' *g*) and closely analysed why it sells. We were also challenged to discuss the parts that worked, which meant studying the material carefully and – probably most tricky – admitting that there were good bits (it's hard when you have an overall dislike for something). At first, I didn't know how I was going to be able to detach myself from my own biases, but it's surprisingly easy once you start digging in and pulling up things to talk about.

    It's a shame when people automatically dismiss 'bad fiction', because there's so much to learn from it. I'm sure your post will encourage people to analyse it rather than automatically throw it out the window. 🙂


  55. Lynda Young on July 9, 2010 at 2:44 AM

    >Reading bad books was what got me thinking that it might just be possible to get published one day. If they can do it, then so can I. (But my plan is to write GOOD books — of course).

  56. Cheree on July 9, 2010 at 2:12 AM

    >I totally agree. Instead of finding things to complain about, I would rather find out "why" it was published. There's something about it that was good enough to be seen, especially if it's popular. People are reading it for a reason. I would rather find out what that reason is.

  57. arlee bird on July 9, 2010 at 1:47 AM

    >If a book has been published I have to admire the effort no matter what I might think about it. To think of something that made me feel nauseous is difficult since I probably just put it aside and don't really remember it, but still appreciate the fact that the writer got the thing published and someone somewhere must like it.

    It's like relationships. They say there's someone for everybody. Every book has its fan as well.

    What Would You Do?

  58. T. Anne on July 9, 2010 at 1:26 AM

    >I've been hauling large quantities of books home from the library lately. My husband remarked to me the other day that I must have loved them because I was ripping through the stack. Actually most of them were bad for various reasons. Out of eleven newer novels I liked two, and of those two, I would only recommend one.

    I'm not that picky of a reader, really I'm not. The books in question weren't all in the genre I prefer or written in the style I gravitate towards. I think we all have our reading preferences and that's why certain books tend to stand out to us as special. For whatever reason the author struck the chord of our reading desires and it resonates.

    The reason I read just about anything is because I know I can learn something pertaining to craft from the novel. I'll admit sometimes the list of what not to do seems longer than the attributes to emulate, but whether I happen to think it's a good book or a bad book, it sold at a publishing house and I'm holding proof that somebody out there believed in it. It's my job to try and figure out why.

    On the flip side, I keep two of my favorite books that I do wish to emulate next to me when I write. I love to read them just prior to writing, to get the cadence and flow of good sentences. It acts as a palate cleanse from all those awful books I subjected myself to earlier.

  59. John Smith on July 9, 2010 at 1:12 AM

    >You're so right. Instead of complaining about how bad the books are, I should just learn something from it.