Let me get one thing straight. There’s really no such thing as a bad book. Ok there is… but there’s usually (not always) something interesting hiding underneath the surface if time were spent on it and good advice given at the start.
There are badly written books (which could have been put right by a fabulous developmental editor and a bit of education on the author’s part), badly put together books (which could have been saved by a fabulous copy-editor, designer and proofreader) and badly thought out books (which probably just needed more care and attention in the first place). But there’s really no such thing as a bad book.
A book is a labour of love for everyone involved – unless they’re just in it for the money (what money?).
But a book should not be a labour to read.
Now, I obviously won’t review a book I’ve worked on (that would just be plain wrong), I review books that I’ve been offered for review or books that I’ve bought that I think others should know about. I try not to give bad reviews as such, because sometimes a book just doesn’t work for one reason or another; I’ll give a constructive review if I think the book doesn’t work.
However, what one person thinks is unbearable will be another person’s award winning, all-singing, all-dancing, title-in-neon-lights book.
But if a book just doesn’t ring any bells for you, should you still read it through to the bitter end? HELL NO!
I’ve had this dilemma this week.
A book that many other people think is amazing, and yes, it’s won awards, has left me cold. It’s been fabulously researched (I do like my historical fiction) and there is a flavour of the life and times of the characters… but the writing and the characters leave me cold. I have absolutely no relationship with them, there is no connection and the writing style makes it difficult to create that bond. And this is an area of history I am familiar with, so there’s no surprising factual interest either. Half way through this massive tome I had the stinging realisation that life is just too short. Why, just because “people” think a book is amazing should we persevere and carry on reading it?
There are very few books I have left by the wayside, painfully abandoning them after trying with every fibre of my being to like them… I’m not asking for love, just a like. One was an Anne Rice book… I love her vampires, but one of the books was just too tedious (no I’m not saying which one), another was by Terry Pratchett. I LOVE his books with every fibre of my being, but I just couldn’t finish one of his early books. However, I did go back and read it later… a much older and wiser reader. But I don’t have that excuse now I’m not a youngster. I have read so-called high-brow books (I love Balzac and much of my teenage years were spent reading Yukio Mishima) and I have read some utterly trashy ones… there’s a place for them all.
But when that tedious, try as hard as you can to like it, book comes along do yourself a favour. Realise that you may love it later, you may never go back to it, but put it down and move on to the next one. There is always a pile of books to read, it’s not compulsory to finish every book you buy.
Do yourself a favour. Give in, give up and move on.
Life’s just too short to waste on tedious books.
*and yes, I did put that book down and am now reading a fabulous book Me Before You by JoJo Moyes.