(Warning: it is 10:20 p.m. on Thursday night. I have the world's worst headache and because I have surgery in six days, I am unable to take ibuprofen or aspirin, and Tylenol doesn't work on me. So I'm awake because I can't sleep because my head hurts too darn bad, and thus, if this post reads a bit odd, you'll know why.)
I should probably clarify the title of this blog post. Good books are everywhere. But what I think is a good book and what someone else thinks is a good book are often radically different. On occasion, there are some books that transcend this divide and nearly everyone agrees on how magnificent it is (The Book Thief is such a book, and if you haven't read it, READ IT. NOW.).
Oh boy, was I wrong.
The writing was just so awful that I couldn't even get interested in the story itself. There was no hook at the beginning, flat characters, and really, really bad prose. After two chapters, I threw it down in disgust. How did this get published?
We've all read bad books, true. But I can't help but wonder if I'm finding fault with more books these days because of how I'm growing as a writer. I could have read this book ten years ago, perhaps, and not had a problem with it. But I've come so far in the writing craft (though I have a lot to learn yet) that I immediately saw all the flaws in the story. I couldn't make myself continue. While the idea for the book was intriguing, I couldn't get past the poor prose and lack of craft.
As my writing has developed, my reading tastes have become much more discerning. I can't pick up any book and invest my time in it if it's not written well. Unfortunately (or fortunately?), I cannot read a book that is written poorly, no matter how good the plot is. Bad writing pulls me completely out of the fictional world.
Whenever I go to the library, I get at least three books. Why? Because if one is a dud, I can go on to the next, and so on.
In a way, I feel awful for abandoning these books. As a writer, I know how much work goes into them. On the other hand, I wonder if they put enough work into it. However, this has only reinforced the subjectivity of this business. What one person loves, another hates. That's why we have one star reviews and five star reviews on the same book. In a way, it's rather fascinating to see how we all look at the world through different lenses.
Have you seen a shift in your book-reading tastes in regards to where you're at with your writing? Have you gravitated toward more well-written books as your writing has grown or can you overlook poor writing in favor of a good story?
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