Thanks to Rebecca, here’s a thoughtful article from The Guardian about the value of reading bad books. Self-absorbed books, pretentious books, poorly crafted books – they all combine to help you appreciate the miracle of a great book when you encounter it, according to Stuart Evers.
There are only a finite amount of books you can read in one lifetime, so spending time with one that you know within 50 pages is going to stink like two-day-old roadkill in the sun seems counter-intuitive. It makes far more sense to put it down and pick up something else from the ever-increasing to-read pile. Yet I feel somehow incapable of doing so.
This isn’t because I’m one of those readers who have to finish anything they start, rather that I think that bad books can be almost as instructive as good books. They show you what fiction looks like when it’s malfunctioning, when all its wiring is hanging out.
What I really like about the article, especially as someone who is always asking herself what worked, what didn’t, and why why why, is that the comments take issue with the books that Evers lauded as near perfect experiences of fiction reading. Love that. One woman’s perfect is another woman’s puerile. Same with romance. I’m always so curious about reviews that laud books I couldn’t stand, or vice versa.