Original post written by Will Floyd for Bookstr
Published September 23, 2016
We try to avoid’em, but we know they’re out there
Is there anything worse than a bad book? I mean I know we try to keep things light around here, and write about what we love in books, rather than what we hate, but it can’t be denied that trying to plow through a bad book, whether it’s a school assignment, or just something you’re committed to taking down, a bad book REALLY gets under your skin. Ideally, you wanna approach all art with an open mind, but what happens when you open your mind as wide as it can go, and the book just won’t fit? Well, that’s a tell tale sign that you might be reading a bad book. Here are the 5 ways you know you have a bad book on your hands.
You’ve reached the 100 page mark and it’s not clicking
The 100 page mark is like the 3rd date. If you and your date haven’t shared a special moment by that point, there might be nothing there. The same goes for books. If we’re talking about an average book of say 300+ pages, then we should really be of to the races by the 100th page. If you still feel yourself making a heroic effort to enjoy a single sentence of the thing, then YOU’VE got a bad book.
You haven’t connected with any characters:
The best books have memorable characters of emotional depth. If you aren’t invested in a couple of them by a certain point, or you just plain don’t believe that they are real, then YOU’VE got a bad book.
You aren’t buying the plot
Plot= character interacting with environment. If you aren’t buying that the characters in the book are making realistic decisions, or you have a sense that the author is lazily manipulating plot, then YOU’VE got a bad book.
You don’t like the author’s tone
There’s a human voice behind every book, and if you aren’t liking the cadence that’s coming across, then chances are you’re really going to struggle through 300+ pages of it. Going back to the dating analogy, if you’re really not digging your date, you’ll be at pains to listen to them drone on for hours about something. If you find yourself grimacing at word choice and metaphors, then YOU’VE got a bad book.
You’re rushing to the end
A good reading experience is one where you lose yourself in the language, forget where you are, and become completely entranced by the author’s world. If you’re loving a book, you appreciate every page and every word, and you certainly aren’t begging for it to be over. If you find yourself begging for sweet relief half way through, YOU’VE got a bad book.
You think you could have done better
A well written book says “Sit back, relax. I’ll take if from here. I know what I’m doing”. A reader wants to feel taken care of, and be able to rest assured knowing the author has delivered the product of their best possible efforts. A poorly written book causes the reader the be highly conscious of themselves and the author.
If you find yourself taking issue with the creative decisions made, and hypothesizing alternative decisions, YOU’ve got a bad book.
I used to force myself to finish every book, but one day I realized that life is too short, and my TBR list is too long to endure the pain of getting to the back cover. Sometimes the actual story may not be the problem though. I’ve picked up unfinished books at a different points in my life only to realize how amazing they truly are – I just wasn’t ready for them the first time.
I’m curious about what other readers do in this situation. What do YOU do?