Are there bad books? Or are they just "not now" or "I don't like that one" books?
For me, there are differences between badly written books (bad influences -- ptui!) and bad-for-me books (styles I don't enjoy, genres I don't understand, or too heavy -- literally or figuratively -- for a given situation).
Sometimes a book just isn't a Sustaining Book -- no help, no comfort on the first reading, or not worth considering a second time.
But then what? How should bad books get treated?
Before I moved from Lincoln Park to Edgewater, I had a lot of book-packing to do. That was good. However, when a shelf wasn't getting empty although a box was getting full, I did some thinning out. I left some of my lesser books in what I thought of as "the laundry-room library," hoping that my erstwhile neighbors might get some use out of the books.
In other cases, I lent out some books for friends to try. Ten months later, not all of them have been returned -- and they weren't bad books, they've just turned into strays.
I recently passed along some books to a good friend. She gave me some clothes which didn't fit her, or hadn't worked out as well as she hoped.
I realized that both of us were looking for good homes for things we could no longer use -- not bad things, just wrong for us. That's how the books were that I gave her -- a novel I tried and didn't like enough to finish; a detective story I enjoyed, but wouldn't read again, and another that I couldn't finish because it was too gory for me. (That last one wasn't bad -- I rather wished it had been written a little less convincingly!) The books didn't fit me.
Mentioning good friends reminds me that I must give credit to my fellow blogger Weather Girl for suggesting this idea. Thanks!
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Filed under: Sustaining Books