Bad books: Are there such things?

Bad books: Are there such things?

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.

(If you missed what I mean by Sustaining Books, you can find the definition here.)

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


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  • Thanks for a wonderful, inspiring post! Love the illustration, too.
    I know there will be more on this subject....a book on bad books, even?

    I too like the idea of passing things on--books, outfits, ideas. Such fun! Thanks again.

  • In reply to Weather Girl:

    You're welcome -- and thanks again for the idea. Glad to have figured out how to brighten things up beyond "just" the quality of the writing!

  • I thought from the title you were going to write about what to read in a German spa.

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    Wait -- wouldn't that be Baden books?

  • In reply to Margaret H. Laing:

    According to it's 'bad'.

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    I stand corrected (and happy that you noticed).

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