So on today’s Booking Through Thursday we are being asked the opposite question of last weeks. This week the question was “What’s the best ‘worst’ book you’ve ever read — the one you like despite some negative reviews or features?” This is actually an incredibly hard question to answer and means that you need to think what constitutes a bad book. I have actually had some heated debates at previous book groups over this one when I claimed that I thought that Martin Amis’ London Fields was possibly one of the worst books I had ever read. I was asked “what my criteria for a ‘bad book’ was?” and I was stuck.
Some times it can be the writing style that I simply don’t enjoy. The plot might not go anywhere. I could be reading that specific book at the wrong point in my reading life (for example I think had I read Wuthering Heights at a younger age I would have enjoyed it more). I might not have gelled with the characters or the voices in the book, I don’t agree with ‘if a book has awful characters it’s a bad book’ as not all books should be happy and not all characters should be likeable or nice. It could also be that it’s simply not my genre or my taste, some people don’t like crime or thrillers – I love them, I don’t like science fiction and fantasy but that doesn’t mean every book in that genre is bad. I may not relate to any of the characters, sometimes you might totally empathise with a character because you have been through what they have for others it might leave them cold.
So in looking at all that it very much down to peoples own specific opinion. I love reading peoples reviews on blogs, in the press, on Amazon etc but when I do I always remember that this is one person’s opinion. I might write a review on here raving about a book that everyone else could loathe, it doesn’t mean either opinion is wrong it just means that we have differing tastes and differing factors that make us enjoy a book a specific way. If a review is completely and utterly glowing then I admit I am more likely to want to read the book and of course there are some reviewers, friends and bloggers you begin to trust because they seem to like all the books you do and any they recommend you whizz through. There is a very good piece that The Times ran ages ago on books that were so bad ‘burning is too good for them’ I think I would read any book deemed dreadful if it meant it would be saved from this…
As for my own Best Worst Book of all time, I am still struggling. I googled ‘Worst Books of All Time’ and laughed at some of the titles suggested on various different sites and also agreed with some. I didn’t like ‘Wuthering Heights’ which some people love, some people loathe ‘Pride & Prejudice’ which I think is a marvellous book. I think that if some of you saw my shelves would wince (in fact people have) at certain authors they don’t deem as being ‘literary’ for me books are about escaping and like I discussed with my review yesterday it could be a masterpiece in the depths of war torn India, or a page turning serial killer on the loose in Boston if I escape and if I enjoy it how can either be bad?