Today’s fun lunchtime reading was provided by Sam at the Guardian Book blog where people were asked to share their worst books of the decade. I have to say that I’m generally more drawn to dark, despairing and cynical views of life as a whole and a worst list appeals to that side of my nature, but when it comes to books the sheer passionate repugnance people hold for the writing they dislike is really quite something.
There are plenty of authors I think overrated, loads of authors I don’t think can actually be called writers at all and a whole slew of books that I would only pick up if I was trapped in a lift all night with only them for company. But looking at the comments so far and thinking of the many bad reactions I’ve seen to innocent texts in the past, I think that it’s the overhyped and seemingly overrated books that are the ones that stick in people’s craw the most. A bad book with little hype gets not much more that a sigh or a passing sneer, a novel not to someone’s taste with flashy and overbearing advertising tends to elicit a far stronger response.
If we get to the point where only big books with big backers make it into the hands of the general book buying public, then surely all we’re going to get is a narrower view, more hype and more overrated novels. Something more for us all to complain about I guess. Although I’d much rather have the chance to avoid a book bashing bandwagon if it meant I could find more unusual books to love too.