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Your worst book for 2009
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Caro



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 2932


Location: Owaka, New Zealand

PostPosted: Tue Jan 12, 2010 9:26 pm    Post subject: Your worst book for 2009  Reply with quote

Freyda's comment on the Top 5 books of your year made me wonder what your worst book of the year was.  And why.  My rated books only show one unfinished book (though there were others, some of them just on hold for a while, such as Cassino and David Copperfield); it was Plum Lucky by Janet Evanovich.  I have enjoyed her humorous crime novels in the past, but may have got bored with her style.  As well this one seemed to have a male protagonist who arrived and disappeared by magic, not something I want in a basically realistic novel.  Just silly.

The one I rated lowest was called Jam and Jeopardy by Doris Davidson, some sort of crime novel that was pretty hopeless, I thought.  I feel, rather vaguely, that the writing wasn't so bad, but the plotting and ideas were not viable.  Gardens of Delight by Erica James was also placed very low - I seem to have outgrown baldly written romances.  I used to like her too.  Or else she is now writing to a formula that is very bland.  

Of books generally highly regarded I didn't rate Pippa Longstockings all that well.  I do think that, while I like lots of modern children's novels, older ones need to be grown up with, otherwise they tend to feel dated.  Pippa was very light, fun but fairly nothingy.  It may have read differently in the days before 'girls can do anything'.

I used to love reading Astrid Lindgren's Emil books to my kids and Pippa may have read well out loud too, but we didn't have her when they were young.  (My son has complained that Milly-Molly-Mandy didn't form part of his upbringing and this is obviously my negligence. Lots of things they either were allowed to do or didn't get to do are examples of my negligence as a mother.)

Cheers, Caro.


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TheRejectAmidHair



Joined: 19 Nov 2008
Posts: 3864


Location: Staines, Middlesex

PostPosted: Tue Jan 12, 2010 10:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Something-or-other-beginning-with-a-Z.

I guess I lead a sheltered life, but I had no idea books so bad could be published. Embarrassingly childish in concept, embarrassingly inept in execution. Unfortunately, I can't even give my copy away as, when I was reading it, I got so bored that I started to amuse myself by scrawling obscene comments in the margin.

It may well be that no book is above criticism, but stuff like this is surely beneath it.


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MikeAlx



Joined: 17 Nov 2008
Posts: 2104


Location: Seaford, East Sussex

PostPosted: Tue Jan 12, 2010 11:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

TheRejectAmidHair wrote:
Unfortunately, I can't even give my copy away as, when I was reading it, I got so bored that I started to amuse myself by scrawling obscene comments in the margin.

You could always mail it back to the author... Laughing



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Caro



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 2932


Location: Owaka, New Zealand

PostPosted: Wed Jan 13, 2010 12:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The reviews under some Amazon thing didn't seem to quite say the same as you, Himadri, though the one they gave in full did say the execution didn't quite match the ideas.  They mention words like 'sophisticated', 'dextrously', 'superbly entertaining', 'self-paradyng', etc. If you don't believe me, see  http://www.complete-review.com/reviews/espana/zafoncr.htm  

Though there were quite a lot of damning with faint praise comments.  This was typical:  "The Shadow of the Wind is a fascinating, disconcerting and (for me at least) ultimately infuriating yarn that consistently mingles brilliance and banality, acuteness and delicacy of observation with cliche."  

Mind you, reviews of Erica James' Garden of Delight are full of 5 stars and wonderful comments, and don't say this was a light frothy nothing, not well written or developed.  One says, "Gardens of Delight is a wonderful novel in which the characters and locations come to life on the pages. The way that she deals with the emotions of the characters and the difficult subjects of looking after an elderly relative is just fantastic. Everything is done with great poise and tact but also shows the grim realities of life."  Can this be the same book I read?  I liked the review that mentioned 'tripe'.

Cheers, Caro.


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TheRejectAmidHair



Joined: 19 Nov 2008
Posts: 3864


Location: Staines, Middlesex

PostPosted: Wed Jan 13, 2010 10:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I actually wrote an Amazon review myself for that book, praising it to the skies and giving it five stars. I took it off after a while, but not before my “review” had collected a few votes finding it “helpful”.

As for the other reviews it got- well, I can't be responsible for what other people think, can I?




Last edited by TheRejectAmidHair on Tue Jun 08, 2010 5:13 pm; edited 1 time in total
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TheRejectAmidHair



Joined: 19 Nov 2008
Posts: 3864


Location: Staines, Middlesex

PostPosted: Wed Jan 13, 2010 10:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

MikeAlx wrote:
TheRejectAmidHair wrote:
Unfortunately, I can't even give my copy away as, when I was reading it, I got so bored that I started to amuse myself by scrawling obscene comments in the margin.

You could always mail it back to the author... Laughing


Mike, if I were to send my copy back to the author, it would only show him up: those obscenities I scrawled in the margin are far and away the best pieces of writing in that entire book


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Freyda



Joined: 04 Jan 2009
Posts: 425



PostPosted: Wed Jan 13, 2010 10:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

TheRejectAmidHair wrote:


I guess I lead a sheltered life, but I had no idea books so bad could be published.


You need to stay in more.  Wink


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Chibiabos83
Site Admin


Joined: 19 Nov 2008
Posts: 3362


Location: Cambridge, UK

PostPosted: Wed Jan 13, 2010 10:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

TheRejectAmidHair wrote:
those obscenities I scrawled in the margin are far and away the best pieces of writing in that entire book

You're being very harsh - writing the copyright stuff on the back of the title page takes skill and artistry, you know.


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Freyda



Joined: 04 Jan 2009
Posts: 425



PostPosted: Wed Jan 13, 2010 10:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

TheRejectAmidHair wrote:
As for the other reviews it got, let us just say that they are not, perhaps, from readers with the most sophisticated of tastes. No, let us not say that. That would be offensive. Let us just say instead that I am a literary snob,


I would agree with that...not the last part, of course! I think if readers/reviewers limit themselves to genre fiction that is not very demanding they may well find the writing convincing and absorbing. But the review Caro quoted sounded fairly erudite, not the sort of language I would expect from an habitual reader of "lite", fluffy fiction. Maybe that proves I am also a snob?

"Shadow of the Wind" really was a worldwide best seller. Like Himadri, I thought it was utter tosh, and very dated (pre-war style?) tosh, too. I know one or two people who rate it as their best book ever. These are not "stupid" people, but they are not at all well-read. I feel this is always reflected in top favourite lists that are open to the general public. People who read very few books in a liftime are still drawn to casting their votes and that is why one ends up with Lord of the Rings etc. at the top of polls. While I never vote for anything, because I think these lists are a little invidious.

[I do use my political vote, much good it may do me. Hundreds of women in Holloway Jail with forced feeding tubes...I owe them that much. And that poor racehorse!  Sad  Wink  I watched the film about the Obama election the other night, thousands standing in line to vote, like something in an African country where people value it and risk a lot to use their democratic right.] Sorry, I'm getting completely off topic.


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TheRejectAmidHair



Joined: 19 Nov 2008
Posts: 3864


Location: Staines, Middlesex

PostPosted: Wed Jan 13, 2010 2:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

To be serious for a minute…

While I think it is true that it requires intelligence of a certain type to appreciate literature, it doesn’t follow that those lacking appreciation of literature, or those for whom literature does not play a large part in their lives, are necessarily unintelligent. For instance, one of the most intelligent people I have ever come into contact with was my supervisor when I was a postgraduate student. He was a professor, and a quite brilliant mathematician: merely being in the same room was enough to give me an inferiority complex. And yet, when it came to films, his preference was for the most trite and simple-minded B-movie westerns. Sit him down in front of a cinematic masterpiece by Renoir or Bergman or Ray, and he’d get bored: he much preferred some shoddy piece of tat featuring Randolph Scott or someone. Does that mean he was unintelligent? Of course not. But it doesmean that, for what it’s worth, his taste in films wasn’t particularly sophisticated. Similarly with books. If someone thinks that The Shadow of the Wind is a wonderful novel, that’s their opinion and of course they’re entitled to it. Holding that opinion does not mean they are unintelligent: for all I know, they may be intellectual giants in their particular areas of expertise. But it does mean – once again, for what it’s worth – that they do not have a particularly sophisticated taste when it comes to literature.

As for snobbery, much depends on definition. For many, it seems, the mere fact of liking James Joyce and disliking Dan Brown makes one a snob; the mere fact of thinking that certain works have inherent merit that raises them above certain other works makes one a snob. Faced with this sort of thing, I generally find it simpler just to admit to being a snob: it saves a lot of time.

Personally, I don’t think there’s anything snobbish about saying that The Shadow of the Wind is pisspoor stuff: to me, that is mere statement of fact. And if challenged, I am prepared to provide detailed reasons and arguments, as I did some time ago on this board to support my opinion of Dan Brown’s writing. But this is not to imply that those who like The Shadow of the Wind or The Da Vinci Code are necessarily stupid: that would be snobbish, and is no more reasonable than to say that people who like Randolph Scott cowboy films are necessarily stupid. But no, these books really aren’t very good. And if saying so makes me a snob, then fair enough: I can honestly think of worse things to be!

And as for polls of “best books” and the like, they’re good fun, but there’s really no reason to take them at all seriously.



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