Everyone here at The Prompt loves us some books. We’re a word nerd herd. We can all recommend great books TO read, but what about the books you should AVOID reading?
I have a Master’s degree in Publishing. That means I put myself under a small mountain of debt to learn how to make, market, and sell books. You should value my opinion at about $50,000.23. That’s USD.
Every time I put a book down to never come back to it, it feels like a betrayal of the author, the industry, and my own identity as both a writer and avid reader. It used to hurt, but—as with most things in life—I’ve become jaded and nothing affects me anymore. Huzzah!
Eventually I learned that life is short and I don’t have time to waste on bad books. Just because it got published doesn’t mean it’s good. There are much better books out there that deserve your time. Here are a few that you should avoid this summer.
I didn’t have to read this for school. I picked it up to try to have a conversation with my English teacher mother about her beloved JD Salinger. All I picked up was “god damn, old chap.” Why was this ever banned? Because a high school kid wanted to get laid so he tried to solicit a prostitute? I guess we’re all still pretending like Victorian whore houses weren’t a thing.
This started off as a kind of interesting story that included some 80s references. Then it became based on 80s references. Then it was just 80s references. The entire plot has been done to death, and the slight twist on how it’s done isn’t interesting enough to keep me going. While it didn’t end up being anywhere near an interesting book, I’m sure it made for a fun writing experiment.
I picked this book up out of boredom before a long plane ride. I figured it would make for a fun, interesting zombie romp. Instead, it made for a tedious romp that earned the honor of being the first book I ever flung across a room in disgust. Colson Whitehead is my mortal enemy and he owes me money for a book and emotional damage.
This is a bookshot. The concept of a bookshot is to separate the wheat from the chaff and leave you with only the entertaining bits. Given that the first book was mildly entertaining, I had some hope for an abbreviated version. I couldn’t bother getting through this tiny book, so I wrote down my guess at the ending, and had a friend check it out. Me: 1. Predictable writing: 0.
To my credit, I read exactly 400 pages. That should be enough to count as a book. But not according to George R. R. Martin. This book is both boring and predictable, and wants you to pay attention to too much stuff for a pay-off of exactly nothing. I have tried multiple times, but I must be literarily-constipated because I just can’t force myself to give a shit. Also, the sex stuff is too weird and makes me think someone needs to check Mr. Martin’s search history. Side note: I gave up on the show at the same point as I gave up on the book. At least I’m consistent!
Stephen King is the master of… really long and unnecessary details that lull you into a boredom, that ease you into feeling super creeped out. Given that it’s impossible to not have learned the story from being exposed to pop culture over the years, I didn’t feel the need to read about the details of a fancy hotel. Had I suffered through reading the entire thing, I would have gone just as insane as generic white male protagonist #5036246. And no, I didn’t cheap out by watching the movie first… or ever.
Does this make me a quitter? Yes. And I don’t plan on stopping now. Ain’t nobody got time for a bad book. Agree? Disagree? Hate me? Let me know on the social media platform of your choice! I genuinely want to hear from you! For real. I like gifs.