I hate ninety percent of the books I read. Yes, yes I know: hate is such a strong word, it’s all a matter of opinion, what’s good for the goose isn’t always good for the gander and other clichés, but whatever. Most books suck. (Either that or I’m terribly picky. The queen of finicky.)
Some are so bad I give up in the middle rather than slog through the whole thing. It’s as if the words on the page got together and decided that it would be fun to torment the reader: hackneyed dialogue, passive voice, adjective abuse. Sometimes the main character is so hateful or stupid or whiny I want to punch him or her in the nose.
Some are just meh (my vocabulary word of the week). My younger teen uses it to describe school. My older teen uses it to describe his younger brother. I also saw it in a book review recently. It’s the new “whatever.” It’s the kind of word that says: I didn’t have the energy to throw this in the trash so I might as well finish reading it. Meh books comprise the biggest portion of my ninety percent.
Some books are so godawful that I actively despise them. These I usually finish just so I can knowledgeably diss them to any friends/family/victims who happen to wander by. I say stuff like: OMG did you read [insert book title here]? It was WRETCHED. The heroine was a dog-walker who fell for her cousin’s meth addict half-brother/stepson! They boinked in the back freezer of a butcher shop in between sides of COW! (I try to make sure my voice grows more shrill with every phrase so as to press upon my listener the complete hideousness of the book.)
I’ve been reading for four decades (yes, frightening, I know) so I’ve read a LOT of horrible books. At some point I said to myself: honey, it’s time. Write a book and see if you can do any better. Since that elusive ten percent of absolutely brilliant writing happened so rarely (novels which are so excellent I cried with envy and despair as I read each delicious word), I decided I should write my own. I would write the book I wanted to read.
That didn’t go so well, as you can imagine. Do you know how difficult it is to avoid passive voice/hackneyed dialogue/adjective abuse? Filter words exist solely to pop up in the middle of any paragraph I write, laughing and giving me the finger. Then there’s the length issue. Do you have any idea how long an average novel runs? 50,000-60,000 words. Do you know how long I can sit still? [Insert unintelligible vocalization of derision here.] At one point I almost resorted to stapling my ass to my chair. I gave myself little rewards: chocolate if I finished a chapter (this did not help the size of my butt), more chocolate if I finished two chapters (butt still spreading), and chocolate with caramel if I finished three (yes, I know this is the opposite of what I should do if I want to be physically functional but too bad-I don’t need to walk to write). Eventually I got the hang of it and published some novels.
Unfortunately I still have the original problem: most books suck. Most books will always suck, especially those that seem fun to read at first. They will suck giant ass rocks and they will suck tiny little turds of poo. They will suck until the sun explodes and our planet collapses into a heap of molten carbon (at which point I’ll be like: Whoa. Fireworks. Then I will consume my body weight in chocolate until I explode. I mean, what the hell else is there to do when that happens?)
There’s only one solution to the “most books suck” problem: write more books (preferably ones that don’t suck).
Of course, I’m sure there’s someone out there who thinks my books suck.
No, really. They can go write their own books.
That don’t suck.
Me? I’ll be eating a ton of chocolate while I type happily into the sunset (which looks really, REALLY BIG right now. And HOT. Um.