To Trash, or not to trash.

Last week was a blah kind of week for me. I was fighting a cold, and the kids were fighting a cold, and nobody was getting much sleep.

I cannot survive if I am not reading, and just having finished Atonement, I needed something light. With this is mind, I ended up with two books which I normally would not have read.

One chic lit, another YA vampire (the first one other than Twilight for me that I have read, and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about). I will not name them, as I believe in the saying ‘if you have nothing good to say, don’t say it at all.’ That being said, one person’s garbage is another ones treasure! (look at me – I am full of cliches today!)

The chic lit book I read in two sittings. Really, I just perused it, skipping ahead, something I normally never do – I like to slowly digest a book. The YA I read for the sake of it, cringing at times with the bad dialogue. Yet, I realized there must something in them that kept me reading. If they had been that bad I would have tossed them without getting to the end.

I realized it was the suspense in knowing how the resolution is achieved. Even if the plot runs thin, and the characters are cut-outs, the need to know how it all turns out overpowered my need for good literature. Even in trash, there is something to be learned about writing.

Do you read trash, and if so, what do you get out of it?

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22 thoughts on “To Trash, or not to trash.

  1. Jonathan Danz says:

    Nice post. I definitely need to read. My stolen moments throughout the day usually involve books. I usually read whatever the mood calls for. I have read several thrillers in a row when I could find nothing more substantial (at least to me). I read them because I know I’ll become engrossed and want to see how it all turns out. I’ve read a heap of Robert Ludlum, and even though they have many similarities, that man was the master of that genre.

    The way I see it: If I enjoy it, it’s not trash. It doesn’t have to War & Peace, it just has to entertain.

    • Thanks for coming by, Jonathan!
      “it just has to entertain” – I think you are right! It does not have to be mind altering, life changing.
      YOu mention stoeln moments. πŸ™‚ Mine often come in the form of reading or writing.

  2. This is hard to answer because, as you said, the identification of a book as trashy is subjective.

    I’ll just say I vary my reading from dense to light, but, for what it’s worth, I believe all the writers I read have been on the major best sellers list.

    But I’m not a literary snob. If you enjoy it, read it.

  3. This is a little off topic, but your last paragraph reminded me of how I feel about American Idol. The performances are often mediocre; most of the contestants are either too schmucky or too stereotypical; they could choose much better songs to sing. But, I can’t help myself – come January, I get sucked in because I just have to see who gets sent home and who eventually wins. Sometimes I enjoy it, but mostly I’m just curious and need to get to the end, like you felt with that novel.

  4. Great post and I like your approach to offering your comments without naming the books.

    I have a hard time reading fiction of the type you describe. Like you, if I have some curiosity, I cringe and skip. But often in books that fit that style I also lose interest in the plot because it’s so predictable.

    Right now I’m reading a novel to try to understand what the “psychological horror” genre is all about. The book is melodramatic in the extreme and riddled with cliches, but it’s keeping my interest and I do care a bit about the characters. So I guess it’s the whole continuum thing, I have a range, but it has limits.

  5. As writers we learn a great deal by reading other people’s work. There’s a lot to be gained by reading something that is well written but we can also learn by reading the bad stuff too. I don’t like to be critical of others work but it’s difficult not to form opinions. We all know what we like and what we don’t. and we all have our preferences.But I think that by reading bad dialogue, thin plot lines and characters that just don’t measure up we can hopefully improve our own writing.

    • I have learnt most everything about writing from reading,Laura. I do not have ba in lit. I just have read read read. And I read few books on writing, which acted as a springboard.

      • It would seem we have something in common. Many years ago I Read Phyllis A. Whitney’s book on writing and I believe that was was the most influential for me. Of course that was back in the beginning when I had the most to learn. Since then there have been many others along the way.

      • It is fun to come across so many writers on – line in this way! I am still adapting to it, Laura, and it gives me a little thrill πŸ™‚
        I do not know of that particular book – thanks, I’ll look it up!

  6. I used to despise books by Agatha Christie because one of the first books I read by her was really very bad. I can’t remember which one it was but I can still remember why I hated it and I still think it’s bad. For a long time this caused some friction between me and my stepmother who loves Agatha Christie’s books. But my wife is a big fan of the TV adaptations of her stories and having sat through about 50 of them with her, I started to admire Agatha’s creativity. I even read some of her books and found them to be full of shrewd character sketches and brilliant observations about how people interact. Then I read her autobiography and found it to be really gripping. In my view it’s the best thing she ever wrote. In it Agatha says she read everything. She wasn’t discerning at all. She read everything and she didn’t despise any of it.

    You can learn a lot from bad books. Brilliant books can be intimidating if you want to write. They show you what’s possible — or impossible, perhaps. Bad books can show you what to avoid and inspire you to write something better.

    The definition of what’s good or bad is very subjective. If you enjoy a book it’s probably not trash but there are some trashy books that are impossible to enjoy; I think you can also learn from these.

    In my father’s day John Creasy was one of the bestselling authors. Some of his books were reissued recently and I bought one just to see what it was like. By modern standards it was complete rubbish but it had an admirable fluency and readability. If you can write like that, I thought, people are going to read it.

    • Oh Miss Marple πŸ™‚

      I have not read any Creasey, but wow, what a record!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      You are right how at times ” Brilliant books can be intimidating ” but I also find them a wonderful inspiration. What can be done with words!

  7. worldcanwait says:

    With a young child, I have so little time to read for myself, much less write. When I read, I become completely immersed in the book & can’t stop myself. So I mostly just read my childhood favorites to my son. I don’t want to waste my precious time with something I’m not sure I’ll like.

    There are some books I’ve read, especially as a teen, that I am somewhat ashamed to admit I liked. Some books are written purely for enjoyment, and that’s fine. Different people like different things, so you can’t really classify anything as “trash.” Though we each definitely have some pretty strong preferences. It’s the same way with music & art. It’s all so subjective.

    I mostly read new books by my current favorite authors, and there are so many classics that I’ve been planning to read for years. I am tempted to read more popular books, just to see what people like, or what to avoid if it’s bad. πŸ™‚ But I keep pushing that idea aside in favor of the tried and true. I guess I’m pretty unadventurous. If there were more hours in the day, I’d probably get around to reading some “trash” eventually.

    • HI worldcanwait, and thanks for stopping in!
      One of the first set of books I can remember collecting as a girl was sweet valley high – can’t get much more embarrassing than that! Then, later, the whole Flowers in the Attic Series πŸ™‚

      I know how much time is factor when a young one is involved. My youngest just turned three, and I am not able to begin to have more mommy time. It will come back!

      • worldcanwait says:

        LOL! I was actually referring mostly to the Sweet Valley books. I really enjoyed them at the time. I also read a lot of very dramatic books where a main character usually dies. Never did read Flowers in the Attic though.

  8. I’ve been finding lately that I’m enjoying more books by debut authors than by the seasoned commercial authors who pump out books so fast there’s no time for revising or editing. I think there’s a general greed type attitude with some publishers that the readers just want the next book; it doesn’t have to be stellar in grammar, or even original for that matter. I don’t mean this for all commercial best sellers, but a lot of them anyway.

    Debut authors must try harder and it shows in their writing.

    • I hate it when that happens, Tricia….it is so disappointing.
      It has even happened recently with some of my favorite authors. It really throws me. I think I would rather skip a deadline than let something so weak go to publication. Of course, who knows…

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