Richard Ford once said that it takes as much effort to produce a bad book as a good book.
And as disheartening as that sounds, what Ford’s assertion might raise, and what most everyone who has attempted the task of a book-length work already knows, is the notion that effort alone does not ensure a book’s success, and that there are probably more ways for a good book to be overlooked than a bad book to never make it into print.
That said, what constitutes a bad book? Is it an overrated “good” book? Can an otherwise good author produce a “bad” book? Is the badness in style, in execution? Or is it in theme or outlook? Or is the notion of a “bad” book even comprehensible in the age of postmodernism, poststructuralism, and cultural studies?
Calling the question of “bad books” to the fore elicited—as might be expected—an overwhelming response. The forty responses below were selected to demonstrate the sheer variety of responses to what at face value seems a simple question. But as with most literary matters, nothing is as simple as it appears—not even the question of what constitutes a bad book.
From Eyal Amiran’s comments on the badness of Bond to Zahi Zalloua’s asking whether the state of bad books is hopeless, you’ll find that there’s a lot to think about when it comes to the question of bad books. Some of the comments you’ll find agreeable; others disagreeable. Regardless, after reading them we think that you’ll at least agree that there is just as much to say about bad books as there is to say about good ones.
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