All set? Okay ...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?
So this didn't turn out really to be "a list" but instead the thoughts of forty academics on the subject of bad books. What do you think about the books that received mention? Jacket Copy says "Really? If they're the worst, what's the best?" It's true that some "classics" get mentioned -- The Little Prince, Women in Love, Their Eyes Were Watching God, The End of the Affair -- but I think most books can be argued as "bad" for some reason or another.
So, another question? Are there any books that are unequivocally, unarguably "good" books? I think Gerald Graff puts forward an interesting question as well --
It has always seemed strange to me that bad books aren’t a prominent part of our school and college literature curriculum. How do we expect students to learn to tell the difference between good and bad books unless we assign some bad ones for comparison? Don’t you need badness in order to know goodness?I think my own definition of "bad" books definitely includes this category, as described by Sue-Im Lee --
I can only conclude that those who have determined the literature curriculum have been more interested in protecting the good or great books from contamination—that is, in feeling virtuous about their own tastes—than they are in helping students understand what they read.
One breed of a bad book is a disappointing novel from an author for whom you harbor expectations. Previous encounters with this author’s novels have pleased you immensely, and you look forward to another opportunity. This opportunity comes surprisingly early and frequently, since this author publishes a novel every few years. But by the third novel, you experience growing indignation at the familiarity of it all.Or does it all just boil down to Liedeke Plate's idea that the addition of zombies to classics is what makes a book truly bad?
I think that Zahi Zalloua's thoughts were the perfect end to this article --
Bad books deliver on their promise. They lend themselves too easily to pedagogical use; they are saturated with purpose, conforming all too well to their readers’ expectations. They don’t take a risk; they don’t interrupt the numbing flow of knowledge and commentary. They are devoured (read once) and then discarded by an insatiable reading public. Is the state of bad books hopeless? Can they be “rescued”? Can they be reminded of their so-called literariness? Maybe. Maybe a bad book is in fact merely a mirror that reflects a bad reader—a reader who asks uncreative questions of a work. Or maybe bad books are really at their worst when they’re paired with such bad readers.Lost in thought,