Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Read Bad Books

I’m assembling a reading list for one of my classes when I had that moment that every writer fears –okay, every writer who teaches fears: I have only read a few books in the last few months. How disappointing.

This comes on the same day that I actually stopped reading a book. I have -or had- this firm belief that a writer should always finish reading every book that he/she starts. After all, a writer empathizes with another writer. A writer can devote 300 pages to seeing where another writer came from, and a writer can have the commitment to supporting another writer by respecting what the other writer sacrificed for and struggled with.

I’ve changed my mind.

I knew it was going to be a trashy novel when I started it, and that’s exactly what I wanted to start the semester with, considering that as a colleague and I just said yesterday, we’re still “stunned” by the ending of the semester. I wanted to read trash. But apparently I have limits. 

I don’t really want to tell you what book was trash because my goal isn’t to destroy another writer. Another firm belief of mine is that you should make up your own mind regarding what you read.

But I do want to convey this to you: read bad books, especially if you’re a writer. While I’m taking this book off of my Steampunk reading list for the semester (I don’t want my students to read this and think that it’s an example of what they should be doing), I think it’s great for writers to read books with bad writing. You can catch every adverb, every moment of sensationalized overreaction, every moment of slow pacing, and so much more. You can see that what your creative writing teachers and mentor said is true.

Do it. Go and read a good bad book. And learn something.

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