About Reading [Poorly Written Books]

Sometimes it makes you want to pull your hair out, but it's worth it...usually.

There are two ways to learn how to write: by reading and by writing. Both of them are equally important. All it takes to get experience writing is a pen and paper or a word processor and a laptop. As for reading, you read all the best books you can get your hands on. Isn’t that enough?

I don’t think so.

I think a flaw in the way we teach English in America, at least in terms of preparing students to write their own stories and novels, is that we have a bias toward good books. Think about it, what did you read and analyze in high school? Shakespeare? Moby-Dick? Huckleberry Finn? Catcher in the Rye? Chances are, you read nothing but classics. Even if you had a progressive teacher who had you reading current books, I’ll bet they were still award winning and well-written.

There’s nothing wrong with reading good books. That’s how we as budding writers begin to develop our own voices and styles. We read them to see how they did what they did, so that we can one day write like them. From the good books we read come our aspirations and inspiration.

But that’s only half of the picture that we, as aspiring writers, need to be successful. Watching a master dance effortlessly through a mine field might take your breath away and inspire you, but it won’t do anything to show you where the mines are buried. Maybe one rare genius may be able to follow in their footsteps exactly and not blow herself up. But for the rest of us it can more helpful to watch someone else step on a mine so that know where it’s buried.

That’s where poorly written books come in. Notice I don’t call them bad, because I believe a book can be at once both good and poorly written. To me, a bad book is one that fails to meet its own expectations. Books like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey, despite being written with all the grammatical understanding of a gerbil, are, I would argue, good books. I certainly don’t enjoy reading them, but many, many people do. And that’s all those books want for themselves. They’re not meant to be literature, to withstand the test of time and be this generation’s Sound and the Fury. They’re meant to be the potato chips of the literary world, consumed quickly and without thought, and by anyone’s count they’ve certainly succeeded at this.

But they are still poorly written, earning their success in spite of their writing as opposed to because of it. Books like this can get away with being poorly written, but they don’t have to. And these authors all make a lot of the same mistakes.

So even though it can be painful, read them. Learn from their mistakes so you don’t make the same ones in your own writing. You may not enjoy yourself, but I think your writing will be better for the experience. After all, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

What do you think? What are some of the most poorly written books you’ve ever read and did you learn anything about how not to write from them? I’ll share some of my own experiences later. I’m even thinking of making a podcast reading and critiquing Fifty Shades if that would be something anyone is interested in (I’m certainly not looking forward to the idea but I think it’s worth doing).

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247 comments on “About Reading [Poorly Written Books]

  1. Sorry, but I just don’t get the mass appeal of writing (50 Shades…) that denigrates women and also somehow appeals to women??? With poor writing to boot…I’m one confused guy 😉 Thanks for your blog post!

    • Honestly I’d like to know what that’s about too. Would it have been as popular without the S&M side of it? Or if the woman were the dominant one? Maybe someone who enjoyed it could shed some light on the matter.

      • Its really a bit hard to explain what’s so attractive about those books, but I personally found it appealing because, whilst I whole heartedly agree that the books aren’t written very well, they encompass the epitome of female attraction in Christian Grey. Lets face it, he’s hot and the fact he’s ’emotionally damaged’ appeals to a woman’s caring side. I think its got such a broad appeal because, for me, I loved their love story outside of the bedroom much more than what was going on inside. Once you’ve read one sex scene the others all kind of follow suit, and even though I enjoyed them, the thing that kept me reading it was how their relationship developed and how he opened up himself to her.

        Whilst I can’t speak for all women, what I’ve found through my own and my friend’s experiences is that there’s an element of all women that do love being dominated, I mean its sexy as hell and to be honest it shows a great amount of trust. you’d only want to do that with someone who you trust enough not to take it too far or hurt you, and in doing so it makes the man seem ultra… masculine?

        But anyway that’s my two cents. Its escapism in the best form, so even if you are an independent women who wouldn’t be someone’e submissive (which I think the majority of the readers of these books are, somehow I don’t see all the millions reading this book bending down on there knees ready to get whipped in the bedroom lol) it lets you have a glimpse of what it would be like to be with someone who was so… in control.

        And ultimately, women love to get a guy to open up to them, its a sense of accomplishment, and Christian Grey is changed by Ana Steele – what women honestly wouldn’t want to change an emotionless guy into one who’s head over heels for them?

      • Thanks for sharing. You raise some great points. About the whole bit about domination, I think in some cases it’s precisely because the readers would never do that in real life that they enjoy it in their reading. I know for myself, reading can be a way to experience the things I never will or can in real life. That’s why I tend to gravitate toward fantasy and science fiction. It’s a window into impossible worlds. This could very well be just another shade of that.

      • I hate to refer to formal studies and statistics to illuminate what is after all a psychological and spiritual sort of issue, but I think there’s a place for cold hard facts too, and the fact of the matter is that more marriages break up (in reality) because people go in with the expectation of being able to change the other person than not. What I’m saying is, in the Shades of Grey series, BOTH people go into the relationship expecting to be able to change the other person. I suppose there may be a few relationships somewhere in which people who are very different manage to compromise about the changes they each want to implement, but as far as we have any experts in our culture, they tell us that the marriages and relationships that work the best work because the people go in accepting who the other person is from the very beginning, and not trying to change them. I know, you could quote Mark Twain to me and say “There are lies, damned lies, and statistics,” but to some extent statistics are right, too: loving a person IS accepting them for who they are and not looking to make revisions that suit you better.

      • I definitely see where you’re coming from, and yes a successful relationship is definitely one where you’re willing to accept that the other person is not going to be everything YOU want, cause well, they are their own person. However, where I will disagree is that the way Ive always seen things is, a successful relationship is one where you’re willing to make changes in yourself, for precisely that reason. In the same way that the person you’re with isn’t going to be everything you want, you’re not going to be everything they want. And being open to compromise on things is the key to a long standing relationship. Yes, in an ideal world you should love someone for who they are, but if you plan on spending your life with someone you have to realise that both people need to adapt to each other, and grow together. Two people unwilling to change are inevitably going to come to loggerheads over something?

        Having said all this, I think there’s also a limit to the degree of change, and of course you shouldn’t compromise your principles. Im thinking more along the lines of one person in the relationship being a stubborn and realising that that’s not gonna cut it if they never back down.

        And as for reading being the opportunity to experience something you wouldn’t actually do, I completely agree 🙂

    • I can’t speak for all women, I can barely speak for myself on the matter. I’m simply just not interested in this genre however I wouldn’t disparage anyone for their love of it either, at least not anymore. I was rather judgmental and outwardly so until I watch the movie “Quills”. I don’t remember the names of the characters, or the exact words or what was supposed to be meant by them, but what I heard, what I got out of it was when the priest ask the serving girl, handmaiden, the other main character why she like reading the stories, she said something to the effect that she imagines being these wicked wicked women and doing these horrid things and it made her feel good about herself, knowing that she was better than these women that she read about. I’m sure that there are a thousand other reason why there’s such an appeal and demand for 50 Shades of Grey, Twilight and whatnot, but this is the one reason that appeals me. 😉

      • That’s an interesting thought that I’ve never really considered. Usually I think of characters, at least main characters, as embodying the traits and qualities we aspire to have, rather than someone we can use to feel good about ourselves. I can certainly see the appeal of it, but do you have to sacrifice characterization to achieve this effect? Could you have a “strong” (in terms of well-developed and realized) character that still made readers feel this way?

      • And there in lays the challenge! … Goodness, can be a huge can of worms. … I’ll try to explain with my limited intellect and hopefully I can convey this somewhat convoluted thought.

        This is simply my opinion by the way …

        You shouldn’t have to sacrifice characterization, but you have to think about the audience. The audience needs to be able to identify with the character, find something in common with it, something more than just their gender, before they can aspire to the characters greatness. If generation after generation of women are told that they can’t aspire to or have nothing in common with, the character becomes just a character. It’s rather frightening to think that so many women find more in common with “50 Shades Of Grey” than they do with Margaret Brown AKA “The Unsinkable Molly Brown”. And the dear ‘ol battle axe was a real person!

        Anyway, I’m thinking that when women read these rather junk foody type novels and such, that they may think “Hey, yah know? I can do that! I can do that and do it better AND still be a good, a better person than that!…” The next thing you know she’s a superhero compared to these characters.

        So, that’s my 2 cents …

    • Nate says:

      This passage says a lot to me. If you read a poorly written book than you get tired of reading it so you don’t care about what you’re reading….

  2. I can’t get too far though a poorly written book. I’m such a grammar snob. I wanted so badly to read The Bourne Identity series but I just couldn’t do it, there were so many errors.

  3. fairydancer221 says:

    Reblogged this on Cat on the Bookshelf and commented:
    If we want to write well, we need to read both great and poor writing. The great writing gives us an idea of what good writing is. The poor writing shows us what isn’t good writing. To be a good writer, you need to know what is great and what is bad.

  4. I’ve been thinking about what is ‘good writing’ and I’ve decided that anything that makes me want to read the next sentence is ‘good writing’ – (I loathe bad grammar but like you said – only when it gets in the way). For example, ‘Silas Marner’ by George Eliot might be a classic and ‘well written’ but, for me, it is painful to read. I can read anything by George Orwell again & again & again. Both classics – but not equal in terms of “do I want to read the next sentence….”
    I read 4 pages of “Fifty Shades of Spew” – that was enough…more than enough….I did torture myself with ‘Twilight’ – so I think I’ve seen where the mines are buried!
    But I loved this post – you are spot on.

  5. anchoredrite says:

    Josh, very nicely put, and something I have also thought for a long time. I started reading 50 Shades and put it down for something more “literary” (A Word Child by Irish Murdoch, which I very much recommend to anyone who likes well-written stories). Now I feel the need to rise to the challenge and tackle it again! Every time I see bad writing I say to myself, “Hey, I can do better than that!” And then I want to go do it.

    One of the worst-written books I’ve ever read was the Nanny Diaries. Disjointed, repetitive, empty dialogue, etc. Still, it succeeded at being a salacious dish on Upper East Side life, which I think is why it was so successful.

  6. shemovesinherownway91 says:

    I’ve read the Twilight books and yes, the series is poorly written. But I think the hype around the books is encouraging younger people to read and hopefully, these teenagers will then start picking up more books which have been well written and, as they get older, they will find it easier to appreciate the difference between well written and poorly written books.

    Saying that, I really don’t think I could bring myself to read 50 Shades of Grey. Knowing that the people reading it are either Twilight fans or women over a certain age, basically wanting to read porn(my mum being one of them). From what I’ve heard, her portrayal of the main female character is a little unusual (a 22 year old graduate without an email address!?). And her description of a BDSM relationship is not entirely accurate. To be honest, I’m surprised her editor didn’t call her on these things and tell her to make it more realistic – a Mexican in Seattle, really?! She could have used any ethnicity. And it goes on and on like this. I really don’t think I could read it, without thinking how did you get this published, because if she can do it, then anyone can.

  7. What snobbery this blog post has created! I loved your post, but was put off and a little disturbed by all the comments. I don’t read to pick apart a book, to ask myself how well the characters were developed. Do you all really do that? Why? Maybe this is a blog for English teachers only and I missed that piece of information. Thanks to my English/Lit teachers of the past, I read for entertainment, because it makes me feel good and it relieves some of my stress . . Fifty shades was far more entertaining than some of the classics out there. I would hope most people do not choose the books they read based on the opinions and “reviews” of others – how boring life would be if that was the case.

    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

    • Thanks. When reading for entertainment we don’t consciously think about these things, or at least I don’t. And if we can get through a book without asking those questions then the author did their job well. There are times though when the way something is written jars us and pulls us out of the stories, and what exactly causes that is different for everyone. Some people like books written in old fashioned English and can’t look past a misplaced comma, others want fast, light reading that keeps the story moving and the pages turning even if the grammar slips a little here or there. No one is right or wrong in liking what they like. Everyone values something different in what they read and enjoy, and that’s what makes reading and writing worthwhile.

      We’re not all English teachers here. I actually teach physics and everyone is welcome and encouraged to share their opinions.

      • Perhaps another point to make about good and well-written fiction/poetry/essays/etc. is that good writing luckily is no longer a province only for the wealthy or privileged. More now than ever before, everyone can learn the basics of good writing, not only from teachers, but from good literary models. At one point in history, people had to pay just to belong to the equivalent of what today is a public library, and what today is for free! And if anyone is concerned about losing contact with his or her roots and his or her roots are what an elitist might call “of the people,” the concerned reader can always find a traditional writer or folklorist in the “demotic” mode to read. (I first came across the idea of the “demotic voice” or the “voice of the people” in fiction, by which is not meant bad writing but gritty writing in the realistic tradition which may rely on dialectal spellings, contractions, locutions, expressions, etc. in a book by Jeremy Scott called “The Demotic Voice in Contemporary British Fiction.” It’s an immensely useful book, and the ideas in it can be transferred to the American continent as well. I write about these ideas in a three-part post on my blog.) Anyway, we don’t live for a long time, and while we do, these days the literary world is our oyster! There are more good writers the world over and it’s easier to get their books now than ever before. Why not flatter our intelligences with the best?

    • Dear McIntire, I’m concerned that you feel it’s an issue of snobbery when people are concerned about what makes a book a good literary book. And I have a sneaky point to make: for someone who doesn’t care about style, correct rhetorical form, and good argumentative skills (all of which good fiction has, even in the imagery, a point argued by Wayne Booth in The Rhetoric of Fiction), you have an excellent way of writing and communicating your points.

  8. jesusfreakgirl says:

    Twilight is definitely on my list of poorly written books. Every time I pick up a poorly written book, I think about how I could write a much better book. That’s how I felt the entire way through the Twilight Saga.

  9. I know I’ve read books I didn’t enjoy…well I never finished them…but I can’t remember what they were. Congratulations on being freshly pressed!

  10. re3ecca says:

    People always critisized Enid Blyton books for being ‘poorly written’, but that didn’t stop them from inspiring me when I was a kid (and millions of others). Sometimes you just want a good story – how it’s written doesn’t always have to matter. Congrats on making freshly pressed 🙂

  11. charmaine151 says:

    Let me be brave and leave a few comments contrary to what most of you all think / feel. I am 43, married and a mom. Yes, I am one of “those” women of a certain age. I read the Twilight series in 2009, after having seen the first movie. I thoroughly enjoyed them. I am not a fan of paranormal, but the angst in Edward and Bella’s relationship really pulled me in. It inspired a trip to the Pacific Northwest in the fall of 2009, which I absolutely loved – what a beautiful part of the world. I would never have been inspired to start travelling (and especially to the States) if I had not read Twilight at that time. I guess I was just at a point in my life where it provided the impetus needed. Since then I have taken another trip to the States, and now I would love to live in the States. Twilight was the starting point for a whole lot of changes in my life. I am no longer a Twilight fan, the hype has been boiled dry and I have no desire whatsoever to reread the series. But it was what many of us (the “mass market”) wanted to read at the time. I have always been an avid reader, but the classics are not for me, despite trying a number of times to force-read them. I find them dry, boring and long-winded, but then I have never considered myself to be an intellectual or academic. I read about things that I can relate to, things that I can dream (or fantasize) about happening to me, for the emotion is evokes in me and to understand what pushes my buttons. I also discovered 50 Shades on my Kindle last year, well before it went viral. Again, I loved the first two books, so much so I made my husband read them. He is very intellectual, and did find them “mildly” amusing while forcing himself to read page after page. It wasn’t his thing at all but it was mine and it helped him understand me better and provided us with many interesting conversations. 50 Shades helped me to be more adventurous and less sexually inhibited (which thrilled my husband :D). At that time in my life, it too was something I needed. It was a great starting point and I am still on that journey. Apologies if these comments are off the point of the post of why you should (try to) read “poorly written books” but I felt it important to add my two cents about why “those books” were good for me. Thanks for taking the time to read my comments and apologies for any and all grammatical errors!

    • Dear Charmaine151, Though I thoroughly disagree with your choices of fiction, I very much admire the frankness and forthrightness with which you confront the issues of why you like what you like. Your reasons are not for me, they are not mine, but they are good for you, I can see that. Have you ever thought of tapping your own creativity (i.e., joining a club which alternates reading books together and writing fiction and poetry)? I think you might find that you have a very legitimate voice. P. S. This isn’t an opinion in a vacuum–I’ve taught creative writing before.

      • charmaine151 says:

        Thank you for your comments, they are MUCH appreciated (and for not lambasting me for my choices, but choosing rather to strongly disagree :D). Perhaps I should have mentioned that top of my list of great reads are books like Faking It and Ordinary World by Elisa Lorello and The Crossroads Cafe by Deborah Smith. These stories certainly have more depth than the stories of Twilight and FSoG, but I am not qualified to critique them in terms of how well they are written. I have (very) recently started blogging, to see if I am capable of writing in an interesting and captivating way. At the same time, I am using my blog as a vehicle through which I can chronicle the various challenges I have faced in my life. Having done a few posts, I have now switched on the proofreading facility, and much to my horror my writing is FULL of grammatical errors, particularly the use of passive voice and complex expressions! So I am spending much time editing what has already been published (and learning in the process), before I get back to focussing on content once again. I am reading a lot of the Freshly Pressed posts to broaden my views on things I know nothing about and to learn more about different writing styles. I also plan to look into on-line courses that teach the craft of creative writing. I am hoping I can untap whatever creativity is lurking within and determine if I am capable of producing anything worthwhile. Your comments are very inspiring to a “wanna-be”, thanks once again 🙂

  12. What defines “well written”? What defines “poorly written”? Is it about syntax, grammar,& spelling? If so I think Dr. Suess would be in a lot of trouble. Is it about relaying, emotion, thought & description, or evoking emotion,& thought? Some combination thereof perhaps? Just because it’s a classic doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s well written, and it doesn’t mean that something like 50 Shades of Grey won’t be a classic. My opinion of course … People tastes and tolerances change so why can’t the writing? I’m certainly off topic a bit. I guess what I’m proposing is that instead of “Well written” and “poorly written”, read things that you like and read things you don’t like to help develop your own writing style that you are happy with. 😉

    • In my opinion it’s a combination of grammar and actual story mechanics (descriptions, characterization, pacing and plot momentum, things like that). I would argue that the grammar is actually the less important of the two, and only becomes an issue if it detracts from the readability or enjoyability of the novel. I can forgive and even enjoy a novel with a good, well-presented idea but bad grammar, but the best writing in the world won’t make help me enjoy a novel without substance or one that runs in circles around its point.

      It’s entirely subjective what each person considers good writing and poor writing, and that’s what makes these discussions so interesting.

  13. andy says:

    Thank you for sharing ,i like nice post

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  15. MarlisB says:

    Several years ago I was once again in the library with my daughter. We tend to go there once a week and stagger out with over-burdened bags. That day she had chosen several books which I felt were poor choices, and I asked her to go and exchange a few of them with something better. When she asked me why I gave her this analogy.

    ‘Books can be classified like beef. There is your poor quality ground beef. The stuff shaped into meatloaf, or at worst morphed into sloppy joes, or stirred into hamburger helper. Then there are sirloin steaks, prime-rib, or the much loved and elevated, filet mignon. Finally you move into Kobe beef. And to top it all off, you get Steak Tartare.’

    A librarian had apparently listened to this exchange, shook her head, and said :’I’ve got to remember this one.’

    Frankly, as a busy, homeschooling mom, and business owner, I find myself rarely having the energy to read much more than a good meatloaf lately, with a few sirloin thrown in here and there. And I gravitate mostly towards non-fiction now-a-days. But I must admit to thoroughly enjoying your post. Well written and formulated. Thank you! I will ask my daughter to read it. This is her book review blog btw, http://domuslibri.wordpress.com/

  16. When we go to the bookstore, my sister will have armfuls of books about fashion, romance, cupcakes…the like. Not horribly deep or emotional, just light, fluffy, and (sometimes) kinda boring. Some have bad storylines, some seriously need an editor, and some are just plain boring. I, on the other hand, have a harder time finding books I really love. But when I do find one, I go completely crazy for it. For example, my favorites are Harry Potter and The Hunger Games. Why? Because they’re emotional, and make me think. They leave an impact on me. They evoke all these emotions that I didn’t think I had. I’ve never even tried to read Twilight, and I’m nowhere near close in age to an adult. Something about an emotionless teen girl, a sparkly vampire man-popsicle, and a wolf guy attracted to a baby is unappealing to me, but I suppose others may like it. I’m probably a bit different compared to some gals my age, but I think that’s a good thing. My dream is to make a book (or books) that leave an impact on people and fall in love with the story. I learn from reading to see how I can achieve that. It’s strange, but it’s kind of empowering to see what can get published. I say to myself, “If *insert random author here* can get THAT published, I can get published one day, too!”

  17. wow your post has caused such commentary! very well written though. Another one of my fav bloggers has written about FSOG as well. I enjoy reading other’s opinions about books and writings

  18. sunbeam23 says:

    Reblogged this on Muguet's Blog and commented:
    I’ve tried to reblog this one for a couple of days already but the app wouldn’t do it, so I had to wait until a PC was in sight. Here is a very to-the-point summary of the constant struggle to find new literature that makes you go ‘Wow!’

  19. It´s not an original answer but the Da Vinci Code has to be up there. It was the weird digressions into gun porn that got me. It was never enough for Dan Brown to say the French policeman had a gun, it always had to be “and the French gendarme stroked sensually the cold barrell of his Heckler and Koch carbine with optional telescopic sight…”, And in Dan Brown´s stuff the descriptions of places are quite bizarre. Lots of description, that sounds really well researched, of famous places like Seville cathedral in one novel that turns out just to be totally made up and bears no relation to the real place.

    I´m sure there´s worse out there but it was certainly a very annoying read….

  20. Well written Josh. I enjoyed reading it. The books you mention are strictly for entertainment with a secondary school audience in mind. Sadly, Twilight is on my daughters HS literature summer reading list. And, yes they plan to analyze it. I do wish the required reading was something that was more cerebral.

  21. Lily Gee says:

    Thanks for the thought-provoking post, Josh. Like MarlisB’s daughter, I see books as foods: some are savory and delicate, while others are bold and salty. The occasional Big Mac is fun, and it makes me appreciate the next filet mignon.

    As a writer and engineer, I can appreciate the value of studying others’ imperfect work. In To Engineer is Human, Henry Petroski points out that that failure helps define where the ‘edge’ is. I read a variety of books, well and poorly written — recently, a James Patterson novel, replete with stereotypes and predictably noble action, just to see what the masses devour; a classic Charles Portis Western to immerse myself in a well-written voice; a cheesy paranormal romance, to see how implausible the science will get, and how raw the emotions; Donald Westlake, to revel in subtle comic genius; Margaret Atwood, to gape at the power of word images and of unspoken but glaring truths. Sometimes I’m just reading for amusement, and other times I’m reverse-engineering the book to see how it works (or doesn’t).

    Good writing, to me, makes itself invisible. If I’m caught up in the story, caring about the characters, it’s good writing. A grammar error reminds me that I’m just reading; similarly, a clumsy characterization or groaningly obvious plot twist can rupture the spell.

    In any case, I don’t look down on anyone for their taste in reading. While I favor and praise good cuisine, even mediocre cooking offers nourishment.

  22. shemovesinherownway91 says:

    I’ve written a post about the issue I have with the 50 Shades Trilogy – It covers a lot of similar things.

    http://shemovesinherownway91.wordpress.com/2012/09/15/why-i-dont-like-50-shades-of-grey/

  23. Jessica says:

    Personally, as a woman involved in the BDSM lifestyle, I would NEVER have 50 Shades on my curriculum. What’s portrayed as an S&M lifestyle is so far from the actual truth, and let’s face it, Christian is an abuser. When I decide on a book for my students, I take into account all of the underlying messages the novel gives (in this case, beyond the junk food fantasy), as well as the ethics surrounding the book. (I’m sure you’ve heard about EL using her TV executive clout to peddle this book on programs like The View and The Today Show). Most importantly, I decide on whether this book could lead to some adverse effects in some readers. Honestly, part of my responsibility as an educator is to not only expose students to a wide variety of writing, but to keep them safe. Will I give assign books that are disturbing and/or badly written? Absolutely. Will I assign books that perpetuates falsehoods about a subculture and at worst, glorifies abusers? No way. I don’t know if I’d ever forgive myself if an abuse victim in my class had an adverse reaction to this book (more flashbacks, etc.). There’s no point to this book other than bad writing and shock value, and I can find another example of both without the underlying ethical ickiness.

  24. I completely understand why, to be a good writer you must have tasted good and poorly written books, I just have trouble picking the poorly written ones back up again, it will take a lot of effort but this is something which I think can be really interesting. Thanks!

  25. Mykaela says:

    While reading this, a thought came across my mind of a common saying. The common saying is “Do as I say, not as I do.” I thought that related because Josh Craig said to continue to read the poorly written book to learn from the mistakes that the author makes so one doesn’t do that in their own writing. It is saying that do what you are told to do, the correct way, but don;t follow in someone’s footsteps of doing the wrong thing over and over again. Being a high school student, I believe we learn more so how to use proper grammar in communicating, but not the correct techniques how to be a good writer. There are rules that we have no idea about, but I understand being young and still have years of learner to do that those skills and rules will soon come about. I agree with the person above who repeats what Josh said about to be a good writer, one must experience the good and bad of writing. Reading a poorly written book, I believe gives an author a lot of insight on what not to do to have a good successful book.

  26. Taylor Olson says:

    I definitely agree with Josh Craig that many books are written very poorly. I like the idea Josh made with one needs to continue reading and expand the books they read to be able to not make the mistakes other authors make when writing themselves. He used good examples of poorly written books such a Twilight, but many people like to read simple and easy books. I think I need to expand the genres of books I read so I don’t make the same mistakes as some authors do.

  27. […] Josh Craig’s interesting post about reading poorly written books makes some excellent points. I read a lot of books and interacting with and thinking critically of them helped improve my own writing as I discovered (and continue to discover) what has worked and what has not worked for other people. If we only read the best written books do we really have a broad understanding of writing?  Does bad writing necessarily equal work that bad? Not necessarily. I enjoy many types of entertainment, even if it isn’t the best written. This goes for television and movies as well. What about when you do find that poorly written piece of literature you didn’t even find entertaining, what is the best way to write a good bad review? This article discusses some of the finer points of critiquing other people’s works. [via RIASS] […]

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