Monday, September 12, 2011


I have been working out of town, with very sporadic internet access… so I am working on catching up with all your blogs.

I realized how subjective writing and reading is the other day. A good friend of mine suggested a book that he thought I HAD to read, so I suggested one in return and went and bought the one he recommended.

I couldn’t get though 15 pages, before I had to put it down… I nearly threw it in the garbage, I hated it so bad.

I am not going to reveal the name of said book, because it is fairly new and don’t want to cast a bad light on it, or to offend anyone who thinks it is good.

It’s a weird deal; if I hated a book you loved, it seems to drive a wedge between people.

I will tell you about an old book that caused the biggest augment me and my best friend ever had. It was: Lord of the Rings

I couldn’t finish the first book, it was slow, hard to get into… and plain boring. I hated it; I don’t know how anyone could like it. The movies were ok, but that’s about it.

And I am sure you might disagree, and all the more power to you… it’s what makes writing an art.

What I am trying to get at? don’t take ever critic to heart, you might have 10 people read your book, to find only one person really got it. Don’t change everything to fit all opinions, focus on the one that has the same taste you do—and work from that one most. I am only talking about subject matter and craft, the technical aspect of writing can come from most anyone versed in advanced story telling.

What’s your opinion?

Read any books you hated that other people loved?

Does it bother you if other people hate the books you love?

Thx for your support, and any comment you might leave!


  1. I totally agree with you! And I feel the same way about The Lord of the Rings, I couldn't finish reading it either. Tolkien, a great author, seemed to just drone on and on. I had friends who read them entirely and loved them, and that was that. I don't mind when I like/dislike books that others like/dislike because we all have different opinions, and if we can't remain as we are over opposing views, well then we'd better learn how to get along.
    Welcome back, and keep on keepin' on!

  2. I don't know if it bothers me when people don't like the books I like as much as it makes me sad! I do totally get it, though. And I think it's an incredibly important thing to remember when your book baby goes out into the world. Some people just aren't going to like it, even when others love it.

  3. My best friend and I are like this about Haruki Murakami. Whenever I was reading his book, I just keep wishing I was reading the non-translated version. Something just felt like it was missing, and I doubt it's that I just 'don't get it' because I pride myself on being a decently thorough reader.

    But my best friend loves his books. Absolutely loves them. She's read almost all of them, except, ironically, the one I've read.

    We're still best friends.

  4. Great post. Excellent point. I have read books that I thought were total crap and everyone I know loved them. It's a weird place to be. I've also read books that took my breath away that other people hated and I just could not fathom how they could dislike something so brilliant. That's part of the problem in trying to get published. You can be really good but if enough people going up the line (i.e. agent, editor, committee, etc) don't LOVE your book, you're not getting published. I think it's a double-edged sword sometimes. Not everything is for everyone. It's a saying to live by. On the other hand, you can be assured that there is a group of people out there who WILL love your book since peoples' tastes are so wildly different.

  5. Actually, I feel the same way you do about Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. I didn't "get" them. Actually, I probably "got" LOTR, but it was slow and dull and I was glad they tightened and lightened it for the movies. My husband, on the other hand, adores the series.

    It should be noted that I'm cool with people not liking what I like, and yet I'll defend my favorites like I would a good friend. I can't help myself.

    Harry is, for me, a stereotypical character that doesn't much interest me, but obviously he touches many people deeply. My sister and many readers I respect love these books. And, truthfully, more power to those that do. Why should anyone take your magic away?

    The thing is, no one can really tell what will touch another person, what will intrigue or entice or suck them into another world. Part of it is because we're all different and identify with different things. Part of it is that we all come from different backgrounds and perspectives.

    I had a teacher once tell me, with a sneer, I wrote stuff "anyone could read." Well, he didn't intend it for a compliment, though I took it that way, but I recognized it wasn't true. If you're a plot-driven reader, if you like pages of expansive description that paint a landscape with unmistakable color, if you like protagonists that are a little closer to the darkside than the light, chances are you aren't going to like my stuff.

    That's cool. There isn't a classic out there now that some student, some time, didn't groan to pick up and weep with joy to put down. Mark Twain hated Jane Austen's work with a passion, though I'd rather read her work than his (with the exception of some of his essays).

    I believe in taking criticism at face value, and being grateful for it, even if it isn't what you wanted to hear, even if they clearly didn't get it. I sometimes ask myself if I need to make it a bit clearer (and sometimes change it) or change the perspective to make mine clearer (a response that once went a long way toward making something better). But, if it's clearly a clash of what one looks for in a book, I note that and move.

    One can't win over everyone.

  6. I agree with you 100%. We all like different things. I don't get a lot of things, unfortunately. I get Mark Twain. Keep up the good work.

  7. This is a good way for me to find readers, actually. I know if they love both Harry Potter and Jane Austen, I'm likely to find a kindred spirit. If they love one or the other, well, it's a bit more iffy.

    LOTR wasn't a great set of books for me, though I adored the plot of it. I hate anything remotely boring... though I can choke through almost anything (learned that in graduate school). I tend to detest books by men about men, such as MOBY DICK and anything by James Joyce. Bleh. MOBY DICK remains one of my most unfavorite novels ever. I'm reading the unabridged COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO right now, and I'm about 5/6 of the way through. Some parts were long and complicated, but I'm still reading, and the plot itself--and the characters--are really getting fascinating. A bit of melodrama here and there, but that's okay. It actually reminds me a lot of Victor Hugo's books. Maybe I just have an affinity for French literature.

    Okay, now I'm running on... stopping now.

  8. I tend not to read as much as I'd like to, so I find that I don't recommend very many books, because the books I read are recommended to me. I don't think I've ever started a book I didn't finish, but there have been a few I definitely skimmed through.

  9. Great points, Jeff.

    No books are going to please everyone. There are a lot of books that people love that I find fairly uninteresting (this is more common than "hating" a book).

    And a lot of books that I like that others hate (including Moby Dick :).

  10. Not all books are for everyone. As a Fantasy writer I try to remind myself of that whenever I let someone who writes in another genre read my WIP. I think thrillers are fantastic in movies but I don't read them. The reason being that I when I read I like to be transported into fantasy worlds. Reality can be harsh enough without reading similar stuff. Just my thoughts. :)

  11. "It’s what makes writing an art."

    Exactly! You made such a great point, Jeff, and I think it's something we all need to keep in mind. :)

  12. Super post! One time I went to a conference and the speaker recommended this book that sounded absolutely awesome. I bought it and forced myself to read about 40 pages. Couldn't stand it...gave it to my Dad and he thought it was fantastic. Opinions and belly buttons, we all have them.

  13. I agree with you wholeheartedly. Writing is just like music and art. That's what makes it so great! Some people may like a book while others don't. But there's something for everyone to read... or write. Good post!

  14. I think that's the beauty of having so many different genres and writers available. What works for one person may not for another, but that's okay because there is so much to choose from.

  15. Good point. I've read some books that to me had no redeeming qualities aside from maybe the great font--and then discovered I had friends who loved them. There's really no accounting for taste. And it's not just in genres that tastes vary. There are books I thought were poorly written and there are still plenty of people that loved them and hate books I thought were very well done. That's what makes me think there's so much luck to this business--it's really about finding an agent/editor that loves your work and thinks they can sell it.

  16. I've had "WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU DIDN'T LIKE IT?!?!?!" conversations with friends, but never something that stuck. It's interesting to see how much people can vary on something. Interesting post, and good song choices. Sk8ter Boiiiii lol

  17. Personal preference is finicky. I slogged through The Passage and didn't really enjoy it, but I've read some awesome reviews. The same goes for anything written by John Twelve Hawks. The guy writes like a 4th grader.

  18. Awesome post. I've definitely started reading books and couldn't get past the first chapter (I force myself to go at least that far). It doesn't happen very often though.

    I don't get upset if someone doesn't like a book I like and I try to keep it to myself if I don't care for one, because like you said, lots of others are going to like it. :)

  19. It does hurt when people don't like my work BUT I prefer to be told the truth gently. :-) I truly appreciate that and I cherish honesty.

    No worries, Jeff. You and everyone else can post on my blog whenever you and they want to. No pressure at all. :-)

    I don't read the Lord of the Rings book because it is too complicated for me to understand it, but I do love the movies. Just not watch it often, hehee. My brother read the book and said he liked it but he didn't even finish it. He ran out of interest in reading, LOL!

  20. I've had arguments with myself about books. Sometimes I get swept away by emotions and forget to be critical (*cough Twilight cough*)and other times I sneer at a book because I've judged it by the cover.

    I'm not a perfect reader, and my opinion changes month to month, year to year. I guess that's why some authors never achieve fame in their lifetime, but are applauded after death for their genius.

    It only takes one person to call a book art for it BE art. But even if that never happens, we write because we're crazy artists and we can't help ourselves.

    Good luck!

  21. Hey, even when you say your internet is intermittent, you're still a better blogger than I am.

    And I totally know what you mean about books. When I love a book and I find out someone else doesn't, it does sorta drive a wedge. Well, more like a toothpick. I wouldn't call it a wedge unless they didn't like a handful of books I love. It's like someone saying they hate my friends, and that I can't tolerate, lol.

    ps LOTR is one of my favorites. HOW DARE YOU!!!! hahaha (insert toothpick in virtual friendship)

  22. It's the subjectivity that makes this business so difficult. Even my BFF and I, who write similar stuff in the the same genres don't agree on a lot of books. I don't think it would ever drive a wedge between us though. But it is great to have someone to make recommendations to me. I've found some great reads that way, as well.

  23. Hey Jeff,
    Interesting post and I too know all about sporadic internet, just lately. And thus, my late response to this posting.
    We certainly do have a wide range of book preferences. I can sort of tolerate Lord of the Rings. However and I guess you'd better keep this a secret. I cannot stand the Harry Potter books. I consider them boring and unoriginal. Now, what I just typed might be considered controversial. I just wonder why that would be.
    Take care and happy writing.

  24. I find that mood really effects how I read. Some books I really like took a few tries to get into because I just wasn't in the right frame of mind yet. So no need to push if you aren't feeling a book at the moment:)

  25. I think being a writer requires thick skin, certainly! But taking a critique seriously is also important. Just don't let it put you down I suppose.

  26. I totally agree with what you're saying here. What may appeal to one person may not appeal to another. One man's treasure is another man's transh, etc. Guess that's the reason there is such a wide variety of genres on the market. Good thing about books is there's something for everyone.

    FWIW, I also disliked the Lord of The Rings series, (they were dry and wooden) but really liked the movies. Interesting how a story can vary between cinema and the written word. Great post, lots of food for thought.

  27. Great post and I totally agree. I usually like the books my friends recommend but then again we have very similar tastes in what we like. But now my sister on the other hand, LOL...she and I like completely different sorts of books, and that is just part of life. :)