Why I’m Reading a Bad Book

- by Dianne Drake

thCA3JT4JF_copy I’m reading a really bad book right now. Probably the worst book I’ve laid eyes on in the past couple of years. The writing is bad, grammar is wrong in too many places, the historical facts are way off, the historical liberties taken reach way too far for comfort, and we’re not talking by just a little bit. The writer obviously didn’t do his homework. Either that, or he totally underestimated his reader’s knowledge.

Yet, in spite of the glaring errors, which seems to be about every other page, and in spite of the fact that I vow I won’t read on, I do anyway.

Why haven’t I just put it down and moved on to something else? I honestly don’t know. The farther I get into the story the more this book promises to frustrate me. Judging from what I’ve read so far I truly don’t believe the author is skilled enough to carry out a decent ending, and I can pretty much predict the corner he’s going to write himself into. But I’m a third of the way through, still threatening to quit and still reading.

So, why don’t I quit?

The first answer is simple. I paid good money for this book. It wasn’t one of the freebie e-books that are so abundantly offered these days, wasn’t even a cheap e-book. It was a top-cost e-book for which I paid enough that I want my money’s worth, even if that means more frustration all the way through to the bitter end. Does that make me cheap? Yes and no. Yes, because I resent having paid for this drivel. No, because I’m a little bit habitual, having been raised by the daughter of a depression-era mother, who never threw away anything if it had a purpose, and who certainly never invested in a book without reading it through cover to cover.

My mother learned from her mother, and I learned from my mother. We didn’t waste food, we didn’t waste resources, we didn’t waste money. I still don’t. I was married probably twenty years before I could actually leave food on my plate without feeling guilty. My house is always dark, no extra lights on if they’re not needed. And I can’t tell you how many “bad” books I’ve read only because I bought them. Sad thing about that is, life’s short, and there are so many good books to read. But old habits die hard, don’t they?

So, that’s my first answer. The one that doesn’t come from a writer. The second answer comes from the writer in me. My husband accused me of wanting to hang in just to see an epic fail. I think it’s the other way around. I want to see this book turn into an epic success. I’ve written myself into the same corner I’m predicting for this author. I’m sure that I’ve produced my own share of work that some reader has called it drivel. As writers, we all have. For me, though, I just want this book to succeed in the worst way. I don’t want to give up on it because I can imagine how long it took the author to write it, and I know how he must have slaved over the edits even though they didn’t turn out so well.

I never want to see a book fall flat because I’ve literally been there, done that with my own books and I know the process intimately. So even in a book where I see so many wrongs, I really do want it to right itself by the end. And that optimism is also something I leaned from the daughter of a depression-era mother who always looked at things on the bright side. Having food on the plate is a blessing. Having a light to turn off and on is a miracle. And having the money to buy a book is good fortune many do not have.

So for now, I’m reading a bad book and keeping my fingers crossed, because the author deserves that much from me. I really do want to see him cross the finish line, maybe not in first place, but solidly in the pack.

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