Thursday, July 3, 2014

30 Day Book Challenge! Day 2: Bottom Five

As early as I can remember trotting into the library and choosing worlds to discover from the neatly-organized volumes on the shelves, I can remember considering my mum's advice: "A good book is a book where bad is shown as bad, and good is shown as good. A bad book is where the two get tangled and confused."

Having had this insightful advice from a young age, I have very few regrets when it comes to books I have read. Yes, there were the careless volumes I would pick up at a friend's house when I was younger, or the occasional terribly-soured, never-saw-that-coming plot twist from my older years, but even so, I had to rack my brains for the answer to today's question.

Day 2: What are you 5 least favorite books of all time?

After some consideration, I selected five books which exemplify the characteristics which I dislike in books. I don't know that I actually abhor a single book I ever read...with the exceptions of ones I never finished.

~ Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, by Patrick O'Brian ~
Problem: Bad wasn't bad
This is one of those books I never finished, and actually threw away. See that picture on the front? That's the wonderful Russel Crowe from the movie adaptation of this book, which we as a family love. So when I chanced upon an old paperback in our local used book store, I bought it with no hesitations, trusting that it would, true to form, be better than the movie.
But it wasn't. It broke the book rule. It did not condemn sin, but laughed at it. I was heartbroken, because the author was obviously witty and I already knew I liked the story line, but it broke the rule, so in the garbage it went.

~ An Unlikely Friendship: A Novel of Mary Todd Lincoln and Elizabeth Keckley, by Ann Rinaldi ~
Problem: Poorly researched, confusing writing form
This, sadly, is the book to which I alluded in the last post, and which I shall not keep much longer. The standard it failed? Good research and clarity. While the second half about Elizabeth Keckley was not as bad, the first half about Mary Lincoln was, simply, terribly written. For one thing, the authoress contradicted herself several times on the age of Mary's siblings and order of birth. Additionally, the form was random and confusing, one moment told in third person, the next in first person, the next in a biographical tone. This could have been good, but Rinaldi did not do adequate homework.

~ Lorna Doone, by R.D. Blackmore ~
Problem: Lagged
This is actually a funny one for me to put up here, because technically, I like this book. That is to say, I like the story, which is very sweet. However, Mr. Blackmore does lag. A lot. For several hundred pages. While I greatly appreciated knowing the back story on various characters, detailed descriptions about the fog were just unnecessary.

~ A Man Called Outlaw, by K.M. Weiland ~
Problem: Clarity, grey morality
I don't need to hash through this book again. If you're curious on my detailed thoughts, check out my review from the last book challenge.

~ The Mandie Series, by Lois Gladys Lepard ~
Problem: Integrity
When I was little, I devoured the Mandie books. They were great mysteries for the young reader - not too scary, but still suspenseful - and highly relate-able, since the main character was a girl. :) However, after reading several of these "Christian" books, it began to nettle me that she would disobey her grandmother, get in trouble, and then merely recite a memory verse and everything magically became okay. It was like Scripture was her incantation to get away from the bad guys and get out of punishment for her disobedience. 
Considering the books when I was older, I realized the series was not truly Christian. It was your typical girl mystery series, with some verses sprinkled throughout in order to appeal to the Christian audience. In a session I attended at our Home School Conference in April, Israel Wayne hit the nail on the head: "Whenever an artist produces a piece of art contrary to his worldview, that is art which lacks integrity." This applies both to Christians producing immoral or hopeless art and to non-Christians adding religion into their art forms. Mandie was a series which lacked integrity.

What standards have you set in selecting your reading material?

1 comment:

Karlena Ludlow said...

I was surprised to see that you were posting the "bottom 5"; I wondered what books you were going to put on your list! I was pleasantly surprised to see your list contain books that were not horrendously bad nor evil (Mein Kampf & Freud were not listed). You seem to be saying that, sometimes, a book is bad simply because of the time you wasted reading it! That is so true and so challenging for me!
Thank you for giving me some food for thought. I have been pondering my reading choices in a new way ever since first reading this post!