What Books Do You Love to Hateread?

We all know those TV shows that we love to hate. We know the storylines are cliched, the characters are over-the-top, and the drama is cheesy, and yet when we flip by them when channel surfing…aren’t they so hard to resist? For some reason we keep watching, laughing at every ridiculous turn of the plot or dumb character moment. Why are these shows so fun to hatewatch? And do you have books that you love to hate-read?

I think there are books out there that fascinate us even as we know they’re not of the highest literary merit. Plenty of people read just this sort of book all day, in fact. Sometimes we read just for a little light entertainment. And we choose to overlook flaws in the prose or the character development or the realism, just so we can get through a rip-roaring yarn. There’s a reason these sorts of books seem to have a lot of emotional drama, and a lot of violence too; it’s because it’s immediately exciting, and not too difficult to think about.

So what kinds of books do you hateread? Do you read any of the endless series of teen lit set in high schools with posh kids? Do you read fantasy sword-and-sorcery epics that are a little formulaic or trite? Do you read books that don’t display the best gender roles just because you want something entertaining? I think there’s something that all of us hate-read from time to time. I find myself drawn to short story collections by young women authors, partially because it fits my demographic. Sometimes these collections are terrific, and sometimes they aren’t the best. I’m just not as discriminating in that area. Is there a book that you read guiltily, and does it feel a little like you’re taking a book vacation for a while?

I think indulging in a little hate-reading once in a while is okay. It’s not going to kill us, and it’s not going to take away from our enjoyment of truly meaningful literature. But it’s easy to fill up your limited reading time with these sorts of titles, whether they involve high school drama, teen vampires, or both. It’s harder, and more fulfilling, to delve into a work that challenges you, that takes a lot of work to get into, that may leave questions unanswered and ambiguity on the table at the end. These are the stories that keep rattling around in our heads long after reading; and the funny thing about hate-reading is that after the cheap thrill of reading is over, the story passes through our minds like water, leaving no trace. I want to be changed by every book I read, and hate-reading doesn’t change me, either for better or worse. 

So what books do you hate-read? Tell us about it!

One comment

  1. Michael Washburn says:

    In spite of my better judgment, I have read Stephen King’s The Stand a couple of times. As much as we may hate to admit it out loud, King has traits as a writer that appeal to many of us – he can write vividly at times, and he can spin a yarn, plus in this case there is the less obvious consideration that The Stand does have a message about social cohesion and societal outcasts. The two societies that spring up in the aftermath of the plague are both struggling, and they both include a character – Harold Lauder in the case of the “good” community in Boulder, and Trashcan Man in the case of the wicked Las Vegas community – who are gifted yet extremely difficult. They have rare talents and have contributions to make to their respective society’s greater good, but it is up to the community in question to look beyond the character’s egotism and immaturity and to recognize what he has to offer. In King’s vision, the society’s ultimate success or failure depends to a very large extent on whether it is able to do this.

    I have also enjoyed – as an adult – the novels Carrie, The Shining, Cujo, and Gerald’s Game, and the story collections Night Shift and Skeleton Crew.

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