In Defense of Bad Books

Originally published August 2013

Are you talking smack about “Flowers in the Attic?” Step off.

Bad books are the Suzy Qs of your literary diet—your guilty pleasure. Everyone pretends they haven’t read them, but you KNOW you have.

It was this recent survey by Book Riot that exposed me for the good-book-lovin’ fraud that I am. Of the books listed in the rundown, I’ve read:

The first of the Fifty Shades trilogy: This? Was my most popular book review back on my original blog. So people can tell me they didn’t read this book, but y’all know you did. And quite honestly, it’s not a good read. Not because it talks about fisting as even a remote possibility in the bedroom or sex chamber or boat house, but just because it’s just not a good book. But it is fun to rant about. People like talking about smut.

The DaVinci Code: This? Caught me off guard, as I think it’s pretty good. I think it gets a bad rap for just being the “it” book several years back. Sure, it’s over the top—but that’s what makes it so darn fun to dissect with your book lovin’ friends. It;s not Robert Langdon’s fault he’s arrogant — he’s just written that way.

The first of the Hunger Games trilogy: Forced to read by my tween, at bedtime. See? Bad books bring kids and parents together, too. Actually, like The Code, it’s not really that bad — people have just turned the series into something that’s fun to hate on.

The Bridges of Madison County: Oy. This was bad. But everyone read it, so you kinda had to just to see what people were either raving about (Tru wuv!) or ranting about it (Sap! Schmaltz! Gah!). I think the wheels left the rail when they tapped Eastwood as a romantic lead in the movie version. Nothing kills a romance faster than a miscast.

Flowers in the Attic (and all its craptastic sequels): Hey now. This is where I stand up at my Bad Books Anonymous Book Club and say proudly, I LOVED THE FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC SERIES. The Dollanganger crew and all their batshit crazy had me fully entertained for several summers back in the 80s. Arsenic, incest, badass ballet dancers, sweet doctors with dead psycho wives. It was the Pretty Little Liars, Gossip Girl and One Tree Lane of my generation.

Anne Rice’s ode to Sleeping Beauty porn: You want even more disturbing, but better written erotica than E.L. James? Give this series a whirl. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Bad books entertain. Bad books engage. Bad books help us appreciate the good ones. Bad books are dangerous. And bad books are FUN. Ain’t nothing wrong with adding a little writing to your Washington Post diet. Stand up and say it—what’s your favorite bad book?

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