Three Things You Can Do When You’re Reading a Bad Book

Given the amount of reading I do, I am extremely thankful that I end up reading mostly really good books. There are always a few that leave me with a bit of a “meh” feeling, but by and large there aren’t too many that have made me regret ever having read them.

Still, there are some that are just so awful that I don’t know quite what to do with them. And after I’m done, I find myself in an even more precarious predicament—I don’t want them on my bookshelf, nor do I want to give them away, lest they wind up on someone else’s. So what, then, shall we say, dear brothers and sisters? What can you and I do when we find ourselves reading really bad books? Obviously, burning them is not an option (unless you’re trapped in the wilderness and you need then for kindling, then it’s cool), but there must be something that can be done with them that doesn’t involve giving them away and risking untold irritation to other readers.

In order to help, I’ve come up with three thing you do when you find yourself reading a really bad book:

1. Mark it like you’re a high school English teacher. Nothing is more fun that whipping out a nice red pen (I like these ones) and crossing out whole sections of a book. Plus, it sometimes it helps to put a big fat “F” on the title page when you’re through. It’s cathartic.

2. Run a play-by-play on Good Reads. Your commentary not only allows you to vent your frustrations, but entertain tens of people (depending on your friend’s list) in the process! For a great example, check out Aaron Gardner’s play-by-play on this book.

3. Build a fort. With all the books about people taking trips to heaven and vampires dating werewolves, I could build the most wicked-awesome “princess castle” ever, as Abigail prefers to call them.

Or, y’know, you could just stop reading it. But where’s the fun in that?

Got another idea to add to the list?

Posted by Aaron Armstrong

Aaron is the author of several books for adults and children, as well as multiple documentaries and Bible studies. His latest book, I'm a Christian—Now What?: A Guide to Your New Life with Christ is available now.

Reader interactions

5 Replies to “Three Things You Can Do When You’re Reading a Bad Book”

  1. Michelle Dacus Lesley March 5, 2015 at 1:23 pm

    How come book burning isn’t an option? A couple of years ago, my teenage son went to an event where he received a promotional copy of one of Steven Furtick’s books. (He definitely won’t be going back to THAT event.) We laid it to rest with much pomp and circumstance in our chiminea in the back yard. (I don’t know if Canadian boys are this way or not, but Southern boys like to blow things up, set them on fire, shoot them for target practice, etc., lol) Better the book should burn than someone who reads and believes it :0)

    1. We have local bylaws that fine us for having fun. 🙂

      I avoid suggesting we burn books because of the negative connotations that come to mind (censorship, Nazis, and so forth). But that might just be me being too sensitive.

      1. Michelle Dacus Lesley March 6, 2015 at 9:20 am

        Nah, you’re probably right on that one. I didn’t think of it that way :0)

  2. Hilarious.  But really good ideas.  Thanks Aaron!  🙂

  3. I have such high reverence for books and when I come across a bad one it just drives me nuts! I live in China and so when I come across a book that is bad for whatever reason (poorly written, too steamy to pass on to a Chinese friend because it will only perpetuate the stereotype that all we westerns do is take our clothes off with whomever — why did someone waste luggage space and then pass on that book to me and now I have to deal with it!). You jokingly mentioned book burning, but I have done book tearing so that as I put the pieces in the trash the book is not going off to be rescued by a trash picker in one unit — this increases the likelihood that I really have gotten it out of circulation. BUT I like your idea of marking pages and writing comments!

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