So, going through my list of everything I read in 2016, I note there were a lot more misses than hits last year.  This, in itself, shouldn’t all that surprising.  After all, I’m an admittedly tough reader.  What IS surprising is the disproportionate number of misses resulting from my being foolish enough to place my faith in some of the Best of 2016 lists compiled by various major websites and critics.  Yes, of course, your mileage may vary – but I’m not talking about recommended or starred books that failed to live up to potential or simply “weren’t my thing”.  I’m referring to overwritten, contrived, plodding, clumsily plotted narratives that had no business being on anyone’s “Best Of” list.  Books so bad they seriously had me wondering whether the person praising them even bothered to read them.

I take shitty book recommendations personally.  I invested time and money on a suggested read, time and money that could have been spent discovering better books.  What’s even more infuriating is the traction these critics and websites will continue to give these subpar authors, hooking other unwitting readers with their disingenuous reviews.  Look, I get it.  Your buddy or former co-worker or friend of friend could use the shout-out.  Or the publishing house would REALLY appreciate some good word of mouth.  But, next time, do me a favor and just shill these crap titles as part of your average entry.  By placing them on a Best Of list, you overplay your hand.  And as a result, you end up proving untrustworthy at best; a complete idiot at worst.

As I say: “Fool me once and I’ll never forgive you nor forget it and, someday, I will have my revenge.”

14 thoughts on “February 23, 2017: Please spare me your dishonest Best Of lists!

  1. I understand. I find the very concept of “best” problematic. My favorite book is almost always the one I just finished, because at that moment it has me under its spell. (If it didn’t, I wouldn’t finish it.) And I’m more likely to pick something old due to word of mouth over something new that someone is hyping. So my Best of 2016 list probably wouldn’t have any 2016 titles on it. I read too slowly for that.

  2. I find it very hard to find really good lists of what to read. I have about 900 on my ipad currently that I’m trying to get through.

    It’s a bit time consuming but what I’ve done sometimes is make a list from the potential list of recommended reads, then read the reviews on goodreads of others recommendations about that book before forking over the cash to buy the book in question.
    It does take more time, but you get burned a bit less with the “oh you have to read this, I didn’t but my friend said it was good” scenerio. (the friend being a reviewer for publishing house or author request)

  3. I’ve read some books I’ve enjoyed over the years (the ones I actually got to read for book club) but I don’t know if they would be liked by others so I tend to avoid recommendations. Don’t ever want to be on your revenge list. That’s kind of scary. 🙂

    How is Bubba doing today?

  4. For me, reading a book is a big investment. Every book needs to be a good one, because it’ll take me weeks to get through it at a few pages/night. That’s why your recs are so valuable to me! Thanks for weeding out the crap for the rest of us!

  5. I always go to the middle reviews, not the best or bottom, to get an idea. I rarely trust someone’s best list. Well unless it’s like top 100 and then I can get an idea of what rocks their boats.

  6. I just got done reading A. G. Riddle’s Origin Mystery trilogy, The Atlantis Gene, The Atlantis Plague and The Atlantis World. They popped up in Amazon when I looked up Stargate Atlantis (yes, I’m still hooked on that old show). I thought they had an excellent mythology.

  7. If you don’t like a book I recommend, it’s because my tastes aren’t as refined as yours. I would never intentionally push a book I didn’t enjoy. Speaking of books, did you ever read “The Book Thief”? That was a good one!

    Any improvement in Bubba? For a dog I’ve never personally met, I’m attached to him. Could be that cute face and the dazzling wardrobe. Or it could be how happy he looks when he’s cuddling with Akemi. He’s a lucky dog and has a great life!

  8. I’m much more of a cinephile than reader (although I do read 6 or so books a year). For example, I have watched EVERY horror movie on Netflix that was released in the last 10 years. I’m not exaggerating. And I feel the same way when I’m led astray by a movie recommendation, especially when I go out of my way to find it (see also: pay for it).

    I cut the cord on cable last summer, and rely on streaming only. So it can take some doing to find that little gem, that in some cases turns out to be a turd. And it really pisses me off when it sucks.

  9. @barbaro – I’m on book 3 of 5 of the Stargate Atlantis Legacy series. I’m really enjoying it. I read about ten of the Stargate SG1 books, but stopped when I got the third book in a row that wrote Jack O’Neill as a raging jerk. I can always tell which character in a book the author doesn’t really like (in a ensemble cast created by someone else). Jack is my favorite character, so that really bugs me.

    Joe – part of the reason that you are finding so much poorly written crap out there now is because the internet allows people to self publish without having to go through all that is involved in working with a big publisher. Any two guys can call themselves a publishing company these days, throw up a website and get their buddies published. I hate reading books with typos and grammatical errors. When I get to the end and read the acknowledgements and find that it is from a “small, independent publisher” I realize why. The book was not scrutinized and edited by enough people to catch all the sloppy writing errors, and the people who did read it weren’t qualified to do it properly.

  10. I think the way some of these books are written these days is reflective of the collective “rollback of intelligence” in society these days. Sure, people are getting through school and graduating, but are they truly learning anything anymore? I’ve seen high school graduates here in the US that hardly know basic math and can barely spell. Of course they’re going to like books that read as if they were written by a ten-year old. That’s all they can understand. They need things over-explained and obvious in order to even follow along in the first place.

    That’s what I heard about the fifty shades books, too: That they were horribly written and were more for shock value’s sake. Most people I knew that started to read them or read them all said that it was as if they were written by some barely literate, perverted teenager who just knew a bunch of bad words.

    But we both know that in the end, it’s not necessarily about the quality of the writing of a book, but the quantity of money the publishers, and ultimately Hollywood, can make off it. It’s sad, really.

    -Mike A.

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