I keep track of all the books I read via Goodreads. Sometimes I go through the books I’ve read and look over my reviews. It brings back feelings I had when I read the book, fond feelings, feelings of love, friendship, excitement, anxiety, aniticipation. Sometimes the feeling of deep hate for a book comes surging back, but you know what? That’s not the worst thing I can feel about a book.
Sometimes I glance at a book and I think, “I don’t even remember reading that one.” The worst thing I can say about a book is that it was boring or forgettable. If I hate a book, it does not mean the book was poorly written. Indeed it may have been very well crafted and probably was if it ignited such passionate feelings. My feelings of hate are probably because I didn’t agree with the author’s world view.
Grapes of Wrath. There’s an example. Very well written book and I hated all of it, especially the ending. But is it a bad book? No. Steinbeck wrote a very compelling story that was on all accounts memorable, and well crafted, but I hated it nonetheless. It just gave me the heebie-jeebies.
And that’s okay. I still have enormous respect for his work. What I don’t have respect for, what my brain actually refused to remember, is lousy writing.
As Simon says, “Either be great or be awful but whatever you do don’t be forgettable.”