There are good books and there are bad books, period, that’s the distinction.
There are books you like and books you don’t like.
That is the only defensible distinction.
If you sit on a chair and it doesn’t bear your weight, it is a bad chair.
Similarly, there are bad books that are not constructed so as to do their jobs in any way. Not many, fortunately, but there really are some.
What if the chair isn’t meant for you?
What if it’s a baby chair or a prank chair or a piece of performance art?
Yet there are readers who would say those books are good.
Bad vs. good in books is subjective.
A tech manual for an engine overhaul that includes errors that could lead to engine failure is a bad book. My powerplant instructor had one, for an air-cooled aircraft engine, that he kept for use as a teaching tool.
To a 200lb person it was a good chair. When I dropped my 300lb carcass into it it became a bad chair. 😉
That be chairs. Books can be bad from the get-go if the data is bad (or it could be a good/bad book depending on if it says what you wanted to hear. 😉 )
Felix J Torres, Now you are just being ‘hostile’ by trying to ‘impose’ your view on others. Don’t you know that “It’s hostile to try to wrench around someone else’s mind that way”?
Suburbanbanshee, You are doing it, too.
Geez, I’m doing it, too. Blimey, this redistribution of wealth is trickier than I thought.
I’m soooo ashamed of my non-judmentalism. I’ll go crawl back under my rock.
I won’t argue, but I disagree.
There are books I don’t care for, there are books I disagree with, there are books I am indifferent to. These still might be good, but there are also books that are bad. Purported non-fiction that is incomprehensible, or based on indefensible lies or misinformation. Books that don’t make their point. Fiction that tells incoherent stories about unbelievable characters. These are all bad. A book doesn’t have to be bad for me not to like it, and theoretically, I might like a bad book, but I have not seen a bad book I liked, yet.
To live is to judge. To be wise is to know when to judge.
What is your standard of judgement for fiction, and is it the only standard, or are there others that conflict with it?
I am not a literary critic or much of a book reviewer, so I don’t devote much thought to defining standards for fiction or checking their consistency.
I take the somewhat solipsistic position that my being and brain are the only probes I have for measuring anything, and I cannot help but grant that every other person is entitled to their own probes and conclusions. I use that assertion to question the value of putting much effort into defining universal standards. But I still can classify books and everything else according my lights.
What that means practically, is that I have ways of judging myself and others, but others may disagree. If a lot of people agree with my judgements, the world will be a place I like, and generally it is. That’s enough for me. But I still value my judgements.
Sorry that I can’t say more.
“Good” and “bad” are pure judgement calls. As such they are context-dependent, not absolute or definitive.
A more proper description might be “inaccurate” or “dated” or some other term which actually expresses something other than disapproval.
Agree, but I’m lazy. It’s so much easier to toss books into the good bin or the bad bin instead of putting effort into analyzing them as inaccurate or dated or whatever.
If I were trying to help someone to write a book that I will classify as good, I would make the effort, but, at heart, I prefer to do my work and enjoy the sunshine when the sun comes out.
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