1. IronPalm
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    IronPalm Banned

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    Garbage Reads

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by IronPalm, Aug 29, 2013.

    I mentioned it briefly in another topic, but from time to time, I like to indulge in "garbage reads". Instead of being great literature or simply outstanding genre works, these are trashy, simplistic works, often written solely for the money.

    I will usually indulge in one of these garbage reads for every 4-5 more serious works. Personally, I find myself draw to autobiographies, particularly of athletes. While a few of these turn out to be surprisingly good (Open by Andre Agassi probably being the finest example), most are dumbed-down, very fast-paced affair light on intelligence.

    Nevertheless, they're enjoyable as a change of pace.

    Focus- What are some of your favorite genres and specific examples of garbage reads?
     
  2. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I don't know that I consider any reads in quite this way. I read to be informed, entertained, or to learn something about writing through example. Books that do all three are great, but one is sufficient. I will usually go with a light, purely entertaining book, every few reads. An adventure fantasy or science fiction, or a horror novel, or maybe one of the Jack Reacher novels or a fast-paced thriller. They have to entertain, and if they do that chances are I'm learning something about writing too.
     
  3. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    gothic romances - V.C. Andrews Flowers in the attic
    Cheesy bodice rippers - Zebra Historical romance - especially the time travel ones they're hysterical plus it actually allows the modernized heroine to be believable. A lot of the 18 century 'modern' girls don't seem to be that believable as they really don't have a basis for their uprising ( they're gorgeous ) they'll technically get everything they want - lol.
     
  4. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I used to read "garbage reads" quite a bit when I was in my twenties. They were usually not really garbage, but the kind of book that is simultaneously fun and informative, like The Guinness Book of Records or The Book of Lists. Books full of interesting trivia that I could just pick up, open anywhere, and be fascinated and entertained.

    I never deliberately read trashy novels. There was a time in my teens and twenties when I was a fan of Alistair MacLean, but not any more. I tried rereading a couple of his books recently and found them awful - lots of good plot twists, but lousy prose and paper-thin characterization. (Most of his heroes were British. I found it funny that in one book - Athabasca - his heroes were Texans, but these Texans talked exactly like the British heroes of his other books. I mean, the guy wasn't even trying!)

    I'm older now and I'm keenly aware of my own mortality. There's a giant heap of good books I'd love to read, and time is running out. So I read good stuff almost exclusively now, and I don't regret it. I never feel "tired" of good literature; I never feel like I have to take a break and read garbage. I'm kind of glad of that. It does, however, mean that I don't know what people are talking about when they reference Twilight or Hunger Games or Fifty Shades or Jack Reacher. That's all right with me.
     
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  5. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    This right here just made you my crush for the next 15 min. ;)
     
  6. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Umm ... thanks?
    ;)
     
  7. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    Hmmm... I've read some dodgy stuff in my time.

    I've been recommended lots of books I've come to view as garbage, but I seem to have a fairly good feel for what is likely to please me when choosing for myself. Generally, I tend to read more gritty fantasy, and historical drama than any other genres, but at the same time, I try not to limit myself.

    Now, I'm not going to describe his work as garbage—although, some might deem it so—in fact, I'm quite the fan. When I need a break and a giggle, especially when I've hit a wall in regards to my own writing, I rather like to read Robert Rankin. I find people either enjoy his humour and style, or don't. He's a bit like Marmite in that respect.

    For those who are unfamiliar, but have a love of British whimsy, he's worth investigating. For me, he hits the same spot as Terry Pratchett, only more so. If however, you don't feel you can stomach characters such as a demi-god-like, time-travelling, brussels sprout, who is carried in the pocket of a meta-fictional, Noir style detective, you might wanna give him a miss.

    I read his work for no other reason than he makes me laugh. Sometimes that's all I want.
     
  8. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's pretty rare that I read something really "garbagey" on purpose. (Sometimes my book club books turn out to be garbage, but then I'm just irritated -- they're not a guilty pleasure.) I did read the FSOG trilogy, which was a fun couple of days. Otherwise, not too much. A few years back I read the bio of John Edwards that was written by his ex-best friend and campaign manager. I also recently bought This Town, a gossipy book about D.C. I haven't had time to get to it yet, but I'm kind of looking forward to reading it even though it probably won't be something that would contribute to personal growth. Like a couple of the others have mentioned, I so enjoy good books, and I have so very many in my TBR pile that it's not really worth it to me to spend time on something truly trashy.
     
  9. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I used to read a lot of bestsellers/popular books back during high school, and I would classify a lot of them as garbage reads.

    Now if I really wanted to read garbage, all I would have to do is read the stuff I wrote 5-6 years ago. :p
     
  10. EmmaWrite
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    EmmaWrite Member

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    I read the corny chic-lit marketed to teenage girls. My Boyfriends' Dogs was one that I read recently that was completely terrible while also very sweet and entertaining. Anything with a pastel cover with the silhouette of a girl in the dress on it I know I'm going to hate and love.
     
  11. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    My current favourite trashy reads/guilty pleasure are Dan Brown novels. They are so bad, they are good. I also read all three '50 Shades' but that was for research. Otherwise, I stopped reading romance novels in high school (when I read quite a few books by Danielle Steel and Sidney Sheldon).
     
  12. IronPalm
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    IronPalm Banned

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    I LOVED The Book of Lists back when I read it in my early teens! To be honest, a lot of was pure bullshit, (it claimed Charlemagne was 9 foot tall, that certain human beings had lived to 150+ years old, etc.) but it was still a lot of fun. Definitely one of my own favorite garbage reads!

    Interesting, I wasn't even aware that Sidney Sheldon ever wrote romance novels. Which ones did you read in particular?

    However, I would definitely agree that a lot of his prose falls under the "garbage read" heading. It's a shame, too, because the guy was a genuinely talented writer, but chose to write mindless, often hacky, if moderately entertaining works.
     
  13. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Dan Brown, Tom Clancy, Stephen King, Ayn Rand; all utter shit but god help me do I have a soft spot for them!
     
  14. IronPalm
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    IronPalm Banned

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    Them's fighting words! Rand is a good writer with intellectual thought behind her works, however much liberals demonize her. As for King, his work is very hit-or-miss.

    I agree some of his sequels are utter shit or mindless fluff, but on the flip side, the Dark Tower series is the greatest work of epic fantasy I have ever read.

    Agree with you about Brown and Clancy, too.
     
  15. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    My picking those two did admittedly have an element of mischief making, I know both have their fans, but I can't say I'm not being honest to my own tastes. I don't think Ayn Rand was a good writer, and King I find pretty light and pedestrian.

    I can also admit that I once flirted with Objectivism, it just took a passing thought to Nietzsche or Sartre for me to be persuaded she didn't have anything to offer me that I didn't get earlier, by others, just put in another way. I think it's great she talked about this stuff, she made the effort and that is not nothing, I can give her that. That would even be enough to call her good if I thought her actual prose stood up. I generally find her prose shallow, somehow lifeless; lacking any form of complexity or even subtlety, especally in Atlas Shrugged. I can only echo William F Buckley's sentiments to the effect of 'I had to flog myself to read it'.

    I have no reason to demonize her, I'm not an American Liberal, I just think she's pap. I obviously enjoy reading her stuff though, or I wouldn't have named her. A part of me likes her world, and I enjoy the philosophical debate.

    Stephen King, though, I have a more ambivalent relationship with. I really like some of his stuff, really hate others. Hit or miss, as you say; I grew up with his novels, I used to steal them from my sister and read them after everyone else had gone to bed on school nights - but the word I find best fits Stephen King is 'yarn'. It's homespun, light, entertaining, not something you really have to chew and digest, so I find a lot of it forgettable. To me he's like the literary equivalent of egg and chips (and now my Britishness is out in full), it's pretty tasty, it does the job, and you can enjoy it, but it's not exactly fine cooking.
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2013
  16. IronPalm
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    IronPalm Banned

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    I read Nietzche and Sartre before ever reading Rand. One can pick apart any school of philosophy, objectivism included; it's not difficult.

    I mostly agree with you about Rand's prose, although it's not as ghastly as you imply. Also, it's only one element of writing, and past a certain baseline level, the least important. The other two are the entertainment value of the work and its depth/themes/intelligence.

    Rand is good in both those areas; her works have a wry sense of humor, are consistently engaging, and absolutely have ideas behind them. I'm not saying she is great or anywhere close to it, for the record. It's laughable to compare her to a truly great writer like a Kundera or Murakami. But she was good, yeah.

    I can agree with this label for every King story I have read except for the Dark Tower series. But for that case, it couldn't be further from the truth.
     
  17. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    That is true enough, you are not wrong there. And I would not have named Rand if I didn't find something I enjoy in her stuff. She's also easily read too, and has her place. I find The Fountainhead a great airplane book.

    The Dark Tower was cool, yeah. I have a weakness for those cowboy films like the Spaghetti Westerns, and I really liked the game series Fallout when I was younger. I can't say anything bad about him with regards to those, they really worked.
     
  18. Dante Dases
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    I love a good garbage read to take my mind off the hook. I sympathise with the view that life's too short not to read good stuff, but sometimes you've just got to read something to relax. Dealing with what I deal with in my day job doesn't make me want to spend every night reading philosophy or the classics, if truth be told. When stressed, there's nothing better than to pick up some literary popcorn rather than deciding on the Michelin star read.

    So, with that in mind, I'll confess to still being a bit of a Harry Potter fan (actually, I lie - a lot of a Harry Potter fan). It's not unknown for me to pick up some of the Star Wars expanded universe either.

    That said, my current read is a political biography, and my next few include the final Iain M. Banks novel, Beowulf, some David Peace (the Red Riding series, I reckon), Flowers For Algernon, and possibly a Dune series re-read - hardly garbage reads. I might have to pick up some crap somewhere down the line to make me feel better.
     
  19. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I'm not sure what exactly is garbage, not even after reading all the posts in this thread...

    I read Twilight for a university course. If it's read for uni, does it make the purpose of the read less garbagey? Okay, I lied, I didn't read all of it. I skipped a bit, and learned the ending by watching the movie. On a second thought, I guess I should've just read it 'cause the movie was awful. I mean, I couldn't even justify watching that like men justify watching Resident Evil movies -- Robert Pattinson has an annoying face and that other guy looks like an alpaka, so no eyecandy there either.

    I've also enjoyed Marianne series by Juliette Benzoni. They are awfully corny here and there, but Marianne is such a kickass lady I'll just ignore the corn.

    A long time ago I had something of a garbage binge: I read Brass by Helen Walsh, Taming the Beast by Emily Maguire, and Ralph's Party by Lisa Jewell. There was little to no substance to them, but I guess the fun of it was reading something that's so awful it's kind of good, plus I learned a few new words.
     
  20. Ray West
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    Ray West Member

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    I do enjoy the somewhat trashy vampire novels, like the southern vampire series that true blood is based on... They're definitely very quick and easy reads, and they're just kinda fun on occasion...
     
  21. TessaT
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    TessaT Contributing Member

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    I wouldn't classify them as 'trashy', but definitely brain candy. A treat, that does nothing for me except a small rush. It used to be Laurell K. Hamiliton, but I've completed hated her last couple of books. I also enjoy Kim Harrison, and think that while its an interesting world, it's not enlightening or moving. I'll also delve into a good YA fantasy novel every now and again. Normally when I need an easy read with an interesting story.

    I have to touch on the fact that Stephen King was mentioned as a trashy read. I do agree that he's completely hit and miss, but I found The Talisman and Black House to be incredibly engaging. And, of course, the Dark Tower Series. :love:
     

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