Bad Books (and people who talk about them)

Sometimes I see a book and think this sounds like it’s going to be horrible. Occasionally that thought is immediately followed by I need to read this. Which is the only explanation I have for reading The Queen of the Tearling.

But while the occasional trip down the ‘so bad it’s hilarious’-lane is fun, on balance I prefer to spend more time reading good books than books involving royal guards that are worse at protecting monarchs than Jamie Lannister. Or books where the hero shows off the Iron Cross he got for saving Mussolini (The Zenda Vendetta if you really want to know…)

So I was very happy when I fell over this book some years ago:

Robin Ince's Bad Book Club

In his Bad Book Club, the author gives a very enjoyable insight into special treasures he picked up in charity shops. Treasures like an Elvis biography written in verse, a book about giant crabs attacking and eating people, gynecological Christian romances, a book about giant rats attacking and eating people, a collection of essays in which people discuss their sexual fantasies involving celebrities, a book about giant worms attacking and eating people, Z-list celebrity biographies, guides for psychic sex and…more books about giant crabs attacking and eating people because apparently, I missed a lot as person who is too cowardly for any kind of horror. It’s a great way to get the condensed horribleness of all these books, without having to read all of them yourself.

And now it turns out there aren’t just books about bad books, there are also podcasts. Like I Don’t Even Own a Television. Every episode the hosts discuss another bad book. They start off with a summary of the plot, do dramatic readings of the best/worst passages and – depending on the book – speculate on what a character might do in a certain situation, which celebrity might be a fan, cast the movie adaptation or just pick a random passage to read out loud.

But they do all that without being mean about books that don’t deserve it. Because some bad books are bad because they are a bit ridiculous (or more than a bit). Like books about giant mutated animals attacking and eating people or a group of heroes traveling through a fantasy-land where everything is a pun. Other books are bad because every chapter features another -ism and the obvious author self-insert protagonist thinks all his problems can be solved by shooting brown people. The podcast features both types of books but always makes it clear that there’s a difference between them. There have also been a few occasion where at least one of the hosts admitted that they enjoyed the book a lot more than expected and it never takes away from the fun of the episodes.

Recently IDEOATV did a crossover with Worst Bestsellers and even though I had told myself I wouldn’t start any more podcasts, I enjoyed the crossover so much I had to listen to some more Worst Bestsellers. I only listened to a few episodes so far but also really loved them.

They have a similar basic set-up but with different games (What would Wolverine do if he was in this book and is it cooler than what The Rock would do?) And while neither podcast focusses specifically on one genre, Worst Bestsellers is rather heavy on YA and romance. It also features more recent and well-known books, so I have heard of more books they discuss on the podcast. And in some cases, I have already heard a lot about the books they are discussing and I admit I have already heard/read/watched so much about Fifty Shades of Gray that I don’t need to listen to anymore. But that leaves still enough other episodes that I want to listen to (like the Flowers in the Attic episode). And it’s not like I haven’t skipped IDEOATV-episodes for various reasons (like: I unironically enjoyed the Dragonlance-books I’ve read).

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