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Tansy Rayner Roberts

Posts Tagged ‘bad books’

On Reading Bad Books

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

Over at Justine Larbalestier’s blog, she asks the question: What do you think of the frequently mounted defence of Twilight and some other popular YA titles that no matter what you think of the writing style or content it’s intended for teens so that’s okay. Or at least it gets teens reading?

There have been some wonderful, inventive comments, not overly hamstrung by Justine’s insistence that the relative merits of Twilight not be under discussion in the thread (and fair enough too, it’s one of the easiest ways to derail said conversation).

I commented over there with a blog-length comment, mostly about how I don’t like the way the terms ‘bad writing’ and ‘good writing’ get thrown around (it is actually possible for one person to like a book, another to dislike it, and them both to be RIGHT), and particularly the way that they are used in regards to hugely popular works preferred by women readers. I recall overhearing a young teenage boy informing his mother in a bookshop that Harry Potter was ‘entertaining but badly written’ and I was stunned. Who was he to make such a pronouncement? Was it his own opinion, or one he had heard? How can you possibly dismiss a work as badly written if you find it entertaining?

Surely entertaining is one of those things that writing is intended to do?

After reading all the comments that have come in on Justine’s blog I have been formulating a different response to the question. I understand why people are reacting negatively to the suggestion that ‘it’s okay to let teens read bad books because they’re just teenagers, as long as they’re reading it’s good’ but so many of the responses to that are rubbing me up the wrong way.

Because, you know what? It’s none of our business what teenagers are reading.

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