What do people do when they’re done reading a book they’ve purchased?

(1) Do you put it on the shelf like a trophy, “See, I read this!” perchance to read again?

(2) Or, if the book was all right, but not really your thing, do you donate it to a library or second-hand store, or trade it in for credit at a used bookstore, hoping it will end up with someone who might like it better?

(3) Or maybe the thing is absolute drivel and you can’t believe someone actually killed a tree to bring it into the world. So you take the book and say, “No more trees shall die on thine account! I cast thee into the recycle bin!”

(4) Or maybe the damned thing is so offensive, it’s not even worth that, and you dump it right in the trash hoping it ends up smooshed with dog shit in some landfill where it will ROT!!!?

Well, this last book I finished yesterday, “Dreamchild”, almost got the number #4 treatment. It wasn’t a badly written book, it was even sort of intriguing. It was definitely pulp fiction–someone’s take on the whole Roswell/Dreamland/alien/Majestic mythology, explored from the POV of people involved in the whole aliens-are-among-us events in different ways. So I was eating it up like movie popcorn until they introduced the villains of the piece, the Evil Lesbians. Oy. Basically, these two women are conspiring to kill the aliens who are, as it turns out, the saviors of mankind, and killing any humans that get in their way/whom they need as Guinea pigs. Eventually, one of the pair (’cause they’re usually a pair who of course use remorseless killing as foreplay) sees the error of her ways and betrays her lover. The only reason this drivel isn’t going in the trash is they didn’t take the Evil Lesbian cliche to its usual end point and get the redeemed woman together with a man.

But it’s already in the recycle bin.

Now I’m hankering to watch “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and Steven Spielberg’s “Taken” to get the taste of this out of my mouth.

Next up on the list: Laurell K. Hamilton. I know, I know, but it’s early Hamilton, and I’ve never read her before.

“A Wizard of Earthsea”, Ursula Le Guin
“Proven Guilty”, Jim Butcher
“Dreamchild”, Hilary Hemingway and Jeffry P. Lindsay

45 thoughts on “Dreamchild

  1. Mostly I buy books I want to keep so usually 1 with a good sprinkling of 3 and 4. I have no problems with putting landfill quality writing where it belongs.
    Laurell K. Hamilton lives in the very suburb I grew up in. The settings of her books in the St. Louis area are ones I know extremely well. She chooses them well for their atmosphere. If a lot of what she wrote wasn’t porno for women, I’d read more. As it is her writing is a bit icky.

  2. Mmm. Most books are down stairs if I like them a lot or they are waiting to be read. Upstairs if I like them but won’t reread for a while. I haven’t thrown any books away in a while but now I am reading mostly from the library.
    Guilty Pleasures is still an old favorite.

  3. for the record I employ all four things you listed.
    I can avoid this but thank you for reccing Butcher. I’m on Storm Front and I am enjoying it.
    Early Hamilton wasn’t bad. It wasn’t until she pulled the Anne Rice Routine and fell in love with the evil characters did she make me want to toss her right into the can

  4. That seems to be a real danger with genre writers, isn’t it? Falling in love with your evil characters and either trying to redeem them without them actually losing most of their most “charming” evil ways, or, worse, celebrating their evil and rewarding them for it? (Thomas Harris, I am *SO* looking at you!!)

  5. Yeah, I have the trusty library card to save me from this dilemma. If I really like a book I’ve checked out, I can always go buy it, like I did with The Dresden Files and Tanya Huff’s Blood series.

  6. Don’t get me started on Thomas Harris. I’m still not recovered from the first Hannibal sequel.
    And Hamilton is very very guilty too.
    Sometimes i have trouble killing my evil villians but at least I don’t have perfectly sane good characters falling in love with them

  7. I rather like the early LHK, they’re fun, smooth, sarcastic and it’s before the repeatition gets to you. Also Anita is really the king of bitchy females I adore ^^

  8. We’ll see how I handle evil characters who I am genuinely attached to. I’ve never really written gray, as opposed to out-and-out evil villians before (unless you count canonical baddies in fan fic, but then you just stick to canon and you don’t have to do the hard work). But now I have some in the new season of TD.

  9. Thanks, now I know to never bother with that book, so if nothing else you’ve saved me from a wasted afternoon. I don’t think I’ve ever owned a book that offended me deeply enough to toss it in the trash. I loathe Steinbeck’s The Pearl but I kept it. I never owned a copy of The Horse Whisperer, which did offend me on a spectacular number of levels. I’ve been bored to tears by some authors, but I rarely give up a book once I own it, because you never know when you might need one for reference. Really good books I stockpile so I can give out extra copies to friends, because loaning books makes me crazy.

  10. That’s assuming you actually come across the book anywhere. It was published in ’98 and is probably festering in the basement of used bookstores. And I forgot to mention the offensive depiction of Native Americans it had. Plus some annoying anti-Semitism, although to the authors’ credit, it came out of the mouths of some unsympathetically-portrayed Fundy characters.

  11. I have a pathological inability to throw books away, hence the storage problems. My usual MO is to give books away or stack the bad ones at the back of better ones, or high up. The problem with lending books out though, is that unknown force of nature which compells everyone you’ve ever lent a book to to return it in the same week. I have ended up with piles of books on my bedroom floor and nowhere to put them.
    If I really hate a book though I just won’t finish it.

  12. That was the dilemma I faced this time around. Usually if I am reading a book and it starts getting bad, offensive, or unsettling, I usually just stop (like with American Gods). But now I’m doing this “read 52 books in a year” thing and I don’t want to lose my momentum. So I just kept on reading. Not sure what kind of policy I should develop for when the book just SUCKS TOO MUCH to finish.

  13. Depends of the book. Some books I love so much I keep in my room and re-read once a year. Some go into storage and every few years. sometimes there are books so bad I have to give away so I won’t see them around be reminded I actually got them. And there are some bad ones I do keep just because I have guilty pleasures *eyes VC Andrews books*

  14. The only book I ever came close to burning was American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis because at one point I could not decide if the writer was getting off on the graphic (and by graphic, I mean graphic) serial killer tortures women sexually scenes from hell. Instead I threw it at a friend who took it out of my sight and off my hands, because I just can’t throw books in the trash or the recycle heap. They sit in bags and boxes and shelves around my house or if I’m really lucky get sent to someone else. If they are a keeper? I tend to put them on the shelf in a place of honor, or if I’m out of room, like I am now – under the bed. Wait did you really want an answer to those questions?
    Regarding Laurell K. Hamilton – only read two of hers – Guilty Pleasures (which is better than the graphic novel version believe it or not), and Obsidian Butterfly (which is the only one that doesn’t have much sex in it.)
    I’d rec – Obsidian Butterfly.

  15. If I did that, I wouldn’t count it in the 52, no. The point of this is to actually read and study the fiction!

  16. I’ll be curious to know what you think of Hamilton. I read one- finally- a year or so ago because so many people went on about how great she was…and I could barely get through it. I think it might have even been her first vampire hunter book. It was *shudders*…
    (btw, I put my books on a shelf. In my bedroom I have a book case full of books I have purchased but have yet to read- so when I am done, it’s like going to a little mini bookstore…books waiting for me to choose them. When I am done, I put them on the new built in shelves we put in our living room…I like looking at them. I *do* re-read, too.
    I am also keeping track of my reading this year at )

  17. I have “Guilty Pleasures” in my used bookstore purchases collection, so that’s what I’m going to read.
    I did get all the way through “American Psycho”, I have to say, but I couldn’t keep it afterwards.
    I’ve learned to get rid of books because I move a lot, and all those boxes get really tiring to lug around everywhere. Plus, you value the books you have more when they’re treasured favorites. At least, I do.

  18. I’ll post a review.
    Part of my purpose in making a point of reading this year is to actually read the books I’ve accumulated from haunting bookstores. They tend to accumulate.

  19. Throwing paper in the trash nowadays offends my sense of avoiding waste, so the ones that are really awful go in the recycling collection and the ones I just can’t be bothered with go to the charity shop.

  20. Well, I do all of those. With 4) being ripped in half and burned. It’s really quite satisfying when you really loathe a book. And you want to start a fire.
    And yeah, early Hamilton is better. Lots of amusing, “But how can I hide my guns and knives in this skimpy outfit?” For my take, in the Anita books it’s after Obsidian Butterfly that things get burnable (or not buyable). Not so much the author falling in love with her evil characters (she has some intriguing hero as becoming monster stuff), but err… they stopped being cracktastic and became bad fanfic.

  21. they stopped being cracktastic and became bad fanfic.
    But *burning books*? That’s so Fahrenheit 457! *shudders*

  22. I’m a total packrat when it comes to books. The ones I like go to the fronts of the shelves, to be reread from time to time, the ones I’m so-so about get stuck on the middle layer and the oh god never again usually end up way to the back of the shelves. I have books 3 deep on my shelves, and am running out of space. I am unable to throw books away…but I did make a radical decision to thin things out. I took several huge bags of books to the hospital, and left most of them outside the gift shop for the Auxiliary patient library. Others I left in the staff room, for my coworkers to check out.

  23. Well, actually
    The first time it came up was on a camping trip. Mom brought a copy of this book about these people whose plane crashes in the Andes Mts. Things get worse from there. She’d read a chapter and burned it ceremonially. Actually, not a bad book, just not the right book to bring on a back packing trip. Happily we made it back from the trip without resorting to cannibalism.
    I’ve only done it a few times myself. I have to be really annoyed with the book. And possibly life in general. It’s quite cathartic.

  24. Re: Well, actually
    There’s a certain poetic justice to it. If the book was, you know, Mein Kampf, or something.

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