So Bad It’s Good

Some movies are so bad they just die on the screen.  There’s Golden Turkey’s awarded for the really bad movies.  But there are other movies that are so bad, it’s good. They become fan favorites.

It's a turkey but is it a golden turkey? What makes a book or movie so bad it's good?

One of my favorites is a campy horror picture that became a hit with science fiction fans: The Rocky Horror Picture Show.  (Please note: It is an R rated film, though the youtube video I’ve included here only shows the cover of the album.)

I love this campy look at science fiction and the energy that the movie inspires in its audience.

I’m certain you have your campy or bad movie favorites.  Those you think are indulgent because they’re so bad.  I’d love to hear what some of your “bad movie” favorites are.

In my experience, books are not rated the same way.  Good books seem to get good press across a wide spectrum.  But Bad books?  People disagree widely on what makes a bad book and which ones are bad books. Just read the reviews on some great literature classics, you’ll see the wide variety of responses.

If you read a bad book do you just throw it away and not think about it anymore? Do you give it a one-star review? Do you send a private message the author suggesting ways he or she would improve? If you give a one- or tw0-star review, do you explain why it’s so bad? Or do you rant and rave at the author?

As an author, I appreciate all reviews. Sometimes the review is meant to hurt the author and I can attest that they do. But if it’s a thoughtful review that points out a weakness, I am eternally grateful for that feedback.

Despite all that, there are books that are books so bad they are enjoyable. Is there a book you’ver read that’s so bad it’s good enough to re-read?  Those of you who are writers, do you keep a bad book on hand as inspiration (if this can get published, why not me)? As always, I love to read your comments and I am ever so grateful that you’ve taken time to visit my blog.


  1. This is a good question–I don’t think I’ve ever re-read a book I thought was bad. Sometimes I will try to figure out why I think it’s bad–because it can help me as a writer I think.
    There have been a few movies I’ve walked out of–mostly because I got so bored I just didn’t care what happened. It really is so subjective though. I had a friend that loved the movie Harold & Maude and loved to watch it over and over. I remember thinking it was such an odd movie.

    1. I’m certain I have never re-read a bad book. I’ve gotten to the point that if I am not enjoying a book, or learning something from it, I don’t finish the book. Like you, I will sometimes try to figure out why it is bad.

      I’ve been trying to figure out why I don’t feel the same way about a bad movie as I do about a bad book. I remember sitting through some real stinkers at a movie theater but I only remember walking out of one movie (I don’t even remember the title of that movie).

      Thanks for stopping by, Coleen.

  2. Interesting post Lynette.

    Whether a book’s ‘bad’ or not is a touchy subject. What works for one person doesn’t always work for another. If a book rambles on and is too slow or too wordy (I like well written descriptive prose as well as the next person but too much of it can end up making the reader feel punch drunk and the ‘hit’ of fabulous description is lost) I give it a chance and then put it aside. Weak editing annoys me too as does the bad habit of the author placing her/himself between the character and the reader.

    A book that drove me to drink with that particular flaw was the literary fiction fantasy A Discovery of Witches. It’s a dark, gothic read which needs 40% of it cut imho I wanted to love that book soooo bad but the style drove me nuts. It’s a love story that never ever got. to. the. point. I kept chanting ‘get on with it’ as I read. The editor of that book needs put up against a wall and shot imho because although it’s been a huge success and applauded by the literati (the writer’s a professor at the Bodleian Library in London) it could have gone into the stratosphere. And it’s polarised opinion on the reader boards. I didn’t buy the next one in the trilogy because it went back in time three hundred years and I read the excerpt and thought, no. I don’t have time to wade through six hundred odd pages leading to nowhere. And yet others love it, opinions are so subjective.

    These days I read books for entertainment and sometimes to learn something new. I want light relief so I’ll never read about domestic violence, child abuse or rape for example. I enjoy a good adventure story too. The world’s in a tough place at the moment and that’s where I think authors can step up to the plate and spread a little happiness, laughter and joy. And a little lurrrvvee!

    1. Interesting comments, Christine. I agree that whether a book is bad or not is very subjective. Yet, somehow movies can be viewed and have a much larger group of people agree that it’s a bad movie.

      I’m glad that there are some authors like you who are dedicated to spreading happiness, laughter and joy! Thanks for commenting, Christine.

  3. twilight. I love everything it’s criticized for. It’s almost a parody of itself with the exaggerations. It was everything my teenage brain would have dreamed up.

    I love watching the Transporter series, the first one is pretty good, but the second and third have so many corny stunts it borders on stupidity.

    1. Twilight is not something I have found interesting. But I am fascinated that you look at it as almost a parody of itself. I may have to check that out.

      I agree, the first Transformer movie was a fun indulgence. The next two were bleh.

      Thanks for sharing, Asrai!

  4. I finally gave myself permission to stop reading a bad book. I used to believe a book had to be finished, but now I don’t care. there are so many books clamoring for my eyes and mind that I set one aside and go find another one. I even have a category on my kindle “too bad to finish”. and for me it’s mostly about characters. If they aren’t believable, why bother reading?

    thought provoking blog, Lynette. thanks

  5. Ooooh, gotta love Rocky Horror! Thing is, it’s a musical, and the singing and dancing make up for the story, which, despite its weak plot, is funny. So it’s not all bad. As for books, it depends on what you mean by “bad.” Is it full of typos and grammar gaffes, but about characters I’ve quickly come to love? Or a plot that keeps me guessing that I have to find out how it ends? Things like that can make up for some “badness, ” just depends on what the bad is.

  6. You know, I’ve been very fortunate Lynette. Once in a blue moon will I read a bad book. And then what constitutes a bad book is another thing also. It may be subjective on so many levels. If I find a good book, I will immediately re-read it so I can get into the authors head. I love trying to do that. I learn so much that way. I have to agree with Christine. Life is so crazy today. Let’s write to entertain and give people something good to set their minds on for a short while anyway. Thanks Lynette! 🙂

  7. Rocky Horror Picture Show is a hoot. And I have a pretty high tolerance for movie stupidity since I mostly watch movies with hubby who is an action movie fan 😛 They are not known for brainiac plots. But I’m learning how to entertain and keep a fast pace from those.

    I agree with Louise that life is too short to read bad books with so many good ones out there. With Kindle I have become fickle with finishing even decent books (but then I always read more than one traditional book at a time too). If a book isn’t really riveting, I might remember or discover another book and start reading that. Then I return to the old book or not.

    I never re-read bad books. They usually just piss me off. Mostly I have encountered bad books by established author who had so much name already that their editors couldn’t be as heavy handed with them as they should have been.

    The worst examples are Children of the Earth books 5 & 6 by Jean Auel. I had been satisfied with the ending of book 4 and thought it was the end. Then the author suddenly returned to the series after over 10 years because she wanted to put in specific Stone Age caves. And it really shows in book 6 that has many chapters where the characters arrive to a cave showing off their amazing horses and carriages and then the cave is described. No action, no conflict, no plot. Grrr. Conflict in book 5 is pretty weak too but at least it is there.

    The worst offender in the end of book 6 is that the main characters became all the sudden totally new people who behaved in a way that stopped me wanting to know them. I am actively imagining that book 6 does not exist. I have seen similar fan rage only about Anne Bishop’s latest Dark Jewels story collection where she forwarded the story enough that the original main character (who has normal life span) got old and well…. you know. And her nigh immortal spouse moved on after mourning. How dared he! I haven’t read the book myself but I think that the author should leave the future of the characters a bit open and allow space for reader imagination. Even if it will likely result in bad fanfic 😛 But it shows that the fans care and love the world and the characters.

    1. Thanks, Reetta. I have only read one of Jean Auel’s books. But I have to agree, that sometimes it appears that an established author can get away with extremely self-indulgent writing that doesn’t deliver the emotional journey a reader desires.

      I usually do not finish what I consider a bad book. However, I will reread the first chapter or two to see what it was that made me not want to finish the book. I find that as instructive as rereading favorite books.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *