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Sunday 30 May 2010

Never Judge A Book By Its Cover

London City Mum mentioned a book on Twitter recently that had just read, but wishes she had not. To say her review of said book was scathing is a bit of an understatement. (apologies, name escapes me - probably should have noted it!). It got me thinking about the worst book(s) I have ever read.

I very much enjoy reading - I think it is fair to say I will give most things a go, although I do have a particular fondness for crime fiction if I have to express a preference (something I apparently share with lots of women - there's probably another post in the psychology of that!).

When the Borders chain went into administration in the UK last year, our local store had a huge sell-off event. As it was only down the road from where I work, a lot of people were waxing lyrical about the bargains to be had. So one Saturday, we decided to take the kids and see if there was anything worth buying. This of course was the first mistake. I had visions of the children sitting quietly perusing the kids' section whilst we leafed through the many bargains.

I really am not sure what I was thinking. Firstly, it is impossible to take my children shopping anywhere, without them literally running around a shop causing havoc. This usually means that one of the adults spends their time chasing after them, whilst the other one of us scans the shop for anything worth buying, in record speed, under extreme pressure. Secondly of course, "sales" are never relaxing shopping experiences anyway, as everyone scrabbles for bargains, jealously eyeing up the last scraps.

I got a couple of cookbooks, we chose a couple of children's books, and then I made a beeline for the fiction. I was shortly due to fly out on one of my regular trips to Dubai, and I was looking forward to getting some time to read a novel in peace. By this point, the children were thoroughly bored, and were threatening to escape to the playground outside. I therefore grabbed the first thing that seemed vaguely interesting. The jacket mentioned vampires on the back, but didn't really give much else away. The book was based in Paris, which sort of interested me. I threw it in the basket and thought no more about it.

When I got on the plane a couple of weeks later, I opened the book and settled down to read. It slowly dawned on me that this was no "ordinary" vampire fantasy (if there even is such a thing). It appeared I had bought one of a series that had already had one or two novels preceding it. This annoyed me, but not as much as the absolutely awful prose. I don't pretend I am a great writer myself, but this was someone who had been published! It was badly written and full of clich├ęs.

'"They will be hounding you for days", my angel growled, his back arching and his head tossing, his glorious hair scything a black arc through the air.
"Yes", I grunted, my nails piercing deeper the flesh of his lower back.
"And so every moment beween, you are mine." He rocked forward, causing my head to slam into wood yet again.
"My...ass..is...yours?" My fangs punctured my lip.

You expect a bit of sex in an adult vampire novel. I get that. This, however, was something different. It was full of references to drugs, and the sex was definitinly of the homosexual variety. It dawned on me that I was taking drug-induced, gay vampire porn into a Muslim country! I shoved the book into the bottom of my hand luggage, and hoped I wouldn't be searched on the way in to Dubai.

To this day, the book still sits on our bookshelves. Every now and then I like to look at it and smile. It's certainly taught me to look more carefully at what I pick up in a bookshop.

So, what's the worst book you've ever read?


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