The thing that makes me craziest is when people dismiss any book, especially bestsellers, using the words "trash," "terrible," or "suck" and its variants without further comment, or worse, when people say something along the lines of "well most published books suck anyway." My teeth are chattering at the thought. CH-CH-CH-CHAATTEERRIINNGGG...Read the whole thing. Here Bransford applies one of my favorite aphorisms, namely that intent is ultimately the thing. We can approach books in any number of ways, but until we understand what the author wanted to accomplish we’re missing the main point from the get-go.
And quod erat demonstrandum pro quo tempura I don't actually know Latin, the one question that aspiring writers should never ask themselves when reading a book is, "Do I like this?" ...
The real question aspiring writers should ask is not whether they liked a book, but whether they think the author accomplished what they set out to accomplish. ... If the author set out to write a cracking thriller did they write a cracking thriller? If they wanted to create beautiful prose and make us think deeper about ourselves, how well did they do that?
Once you start looking at an author's intent, you'll start to see where they succeeded and didn't succeed at what they were trying to accomplish. And you'll also start seeing that what most megabestsellers have in common is that the authors were phenomenal at delivering the thing(s) they set out to accomplish and at giving readers the experiences they wanted to give them. You'll start absorbing the positive attributes of books you might not even like all that much.
(Picture: CC 2009 by jakebouma)