Monday, March 26, 2012

Craptastic Reads

By Juliet C. Bond

One significant drawback to becoming a better writer is the development of what I want to call a “writer’s palette.”  Like a diner’s palette, the seasoned writer can taste bad writing almost as soon as the first morsel meets his or her mouth. 

This totally blows for the reader within the writer.

This is also why so many writing instructors will tell you to read great writing while you are engrossed in the construction of a novel.

Bad writing will climb under your skin, crawl through your tendons and scar your bones.

Good writing will lift your artistic soul. 

But it will also betray you.

Last week, after a lengthy tousle with my library homepage, I successfully figured out how to download library loans to my Kindle. 

(That’s right, I said it.  KINDLE, paper-lovers!  I feel like a turncoat every time I flick the switch to “on” instead of cracking open a book but let me make my puny defense here…I love a good story.  And the thrill of carrying around 200 good stories with me feels a lot like when I bought my first home – a place to live forever – a place of contentment, companionship and soft pajamas with fuzzy socks.  That is how much I love my Kindle…I am so sorry.)

Anyway, the sad climax to this story is that every one of the five library books I chose were total farts-in-the-room.  I couldn’t fan the stench away fast enough.

I blame this on the last book I read, The Language of Flowers, by VanessaDiffenbaugh

            Fragrant flawlessness.

After a searing upbringing in a variety of abusive foster homes, the main character of this delectable read has become fiercely protective of her emotions.  Throughout the story, she struggles to trust and to forgive herself through the secret meanings behind flowers;

            Camelia = My Destiny is in your hands
            Ivy = Fidelity
            Purple Hyacinth = Please forgive me

When a young man who understands her private language pursues her, the feelings that are stirred up threaten her carefully constructed layers of safety.  In my favorite scene, the main character, under the unaccustomed attention of the young man, withdraws a leafy stem from her backpack and hands it to him with a glare.

Rhododendron = Beware

Days later, she arrives at the market and, in passing; he presses a green, spindly clipping into her hand.

Mistletoe = I surmount all obstacles

Soooo delicious!

And, to add to the perfection of this book, the author has set up an advocacy group for children adjusting after aging out of foster care called the Camellia Network.

I highly recommend this perfect book, but I do so with a big fat warning.  If you are any kind of writer, this book will make your next read a miserable soul-crushing, bitter experience.

As Francis Bacon said (and isn’t it appropriate that this last name was bacon), “Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few are to be chewed and digested.”


  1. Just finished a book that lots of people loved and I really wanted to love it but couldn't do it.
    So thanks for the book recommendation, I could use a beautiful book right now.

  2. There's nothing quite like a "tasty" book, & I think it's a good thing that not all "taste buds" are the same. I recently read a novel that many liked & recommended, but I found it bland. I knew in the first chapter where it would lead, & didn't really want to go there. Hope the next one is a "treat."

  3. Kathy and Gina, try this book! You will really love it!

  4. You're the second person to recommend this novel to me. The TBR pile grows again!

  5. Sounds a little girly girl for me? but on the other hand, I'm pretty secure so why not give it a whirl :)

  6. You would love it, Jon. It has plenty of sarcasm, gritty emotional memories and gorgeous descriptions. Though flowers are a big theme, the over all story is more along the lines of your own writing - powerful, gut wrenching and moving.