Friday Coffee Chat (10) – Are some books a waste of paper?

Last week I took the week off for Friday Coffee Chat because BlogFest was starting and I was a participant. Jennifer at Girls Gone Reading did a fantastic post about authors that are overblown and overexposed. It created some good discussion and if you haven’t read it, I definitely recommend dropping by her blog to read and comment on it. Of course, I had a lot to say about it!

This week Jennifer is talking about women in literature and how they seem to always fall into certain stereotypes in her post, Just Half a Girl. I know almost everyone has an opinion about that so make sure you check out her post!


This week I want to talk about those books that you abhorred so much that you a) thought they were a waste of paper, b) thought they were too bad to even give away to a friend, and/or c) left you questioning how the book got published in the first place.

First up is Eragon. I have no worries about Christopher Paolini weeping about my dislike of this book because if he is, he’s certainly weeping into $100 bills. This book was WILDLY popular. Everyone read it and loved it. Oh all these people on Shelfari, Amazon, and other forums where people talk about books just fell all over themselves about this book. You know what?!! I thought it was terrible. Not only do I think he stole parts of his story from just about every fantasy writer and series that I liked, I think he did it blatantly. Some of the names were changed by one letter or not even changed at all. There are several blogs/websites that go into greater detail than I will here, but here are a few examples:
  • Arya -- He has an elf character named Arya. So does George R.R. Martin in his Song of Ice and Fire series that was published seven years earlier.
  • Lord of the Rings -- Oh there are so many names here that it’s just annoying. How about The Lonely Mountain, The Grey Folk, Elessari (Elessar in LotR) to name just a few.
  • The similarities in storyline or unique elements in other books by other authors--Earthsea and Pern I thought were VERY similar in some ways and on another site someone said that David Eddings work was also plagiarized.
Here are two sites that have gone into greater detail: Pixie Dust and Matchstick. Check them out if you are interested.

A lot of people say that Paolini was so young when he published the book that it is a feat in and of itself for him to create such a work. Does that give him a pass? Hmmm...not in my book because last time I checked, you could be thrown out of college for plagiarism. Why does it not work the same in high school? Yeah, I don't buy it. Paolini gets a big thumbs down and a razzberry from me. Luckily, I borrowed this book so I didn’t have to throw it in the fireplace.

The next book I thought was not worth the paper it was printed on was Web of Debt by Ellen Hodgson Brown. This book was about the Fed and how corrupt and secretive it is. Sounds like an interesting topic and had the potential to be a very good book, but it just devolved into cheap conspiracy theorist fodder that I had trouble even finishing. I finished it only because it was for a book group, but any author that purports the Middle Ages to be a time of prosperity for most people gets a thumbs down in my book. I guess she’s overlooking the fairly short life expectancy during the Middle Ages for the obvious benefit of seeming to have endless amounts of leisure time to build cathedrals and other massive buildings without any fear of starvation for their families. I’m paraphrasing here, but she advocated the use of different forms of currency and bartering instead of a national monetary system and lauded the use of things like “Ron Paul dollars” while glossing over the South’s economic crisis during the Civil War when the Southern states had numerous currencies which eventually contributed to the collapse of the economy. There were so many contradictions in this book that it just became a jumbled mess. A lot of the things she argued for as a solution, she refuted as a problem in other parts of the book. I’m so embarrassed that I bought this book that I considered using it as kindling in my fireplace. Yup...I actually considered burning a book until I found this awesome wreath made by Julie on Book Hooked Blog. I don’t have to feel guilty about burning a book, but I don’t have to have massive guilt for contributing to someone else’s delinquency by passing it on to read.

These two books obviously have an audience. There are 149 reviews of Web of Debt on of which gave the book 5 stars. Some people in my group even enjoyed the book as did my Dad who thought it was excellent. As far as Eragon goes, Christopher Paolini is bathing in a shower that shoots out $100 bills so plenty of people have obviously loved his book. Still, I was so upset after I read these two books (as you can see in my description of them) that I could never, ever in good conscience send these books on to someone else.

So my question for this week’s Friday Coffee Chat is:

Have you ever had such a negative visceral reaction to a book you threw it away or refused to pass it on to someone else (or made a pretty arts and crafts project out of it)?

If so, let us know why OR tell me why you think I am way off base for refusing to pass on certain books that other people might actually enjoy.
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