I Don’t Know If It’s Art

But I Know What I DIS-like

By Jeff Salter

This week’s topic is about the kind of book [or genre] we really dislike. Gosh, this is more difficult that I imagined — it’s much easier for me to list what I LIKE in a book. Namely… plot, characters, dialog, setting, premise, and writing that keeps my interest. Those features could be in non-fiction, fiction… or even plays and poetry.

And it’s not as simple as stating what types of reading material “turns me off.” It’s more a matter of me being highly jealous of my reading time and therefore not wanting to waste any of it on something unworthy of my attention. Sound snobbish? Maybe so.

Our Wednesday Fox, Joselyn, had a list which closely parallels my own, in terms of what I don’t wish to read: “stories that contain anything with the occult, demons, fallen angels, vampires, devils, zombies, anything with thick ties to the underworld.” I don’t recall if Joselyn explained WHY she veers from such material, but I suspect it’s for a similar reason to my own: It’s spiritually counterproductive to allow those images inside my head.

— # # # # # —

Let me offer two examples of things I read that totally creeped me out.


Amityville Horror

Having seen a bit of the post publication buzz about this supposedly true story, I happened upon a copy of the book (back around 1977). It started out interesting enough, as I recall — giving a bit of background on the house, the brutal murders which had previously occurred there, and introducing us to the family who’d just purchased the place (unawares) and were moving in. Then the author began describing the going’s on. I had literal chills… and my goosebumps developed goosebumps. I got so scared that I simply could not finish reading. To this day, I don’t think I’ve read the rest, though I have since read some articles that debunk some – perhaps most – of the claims made by that family (or that author). Did all that terrifying stuff really happen? Don’t know… and I won’t be delving into it closely enough to find out. There have been at least two movie versions of this book and I have not seen either — nor do I intend to.


Creepy and Eerie

As a kid, I watched what then were called “horror” movies… but which were nothing like the horror flicks of recent decades (with gore and mindless brutality… and a high count of nubile, often only partly-dressed young bodies). Anyway, along with horror movies of the fifties and sixties, I naturally read some of the more popular horror magazines of that period. Chief among these were Creepy and Eerie. Well, that ended on the occasion when I was reading a bit too late in the evening, after dark… alone in the house. Some story about a detective trying to find out which of the members of the household was the actual vampire. Had a surprise ending… and by the time I’d reached it, I had skeered myself nearly to death. That was the last time – I’m pretty sure – that I read Creepy or Eerie as a kid. Certainly the last time I read either at night… when I was alone.


When the Hero or Heroine Dies at the End

I’m not going to name this author, because I don’t care to bring him any more attention than he already has. [If you simply have to know who I’m referring to — and cannot guess by my context — then just search the term “notebook”.]

This very popular, best-selling author took the reading world by storm after one of his short novels was made into a popular movie. For a while after that, he seemed to crank out title after title in which the heroine died at the end. He seemed to crave causing sobs at his endings. That reputation may or may not be well-deserved — I don’t know. I’ve read only one of his titles and was singularly un-impressed… and therefore felt no yearning to try any others. But at least one acerbic reviewer condensed nearly of this author’s existing novels (at that time) into one basic outline. And the outline of nearly all ended with the death of the heroine. Is that unfair to this author? I don’t know. Maybe some of you have read all of his work and can say whether he has more variety than this particular reviewer found at that point. But my observation in all this is simply that I have no desire to read a book in which I’ve become fond of the major characters… and then have them die on me. No, I don’t want to cry at the end of a story.

Other no-nos

Are there other types of material I should not read? Certainly. There are numerous things I should not pollute my mind with. But, in addition, I don’t wish to waste valuable reading time on anything that’s poorly written, poorly edited, or material using unreliable (or even altered) research. I don’t wish to read authors who “talk down” to me, as if I’m a nincompoop. On the other hand, I also don’t care for ultra-detailed scientific mumbo-jumbo… because I’m not smart enough to understand it. And I don’t care!


What about YOU? What type books (or genres) do you dislike?

[JLS # 383]


About Jeff Salter

Currently writing romantic comedy, screwball comedy, and romantic suspense. Fourteen completed novels and four completed novellas. Working with three royalty publishers: Clean Reads, Dingbat Publishing, & TouchPoint Press/Romance. "Cowboy Out of Time" -- Apr. 2019 /// "Double Down Trouble" -- June 2018 /// "Not Easy Being Android" -- Feb. 2018 /// "Size Matters" -- Oct. 2016 /// "The Duchess of Earl" -- Jul. 2016 /// "Stuck on Cloud Eight" -- Nov. 2015 /// "Pleased to Meet Me" (novella) -- Oct. 2015 /// "One Simple Favor" (novella) -- May 2015 /// "The Ghostess & MISTER Muir" -- Oct. 2014 /// "Scratching the Seven-Month Itch" -- Sept. 2014 /// "Hid Wounded Reb" -- Aug. 2014 /// "Don't Bet On It" (novella) -- April 2014 /// "Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold -- Dec. 2013 /// "Echo Taps" (novella) -- June 2013 /// "Called To Arms Again" -- (a tribute to the greatest generation) -- May 2013 /// "Rescued By That New Guy in Town" -- Oct. 2012 /// "The Overnighter's Secrets" -- May 2012 /// Co-authored two non-fiction books about librarianship (with a royalty publisher), a chapter in another book, and an article in a specialty encyclopedia. Plus several library-related articles and reviews. Also published some 120 poems, about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos. Worked about 30 years in librarianship. Formerly newspaper editor and photo-journalist. Decorated veteran of U.S. Air Force (including a remote ‘tour’ of duty in the Arctic … at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland). Married; father of two; grandfather of six.
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17 Responses to I Don’t Know If It’s Art

  1. I didn’t know they had horror comics!
    I know what author you are referring to. I have not read any of his work because I had seen that same review summarizing all of his works. I didn’t want to be left crying at the end of a book. I have a cousin who loves all of his books but it just isn’t for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jeff7salter says:

      that review of N.S.’s work — in addition to being acerbic, was quite humorously phrased. Just the right mixture of disapproval and astonishment that N.S. would stick so closely to that outline… over and over and over.


    • Oh, horror comics were big in the 50s and 60s.I remember the male friends of my sister also bringing in magazines with just people done-up as monsters, (it seems that werewolves were big).

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Patricia Kiyono says:

    I don’t want to close the book with tears, either – unless they’re happy tears. I guess that’s why I write traditional romance, with a happy ending!

    Liked by 1 person

    • jeff7salter says:

      oh, yeah — happy tears are fine. The good guys (hero and heroine) have prevailed and gotten together after all. That final scene in the movie Die Hard is a perfect example to me. And I almost always tear up at the end.


  3. jbrayweber says:

    I personally LOVE scary books. I wasn’t much of a reader growing up, despite that my mom read to me and I had a huge collection of books. It wasn’t until I understood why I didn’t like to read (reading comprehension deficiency) that I started reading for pleasure. The first book I read without having been assigned to it for school was Pet Semetery. I already had a fondness for Vincent Price, Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock, and Edgar Allen Poe-ish movies, so it wasn’t a surprise how much I loved the book. Then I was hooked on Dean Koontz and Anne Rice.

    But this is about what we DON’T like. I don’t like sappy books. Yeah…I write romance and much romance is sappy. While I can appreciate cozy and sweet, if it reminds me of a Hallmark movie, I’m not going to read it. (Sparks would be a definite no.) I want to be swept away, entertained, not try to get “the feels”.

    Great topic!

    Liked by 1 person

    • jeff7salter says:

      yeah, Jenn — I don’t like sappy either. Yet, I do sometimes find myself writing a short scene which (in my prediction, at least) might tug the readers’ heartstrings. One that stands out to me is when Pete Henley’s granddaughter thanks him for his military service during WW2. It made me tear up when I wrote it. [late in my novel, “Called to Arms Again”]

      Liked by 1 person

      • jbrayweber says:

        Tugging on heartstrings is good. But I’m not talking about a scene.
        Ya know, it comes down to how a story is told. I’ve read plenty of stories that had me choking back the tears, pretending someone was cutting onions nearby.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Glad you like the question,Jennifer. It was mine, and I had no idea that everyone else hated anything resembling horror. I will mention not liking sappy tomorrow.I hope you drop in for a look.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Wow, none of the other Foxes or you like any horror at all! I have a real bone to pick with one type of book, which made me think of this topic. I hope everyone drops in.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Kim says:

    I cannot read (or watch) zombies, extreme bloody gore, same sex couples, demonic anything, nothing with more cussing than talking and no f bombs and definitely no GD words. I can skip over or fast forward if it’s a tiny bit but when the ugly is more than the good, I’m done!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • jeff7salter says:

      Your list includes several also on my list. One exception is zombies. For some reason, I’ve enjoyed the Walking Dead series — or at least the first 4 seasons I’ve seen. I think they’ve taken the more recent seasons a bit too far with the violence.


  6. Anonymous says:

    In high school I had to read In Cold Blood, so I don’t like books based on real life gory murders. I don’t care for super sexually explicite interaction in a book – word porn. I’m not a fan of zombie stories but I do watch tv zombies. Books that have. so much discription of the area you forget who was traveling are boring. I hate political diatribes and dirt dishing. I want a book that transports me to be with the characters.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jeff7salter says:

      Glad you mentioned the use of excessive description. When I’m reading a book that’s otherwise interesting, if I come upon a page where the author decided to provide enough detail of some feature for me to construct one in the factory without any blueprints… my eyes just automatically skim over that section until somebody starts talking or moving.


  7. Joselyn says:

    I think I read one of said author’s books where the people didn’t die but the dog did. I never read another one. I’ve seen The Notebook movie and appreciate the premise. Watching a loved one with dementia is heartbreaking.

    You are on track with my issues with horror type books, even spiritual warfare ones. I feel very uncomfortable reading them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jeff7salter says:

      I no longer recall the name of the N.S. book I read, but it was quite predictable, with stock characters who seemed (to me) to be all too one-dimensional.

      Liked by 1 person

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