Can everyone please, please, please fucking stop it.

Just stop.

Just… Just take a second. Take a breath, and if that’s not enough, then fucking take another one. Or go for a walk. Or look at a tree. Or kiss a baby. Or volunteer at a shelter.

Or maybe (and this would be the most helpful), pick up a book written before the 1900s and read it.

Read it.

From cover to cover.

Hell, I’ll even set wide boundaries—1465 to 1952. That’s 487 years. Four hundred and eighty-seven years of English literature (including translated foreign works) to draw upon. 400 + 87 years of books and thought and philosophy and insight and love and hate and pain and healing and ideas and wonders and fears—487 years of literature—to choose from to read.

Choose damned near any of it.

Choose one.

Now.

And when you’ve done that, and when you’re in the middle of fucking stopping (per my request at the beginning of this piece), and when you’ve read the book, and when you’ve finished it, and when you’ve formed an opinion about it, THEN!

Then!

And only then, will I allow you to write.

Then and only then, will I allow you to say that you are a “book addict” and a “bibliophile”.

Then and only then, will I allow you to post to #BookTok about the books you love.

Or maybe, one book isn’t enough.

How about 10?

Ten in the span of 487 years is minuscule.

So, read ten of them instead.

Read ten—cover to cover—and then you can say you love books, and then you can be allowed to write.

Asshole? You think I’m an asshole? That me saying these things makes me an asshole?

Maybe it does.

Hell, for sure it does.

So, yes! Yes! Yes, I, Ashleigh Hatter, am an asshole, and I wear that label with pride.

I will wear that label and stick by what I said.

All “book lovers” and all writers—aspiring and published—need to fucking pump the brakes, and fucking stop. Seriously.

Like, hard stop; dig in your heels; atten-hut, or however you want to phrase it.

I need y’all to calm the fuck down and stop, because if you keep moving forward, things are going to get so so so so much worse.

Things? What things?

Try books, for an answer.

That’s why this site is here, right? To examine and explore and study and appreciate books and stories and writing, right? We’ve got podcasts and original written content and funny memes and all of that stuff. Drunken Pen Writing is a place where a few irreverent idiots have a fun time talking about our passions for the written word.

We love and hate the classics.

We love and hate poetry.

We love and hate graphic novels and comics.

We love and hate cinema.

We love and hate lists about the 50 scariest books of all time.

We love and hate so so so many things that all tie into the act of writing and what’s been written. We love the prose of one book and detest the cadence of another. We love the characters in one story and openly scream with hatred over the characters in another. We boil with equal parts envy and awe at the perfectly executed structure and arc of one hidden gem while lighting a popular tome on fire out of irritation.

We love and hate books, for many many reasons.

But there is one thing that I, myself, hate solely, and do not love.

Can you guess what it is?

Can you?

If you read any of my reviews, it may stand out fairly obvious.

Too lazy to go check them out (I don’t blame you)?

Okay.

Well.

The one thing about books that I hate and have absolutely no love for is…

CONTEMPORARY.

FUCKING.

WRITERS.

AND THEIR FUCKING PISSANT BORING FUCKING BOOKS.

I’m over it, guys.

I’m over it.

I. Am. Over it.

I have tried so hard to read and appreciate the work of my contemporaries. I have tried so hard to read more modern books and give reviews so y’all know what to look for on your next trip to the library. I have tried so fucking hard to like these authors, I really have. (Ask Caleb. He’ll testify and provide the evidence of my text rants.)

But guys.

I can’t do this anymore.

Yes, there are some modern books that I’ve enjoyed and love, and that I’ve even reviewed for the site. Pretty much all of them were found as a fluke; wandering the aisles of my local library in search of something to pass the time. And lots of these were books that I knew were no more than the equivalent of spending ten bucks to see a matinee showing of the first Iron Man on a Sunday afternoon. They’re cheesy and fun and have no other purpose than to entertain. They don’t try to be the next “blockbuster” book trend. They don’t try to build an ever-expanding universe like the try-hard cousin to the MCU. They don’t try to present themselves as deep, thoughtful, complex, or provocative.

They exist to entertain.

And they do just that.

They entertain.

They’re full of flaws and plot holes and they are STILL a shit ton of fun despite it.

There are no messages, nor agendas.

There are no “OMG, I need to get online and make endless character aesthetics about this MC and ship them with other characters and totally make them my fucking fictional boyfriend/girlfriend lol #BookTok #writingcommunity #writerslife”.

It’s literally just a book about a hero completing a journey of self and service, and in the end, good wins.

Light.

Airy.

Whimsical.

Laughable.

Distracting.

Fun.

And still a billion times better than the feckless retarded work that proliferates and takes up space on social media.

Why the fuck is it trendy to like shitty books?

Why?

And you may be saying “Oh, but Ashleigh, liking a book is a matter of taste, and they may just have different tastes than you.” And to that I’d say:

“That’s valid when talking about work with some notable virtue about it (virtue being entertainability, moral lessons, philosophical inquiry, serving as a mirror to society or self, etc.), but when it comes to Sarah J Maas, and Brandon Sanderson, and Josh Malerman, and Stephen Graham Jones, and Paul Tremblay, and Leigh Bardugo, and Colleen Hoover, and Agustina Bazterrica, and Eric LaRocca, and any number of other TikTok famous/trending authors, the opinion of taste is unanimous. Because there is none.”

These “writers” are famous and gaining fame.

These “writers” are famous and being lavished with praise and money and developing reputations that they don’t deserve.

These “writers” are tasteless idiots who need to stop being idolized and pushed onto readers.

These are “writers” that the publishing industry needs to actively stop trying to encourage writers to emulate with their guidelines and “what we’re looking for” sections.

Because these “writers” suck greasy pond scum-covered Chihuahua balls (though considering what Sarah J Maas writes, this may not be much of an insult to her).

Their prose is non-existent. There is no cadence. There is no rhythm. There is no flow. There is no pacing.

It’s written as a fucking list of things with a shit ton of adjectives thrown on top to make it seem like a story (seriously Sanderson, how fucking long does it take to walk down a hallway). But it’s not.

Writing in list form is how Stephenie Meyer writes. Everything is “Bella looked over here. Then she did this. Then she did this. [And she couldn’t believe how beautiful he was]^6,000.” It’s a really dry, really bland, really boring way to write a story, and for me, getting through Twilight was damned near impossible.

I didn’t read the follow-up books because I couldn’t bring myself to read more lists.

In fact, I never wanted to read another list book again.

So, imagine my disappointment when I began reading books that were being touted as the new and hip thing, the books that everyone was raving over, the books that you absolutely had to read if you wanted to keep up with the trends in the publishing industry. I read them. I read so so many of them.

I read horror.

I read romance and erotica.

I read fantasy.

I read science fiction.

I read literary works.

I read mysteries and thrillers.

And every. Fucking. Single. One of them ate porcupine taint.

Every single one that was lauded and said to be amazing.

Every title plastered like semen on the college dorm wall that is TikTok and Twitter.

Every title was atrocious.

And I’m fucking over it.

These books are boring. They’re tired. They’re pretentious in the way that vegans are, or the emo kids from the early ’00s were, or like famous actors that forget they’re only famous because they play pretend for a living and not for anything else they do with their lives.

These books are empty of beauty and structure and music. Reading these books is like listening to a guitar tuner set to F# and it never wavers. Yeah, it’s a note, but it’s not a fucking song.

These books are pointless. There is no message and there is no goal. Even a purpose as simple as entertaining the reader isn’t achieved because it’s so drab. Every page is full (though not really, since the margins are spaced to 1.2″ and the font is sized up and the spacing between lines is 1.5x, so that the max word count on every page is 200-250 words, thereby giving the reader the feeling of rapidly progressing through the 350-page book, which historically would have contained 110k to 150k words, but which now only contains 75k-90k words of shallow shit, and is akin to reading a novella) of tired cliches, painfully fumbled tropes, empty worlds, pointless dialogue, ridiculous sex scenes, and boring action scenes.

These books… Are. Not. Good.

So, can we please stop saying they are?

Can we please stop promoting them?

Because the future writers of the world are clinging to these books as if they’re good, and their own writing is being infected with the cholera that is contemporary fiction, and as we all know: where cholera reigns, only the black shit and death will remain.

Come on, guys…

Let’s do better, okay?

Books are mystical portals through time and space, where the greatest storytellers of the past can still share their ideas and thoughts and voice with the future. Books can teach us and push us to greater heights. Books and the stories they contain mold minds and scare the powers that be. Stories are powerful. Stories are the only things in the world that distract us from the drudgery of the day-to-day and console us when we are frightened.

So, stop letting shit writers with no storytelling abilities influence the publishing world.

Stop letting these jokes shape the course of books and stories.

Books can be awesome, and they can do so much, and they can touch innumerable lives. But not when they’re all focusing on being the next Marvel MCU. Not when they’re all focusing on trying to get a new Netflix Original Series. Not when the people behind these fucking wastes of paper and glue have no talent or skill and are stealing the spotlight from new ideas and new creatives that will push books and storytelling to new heights.

So, before you reach for that new Sarah J Maas or Josh Malerman novel, fucking stop. Just stop.

And choose a good book.

While you’re here, check out some of these other interesting articles!

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.