Way back in December 2010 I was feeling frustrated with the apparent sameness that dominated my bookshelves, and struggling with a 52 Books in 52 Weeks agenda that meant squeezing the final 34 books into the last 4 weeks of the year (blame my propensity for epic fantasy tomes).
On a whim (and I suppose, heavily inspired by Robin Ince’s Bad Book Club) I decided to shake things up and add some variation to the list of books I’d read. Crap Looking Books was born, and had me scrabbling around markets and second hand book stalls looking for the most ridiculously awesome and awesomely ridiculous books I could find.
This made sense for a time, but being a writer myself with a fairly substantial understanding of the publishing industry, ripping into supposedly dreadful books because of how dreadful they were didn’t really sit right with me, and wasn’t about to make me any friends, so I widened my scope to include not just the garish and ridiculous but the plain and forgettable- books that are so normal looking they might get passed over, books that by their very simplicity and ordinariness are deserving of a little more attention.
“But what happened to not judging books by their covers?” I hear you cry.. Well, nothing happened to it, and it’s actually a perfectly valid way of judging books that you can read all about here.
Yes, Crap Looking Books judges books by their covers, but then goes deeper to find out if those judgements hold true. It’s about what lies behind those point-of-sale decisions we make when buying books, and the methods that publishers, writers and artists use to influence those decisions. It’s about shaking expectations and using a writer’s eye to question mistakes or strokes of genius, and ask just how intentional they might have been.
It’s about taking a look at what quietly passed for popular literature in the past century or so, and holding it to account today.
It isn’t about taking a swing at the big names or the obvious abominations. Maybe JK Rowlling needs to be taken down a peg or two, maybe the Twilight Series is massively overrated, and maybe (MAYBE?!) 50 Shades of Grey is deplorable trash.. but all three of those series featured effective cover art and ridiculous sales figures, paving the way for a gaggle of rip-offs and pastiches far more worthy and interesting for review.
With the recent move to a slicker dot-com and a fresh, less diary-like design, Crap Looking Books is all set to start enthusiastically and constructively ripping some literature apart!