Most-Hated Books

A thread in a Facebook group I belong to begins with one writer’s most-hated book: The Fountainhead. I immediately feel a chime of agreement. Though I’ve never read The Fountainhead, I did force myself to finish Atlas Shrugged after a friend said it was her favorite book. There’s no way I would subject myself to another Ayn Rand screed posing as a story.

Some love it, some don't.

Some love it, some don’t.

But further down the thread, other members of the group express different ideas. Their most-hated books and authors include some of my favorites: The Princess Bride, by William Goldman; J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books as well as The Casual Vacancy; anything by Barbara Kingsolver; something else by Stephen King. There were also the usual suspects: Hemingway, Faulkner, Austen, and Moby Dick on the “literature” side, Fifty Shades and Twilight among the commercially successful. One that surprised me was how many hate Holden Caulfield.

I didn’t bother to raise my voice in agreement with the Ayn Rand haters, but I read every post until my Internet connection clicked off. If anything, it should make writers very, very happy to know that such famous and popular authors are also thoroughly hated by a few. You can’t please everybody, so you might as well write what pleases you. A few rejections might just mean that you haven’t yet reached the readers who love your work.

Proofreading defined

Outside the book publishing industry, the term proofreading can have many different meanings. When it comes to books, though, it is a very specific stage. Proofreading is the last thorough, page-by-page look at a book, usually done simultaneously by the author and a freelancer, before it is sent to the printer for folding and gathering.

Proofreading is not the time for the proofreader (or the author) to change voice or style or decide that figures should be moved. Every change after first pages are typeset will cost the publisher money, whether the designer is in-house or freelance. The book’s project manager will go over the changes suggested by the proofreader, and anything that is not absolutely necessary will be crossed off in blue pencil with a big STET (let stand).

But some changes are unavoidable. If the running heads in one chapter are wrong, they must be changed. If a name is misspelled, it should be corrected. Widows and orphans should be fixed, and every caption should be scrutinized to make sure it fits its figure. There are also some changes that are expected, such as page numbers added to the table of contents and list of figures. Proofreaders will also add page numbers to the running heads in the notes section.