(Original post by Radagasty)
That's a specious argument: there are so many books out there that one cannot possibly read them all to determine whether they are 'crap' or not. There are many ways of determining how good a book is: reading reviews, flicking through the book, reading the blurb, asking other people, recommendations, etc. Granted none of these are fool-proof, but it's the best we can do short of reading the book ourselves.
My friends often laugh at me for looking up reviews before watching any movie. Their argument is that I have to watch the movie so that I can determine whether it is worthwhile watching or not. However, I don't have that much time to watch movies, and this completely defeats the purpose of determining whether it is a worthwhile movie to watch or not.
Just as a point of reference, Eeyore said 'worthwhile reading'. If a 'crap' book allows one to develop a broad critical opinion, then it may 'worthwhile reading', depending on what one is looking for in a book. You're the one equating 'crap' with 'not worthwhile'.
If you really believe reading a blurb (which is biased for you to read the book), asking friends or teachers (usually biased in their opinion) even recommendations or reviews are subject to bias. One fool-proof way of knowing the quality of a book is to read it YOURSELF. This way you can your own opinion and are able to compare it to other books.
You are comparing books with movies, and still i would say you need to watch, even begin to watch the movie to have a reliable opinion.
Originally Posted by Eeyore
How was I supposed to know if a book by the same author was as good as The Handmaid's Tale or a load of crap, for example?
She originally made the point of a "crap" novel.
Fair enough with the "worthwhile" and "crap" argument. My point is still, you cannot judge a book to be worthwhile unless you read it. To be further pedantic, worthwhile encompasses a mass of factors. Was it worthwhile to your previous novel choices, exam syllabus, particular interest or field of literature etc.
As a person who has been interviewed for 4 establishmentss, three of them in the top 10 of the country, i know my interviewers desired know my opinion on literature I have read and which reaches far beyond my syllabus (for me it was magical realism). Furthermore, both Cambridge and UCL wanted me to think on my feet and compare literature, however if i had simply dismissed the novel discussed on what somebody else had said it would have been pretty foolish.
And if you would like to read my original point, it was that the girl in question (who is a very strong and intelligent candidate), needs to come across as someone with a passion in English Literature and who takes her own initiative to discover literature. At university, the lecturers advise books to read, but since it is independent study YOU have to search and find other relevant, worthwhile books and READ them (if only excerpts)... AND no matter how crap, non"worthwhile" and boring they are.
I commend eeyore's post, she should try and apply, i was simply providing a sort of taster (of what i experienced). She shouldn't be disheartened, and she may even come across harsher people. (Plus who ever made the ridiculous criticism on her GCSE's, is a moron. Everyone knows that has little relevance!)