The UX of a Bad Book

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I am a pretty avid reader.  I used to read on the train when I used public transportation every day.  These days, I drive 10 minutes to work, so my reading has been fewer minutes per day.  For this reason, it REALLY sucks when a book is bad.

Specifically, I only read non-fiction, either design/psychology books or history/biographies.  Right now, it’s A Disposition to Be Rich: How a Small-Town Pastor’s Son Ruined an American President, Brought on a Wall Street Crash, and Made Himself the Best-Hated Man in the United States.  I should have known it was a bad book based on the rambling title.

Biographies can be awesome books.  Specifically, they are best when they tell a good engaging, dramatic story.  Robert Caro is the best I have ever read at weaving the story from the biography.  However, biographies usually go wrong in the exact same way.  They just chronicle the life of the person.

Jan 14, 1842 | 7:00am: Breakfast was good that day.  The eggs were fresh from the chickens out back.
Jan 14, 1842 | 7:45am: Since the day was slightly colder than usual, he wore his scarf that his mother had knitted for him all those years ago.

Disposition to Be Rich is like this.  The book Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life is also like this.  They are agonizing because there is no drama.  I don’t want to read a play-by-play.  I want to read a story.

The worst part is the feeling I get when I know I want to stop reading.  I feel like I have invested significant time and should finish the book.  Yet, each page digs me deeper into the hole of despair in reading something with no entertaining story.  Giving up feels terrible.

Well, that’s it.  That’s the UX of a bad book.  You don’t want to quit reading midway, but you don’t want to continue either.  I imagine using bad software that is required at work is similar.


Whatya think?