What’s Wrong with a Readable Book?

October 22, 2011 | 2

There is a controversy brewing right now in Britain about readability and excellence in literature. Apparently, being “readable” is no longer a compliment.

is an intern for The Millions. She was born in Los Angeles and is currently earning her MFA in Creative Nonfiction at The New School. Her work can be found at thenewyorker.com and at her blog, rachelhurn.blogspot.com. Follow Rachel on Twitter @rachelmariehurn.


  1. An excellent article and an apropos analogy. I see nothing wrong with a readable book and Julian Barnes was an excellent choice. There are many books that I have tried to read that were just too turgid in style to make the effort worthwhile. Many of them works of great acclaim, Molloy is one that stands out in my mind, and William Gass’s The Tower, and anything by David Foster Wallace. But then again, so is Dan Brown unreadable, in my opinion, because he writes for people with a taste for story but no taste for language. There is a very fine line between pure story telling and pure writing, somewhat akin to a tightrope, upon which literature exists. Getting the balance right is what makes all the difference.

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