One-Minute Book Reviews

March 15, 2007

Grand Prize Winner 2007 Delete Key Awards: ‘Toxic Bachelors’ by Danielle Steel

The grand prize winner of the 2007 Delete Key Awards competition for the year’s worst writing in books is …

Toxic Bachelors by Danielle Steel

C’mon, you’re probably saying, this one was too easy. Sure, Danielle Steel writes at a fourth-grade level (technically, grade 4. 8), according to the readability statistics that are part of the spell-checker on Microsoft Word. But don’t we all know how bad her writing is? Not if you haven’t read Toxic Bachelors. You may not be surprised to hear that this novel has plenty of unintentionally comic lines like: “‘Yes,’ he said succinctly.” But it’s worse than you think.

Nobody expects social realism from Steel, but it’s still shocking to find Jews portrayed as monsters in this novel. Toxic Bachelors is about three men single men, each of whom represents a spiritual as well as social type. Charlie is WASP-y, Gray makes a religion of art, and Adam is Jewish. Guess which one has a weak father, a mother who is “a nagging bitch” and a spoiled sister? That’s right, Adam. His parents are cruel enough to make the Portnoys look like candidates for a lifetime achievement award from Parents magazine. And he has a special contempt for a sister who committed the ultimate sin: “She had never done anything with her life except get married and have children.”

Steel gets away with this because most critics have written her off and no longer review her. Why review somebody, the thinking goes, who writes only mindless romances? Toxic Bachelors presents an answer: If nobody holds her accountable, she’ll keep serving up nasty stereotypes, masquerading as a fairy tale.

Original review on One-Minute Book Reviews: Oct. 28, 2007, “Danielle Steel Gets Toxic,” archived with the October posts and in the “Novels” category.

The first and second runners-up were announced earlier today. The full short list appeared on Feb. 28 and the titles of books that received Honorable Mentions for the list on March 2. A list of questions and answers about the Delete Key Awards appeared on Feb. 27. All of these posts are archived with those of the month in which they appeared on One-Minute Book Reviews. Thank you for visiting this site.

Visit for information about the creator of the Delete Key Awards, Janice Harayda, a novelist and award-winning journalist has been the book columnist for Glamour, the book editor of the (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, and a vice-president of the National Book Critics Circle.

© 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.


  1. Interesting assesment. This was a bit of a surprise considering the supposed literary merit of the two runners-up…but I like your reasoning:

    “If nobody holds her accountable, she’ll keep serving up nasty stereotypes, masquerading as a fairy tale.”

    I still vote for Scott Smith’s “The Ruins.” However, after reading some of the lines from the books you picked as winners, Mr. Smith is in a completely different league in terms of his writing ability. I can’t think of any line from his book that is nearly as bad as the ones you pointed out. Thank you for convincing me to avoid “The Emperor’s Children.” You have saved me time and money.

    Comment by David Schleicher — March 15, 2007 @ 12:14 pm | Reply

  2. And thank you for directing me to Smith. I’ll keep an eye out for “The Ruins” (and his future books). I’ll need to come up with a new crop of bad writers for next year’s list, because I wouldn’t want too many authors to make repeat appearances in consecutive years (deserved though this might be, especially in the case of Steel, who seems to be writing about three books a year now). You might look as though you were beating up on some authors if you kept putting them on the list every year when there’s so much bad writing out there from so many writers. So please keep the suggestions coming. The Delete Key posts are getting very heavy traffic, so comments like yours may be helpful to others, too.

    Comment by 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom — March 15, 2007 @ 1:14 pm | Reply

  3. […] First Runner-Up (who will take the crown if the winner cannot fulfill its duties), and the Winner is […]

    Pingback by 101 Reasons to Stop Writing : » Aside: The Delete Key Awards for the Year’s Worst Fiction — October 30, 2007 @ 8:00 am | Reply

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