One-Minute Book Reviews

November 30, 2007

Nominate Your Candidates for the 2008 Delete Key Awards for the Year’s Worst Writing in Books

Which of the authors you’ve read this year didn’t use their delete keys enough?

One-Minute Book Reviews will announce the finalists for the 2008 Delete Key Awards for the year’s worst writing in books on February 29, 2008. So it’s not too early to nominate your candidates for these prizes, given to authors who don’t use their delete keys enough.

The Delete Key Awards recognize the worst lines or passages in hardcover or paperback books published in the United States. The grand prize winner and runners-up will be named on March 15, the date of Julius Caesar’s assassination, because all the finalists assassinate the English language with weapons such as clichés, jargon, bad grammar, dumbing down or pomposity.

All books that contain bad writing are eligible for the awards, except for those in the categories listed at the end of this post. But the prizes are intended especially for established authors who have been overpraised or granted unmerited immunity by critics. The 2007 winners were: grand prize, Danielle Steel’s Toxic Bachelors; first runner-up, Mitch Albom’s For One More Day; and second runner-up, Claire Messud’s The Emperor’s Children.

To inspire your nominations, here’s a complete list of last year’s finalists. You can read their offending passages by clicking on the “Delete Key Awards” tag at the top of this post or going to the “Delete Key Awards” category at right.

Finalists for the 2007 Delete Key Awards:

For One More Day by Mitch Albom

The Handmaid and the Carpenter by Elizabeth Berg

Hannibal Rising by Thomas Harris

The Book Club Companion: A Comprehensive Guide to the Reading Group Experience by Diana Loevy

Love Smart: Find the One You Want — Fix the One You Got by Dr. Phil McGraw

The Confession by James McGreevey with David France

The Interruption of Everything by Terry McMillan

The Emperor’s Children by Claire Messud

Toxic Bachelors by Danielle Steel

The Power of Nice: How to Conquer the Business World With Kindness by Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval

Janice Harayda is the sole judge of the Delete Key Awards but enthusastically considers suggestions from visitors to One-Minute Book Reviews. She is a novelist and award-winning journalist who has been the book columnist for Glamour, the book editor of the Plain Dealer in Cleveland and vice-president for awards of the National Book Critics Circle.

Jan does not accept free books from publishers and excludes from consideration for the Delete Key Awards any books that would present a conflict of interest or the appearance of such a conflict. The ineligible books include those published by her current publisher, represented by her literary agent, or written by her friends or enemies. Unfortunately, the publishing axiom is right: You don’t know who your enemies are until you review their books. Or give them a Delete Key Award.

(c) 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.


  1. I’m hoping that it goes without saying that McEwan’s “On Chesil Beach” be nominated. Goodness sakes that was bad. As for a quote demonstrating its badness, just start on page one and keep going.

    Comment by Jon — November 30, 2007 @ 1:53 pm | Reply

  2. I really appreciate the comment, Jon, because I’ve been having a mental debate about exactly that book and the Delete Key Awards. Now that its longlisting for the Bad Sex award has helped to make people aware of how overrated it is, I’ve been wondering if I’d be re-ringing that bell for a lot of people and maybe should call attention to a book with similar but less publicized flaws.

    But I also try to go with the absolute worst writing I can find — without considering external factors such as other awards — so “On Chesil Beach” could well end up on the list. Thanks so much for encouragement.

    Comment by 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom — November 30, 2007 @ 2:42 pm | Reply

  3. Just to further reinforce the matter, I bought the book because the premise sounded interesting. I figured I’d find insight about the world on the cusp of significant social upheaval with the decline of old morals and manners, etc. Instead I got two-dimensional characters, neither of which I cared a whit about. I had to force myself to make it through to the end.

    Comment by Jon — December 1, 2007 @ 9:08 pm | Reply

  4. Yes, that premise — the world on the cusp of change in morals — sounded interesting to me, too. But one of the odd things about “On Chesil Beach” was that the morality of the characters struck me as closer to that of the 1940s or 1950s than the early 1960s, when the novel takes place. I tried to give McEwan the benefit of the doubt on that one, assuming that the situation may have been different in England, but he never fully persuaded me.

    I didn’t deal with that issue in my Aug. 10 review because the novel had so many other problems, so I appreciate your bringing it up Thanks!

    Comment by 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom — December 2, 2007 @ 2:55 pm | Reply

  5. “clichés, jargon, bad grammar, dumbing down or pomposity” – I think my writing must be riddled with the aforementioned sins! Good thing I haven’t written any novels yet…

    Comment by amateurish — December 3, 2007 @ 7:10 pm | Reply

  6. Even is riddled with them, you’re not getting million-dollar advances for it as some of these people are (unless you’re not telling) …

    Comment by 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom — December 3, 2007 @ 7:24 pm | Reply

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