I'm looking for a word for "bad" books, or "bad" literature, something that describes the book as "poor" not by being necessarily "bad written", but by author's lack of knowledge about the subject, or by being just a bunch of things the author took from his own mind and sold as "a general law" about that subject.

I have a teacher who once used the expression "airport literature", and it's cool, but I'm not sure people understand its meaning without proper explanation. I also thought about "cheap" or "poor" literature (or books), yet I'm not sure people get it, as they could think I'm talking about a low price book, or even worst: they might think I'm judging the people who are reading as "poor", and I don't want to take the risk of a misunderstanding about it.

I'll try to narrow the possible answer by giving more details about the kind of book I'm talking about. A "bad" book, in the way I'm trying to express, means:

  • A book written by a disqualified author in the subject (like Britney Spears writing about, i.e., neuroscience). Something the author think to know everything about, but he never deeply studied the subject.
  • A book meant to be a specialized content in a certain subject, but that is actually poor and filled with lots of clichés and common sense contents.

Do you know the word I'm looking for? Something that express what I said?

Thanks in advance.

PS: Edited. And I apologize for the huge change, but I wasn't framing my question in the right understandable way.

  • 1
    The first terms that come to mind are "pulp fiction" and "dime-store novel", referring to lurid subject matter and less than exceptional writing style. But these are typically applied only to fiction (except when used sarcastically, where one might say that "Birther" writing is "pulp fiction").
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Jan 17, 2017 at 0:22
  • 1
    english.stackexchange.com/questions/211750/… Hack-job was used for something close once... I knew the term but I'm not sure many would
    – Tom22
    Commented Jan 17, 2017 at 1:53
  • 1
    From the question you link, "hack" or "hackwork" would generally apply. "Formulaic" is another term.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Jan 17, 2017 at 2:47
  • I think you're both on the way, @HotLicks and Tom22. Yet I think it emphasizes thee poor writing and the use of cliches; but I also want to 'emphasize' a lack of knowledge. I'll try to edit the question to make it more clear, maybe I should remove some details that made it confusing for you. Thanks anyway!!
    – Ágatha
    Commented Jan 17, 2017 at 4:33
  • I think we understand your general drift (though your description could bear improvement). We just can't think of any terms that are more apt.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Jan 17, 2017 at 4:35

5 Answers 5


I would probably call such a book trash or junk in the sense of low quality. Both of these are often used in referring to books, but interestingly, the word trash is more often associated with fiction, while junk is more often associated with non-fiction.

Here's a list of "trash novels".

A trash novel is a poor quality novel, a junk history book is a bad quality or inaccurate book.

  • do you think "junk" would fit those books about leadership that fall in your hands the whole time? Those whose authors write a lot of bullshit about "how to become a leader", even though they never read a line of real science about leadership? I'm still thinking, but looks like "junk" is the word I'm looking for... Though, I didn't find so much examples of the use in this context after googling a little bit.
    – Ágatha
    Commented Jan 17, 2017 at 4:47

You could say the literature is "uninformed" or that it "lacks credibility".

Uninformed: not educated or knowledgable : not having or based upon information or awareness : not informed

As the author of the piece is not an expert, his/her writing is largely uninformed.

Credibility: the quality of being believable or worthy of trust

As the author of the piece is not an expert, his/her writing lacks credibility.



of, relating to, or suitable for a person with little taste or intellectual interest · a lowbrow horror movie


subliterature n. OED

Novels and other printed matter having popular appeal and considered to be of no lasting artistic merit; a type of this.

and from The Free Dictionary:

Writings, such as romance novels and mysteries, that appeal to popular tastes and are often considered inferior in style and content to more artistic literature.

As in: (no sample sentence was provided)

The dictionary citation gives this example:

2006 T. Andrae C. Barks & Disney Comic Bk. While film, jazz, and video have been elevated to the level of art, comics have traditionally been considered subliterature.


Crass, Philistine, Naive, Boorish, Gross. And then I found Is there a word for a "cheap page-turner"?

Schlock. See https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/schlock

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