Book Review · Books

What Do You Do When You Don’t Like a Book?

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Hello everyone!

I have seen this topic come up quite a bit lately here in the blogosphere and elsewhere (both on Twitter this past week and in Instagram comments) and it has certainly got me thinking.

As readers, bloggers, reviewers, what do you do when you don’t like a book?

I read a lot of books and I try to post at least one book review a week. Inevitably, there will be books I don’t like. Usually when that happens, I choose to not post a review. Sometimes, I’ll post a mini-review and disclose that I didn’t finish the book, state my reasons, and leave it at that.

But sometimes I feel compelled to write a full review because I feel the need to share what I didn’t like and why. Seems like a normal thing a book reviewer or blogger would do, and yet this has a lot of people angry.

One side seems to think it’s outrageous to declare that you didn’t like a book and how dare you put that negativity into the world and yada, yada, yada.

Others seem to think it’s all a part of the reviewing process and it’s okay to do.

I have never tagged an author on a post in which I am speaking negatively about their book. But I will sometimes tag an author if I am posting about their book and giving them praise, because knowing that they also have a social media presence and will know that you, the reader, loved their book – it’s such a fun feeling!

But I don’t agree with the idea that if we don’t like a book we should simply move onto the next one and shut up about it.

I have always clarified in my posts if/when I didn’t like a book simply because it wasn’t the right time for me to be reading it, or I wasn’t in the right mood, or if other outside forces beyond the book itself made me not enjoy it.

But if something really struck me about either the book or the writing, well, as a reader with an opinion I am most likely going to share why.

I guess what I am trying to get at is that I think it’s okay to write bad reviews and we shouldn’t feel the need to “only be nice” when writing reviews. It’s not a matter of only being nice or only being mean; it’s about writing an honest review of your experience reading a book.

I have a hard time only posting “happy” or raving reviews because it doesn’t feel authentic. But I have seen so many people online lately telling others to not share when they didn’t like a book and I think there’s something wrong with that, too.

So, back to my original question: What do you do when you don’t like a book? Do you toss it aside and move onto the next, or do you make a point to write a review anyway so that you can articulate why? Tell me in the comments!

Full disclosure: All of this came from the fact that I read two books last week (Truthwitch and Sophia of Silicon Valley) and ended up not liking either of them. I was undecided about whether or not to post reviews, but went ahead with doing so anyway.


5 thoughts on “What Do You Do When You Don’t Like a Book?

  1. I believe it’s important to tactfully talk about what you didn’t like about a book. Reviews have a lot of subjectivity woven into them. Stuff that you really dislike could be things that I love in a story (and vice versa). The more information potential new readers have, the better!

    I post reviews of books I loved, liked, had mixed feelings about, and disliked. Unless the blurb was seriously misleading in a triggering sort of way, I never post reviews of DNFs. (Even then, I only do so as a kind public service announcement for people who weren’t expecting something traumatic to pop up in a plot twist.)

    But I do trust reviewers who write about books that weren’t always 5-star reads to them much more than I trust the ones that only ever write 100% positive reviews. There’s something to be said for politely mentioning why the dialogue/character development/etc. didn’t work for you in a particular story.

    Not everyone will necessarily agree, and that’s totally okay. But respectfully mentioning those issues is a very good thing IMO (and tagging authors in negative reviews is never a good idea).

    Wow, that was a long comment to type out only to say I agree with you. Ha!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I couldn’t agree with this more, and I think you articulated this whole concept so perfectly! Approaching reviews tactfully and respectfully is something I strive to do, and will continue to attempt to achieve with my book reviews in 2020.


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