Today I want to talk about writing negative reviews and thus un-recommending books to readers. I wrote a guest post for Oh, the Books! on reviewing average books in which I tried to explain my dislike for doing just that. But I have a different problem with writing negative reviews of books I disliked.
Namely: What if you read my review, decide not to read the book, and miss out on the experience of a lifetime? o_O (This is me right now.)
Ok so I’m placing a huge amount of importance on my own reviews/opinions but I have been in a situation where a commenter wrote something like: “Eh, I’ve had this book on my tbr for ages but now that I see you didn’t like it, I think I’ll pass (or move it way down the list).” WHAT? NO!!! This was not my intention.
Well, sometimes it probably was. There are books I disliked so thoroughly that I wouldn’t recommend them to anyone (except maybe my enemies – because revenge by terrible book is sweet) and would in fact actively discourage people from searching them out. These are books that feature behaviour that is unacceptable: sexist, racist, stupid. But in truth, these books are rare. I will often stop reading them in the middle because I don’t want to throw my life away by reading trash.
But then there are books that just weren’t meant for me. Either I’m not the intended audience (I’m not religious, for example, or particularly spiritual either, so inspirational books tend to… irritate me), I’m not in the right mood, or I accidentally pick up a book that features one of my many pet peeves. Whatever the reason, the result is the same: I didn’t like the book.
Now what? I write the review, rate the poor book with a 3/5 or lower rating and list the reasons for my dismissal (some of which are purely emotional, not rational at all). This is where you, the readers, come in.
In this world of plentiful books and crazy to-be-read lists I tend to rely on several factors to choose the book I’ll read next. One of those is the opinion of those bloggers and reviewers that approximately share my taste in books. Now, I know I’m no trendsetter here and that no book will become a flop if I rate it badly, but hear me out.
Imagine this scenario: I review a book. You see the title of the post in your reader, click on it and immediately scroll down to where I put my (bad) rating. You’re in a hurry that day and merely skim the review, noting several bolded sentences in which I rant over something that bothered me. You’ve had that book on your tbr but never got around to it and now you think: “Huh. Maybe I’ll just give it a pass for now.”
This has happened to me so many times. I respect the opinion of my favourite bloggers because I assume we’re a bunch of smart, well-read people. And to be honest, I don’t mind being on the receiving end of such an un-recommendation. But to be the source of one? So much responsibility!
What if that book was actually meant for you? What if you’ve missed on the story that would change your life? (Ok so I’m being overly dramatic here but you get the point, right?) What if, to sum it up, you miss out on a really good piece of fiction just because I was in a bad mood when I read it?
Honestly, I have no answer for you. This ramble doesn’t mean I’ll change my review strategies or that I’ll suddenly start giving better ratings to books I disliked. That’s not how this works. But I wanted to point out this dilemma and see if any of you struggle with it sometimes (probably? perhaps? maybe?).
Do you think of your readers when you rate and review books? Or do you do it for yourself?
Does the number of your followers make you feel more responsible?
I’d love to hear your take on this issue, so talk to me! ;)