I've read some books I really didn't like lately. Even one I put down. For good. I almost NEVER do that.I'm not sure if I'm becoming more critical or my tastes are changing or I'm just not good at picking out what I think I'll like to begin with.
In the past, I've kept a running list of the books I've read online, mostly at Goodreads, but I'm finding myself conflicted now about how to do this. I am both a reader and a writer, and while I know the value of a good, honest review, I also know how much a writer pours their heart into their books and how subjective opinions are.
I used to give good, honest reviews. Ones I would have liked to have read if I was wondering whether or not to buy a book. I was never harsh or personal about an author, but I didn't flinch from saying a book was definitely not for me because of the way it was written.
Then I was published, and that brings a burden of its own. I don't want to be the writer that is critical of other writers. I hate when authors bash each other, publicly calling each other out as phonies or hacks or undeserved millionaires. Jonathan Franzen and Stephen King have earned poor reputations for publicly denouncing the quality of other writer's books.
(Which made me wonder if semi-famous writers like Ann Patchett or even lesser-famed but well-established and talented writers like Therese Fowler review books in public forums? Certainly they read!)
I also realized how sensitive some writers are about low ratings, and how
mean people can be about something that maybe just isn't their own
If I don't like science fiction, but I try one because everyone is raving about it, is it fair to give it only two stars because I think the plot is outlandish? If I have a pet peeve about casual sex in books aimed at thirteen and fourteen year olds, is that fair to hold that against the book?
Harder yet, reading books by people I know. Between the faculty at school that I adore, the great students I studied with that are putting out their own books now, and you great blogging peeps, I am reading more and more books by people that are personal to me. And not all of those books are up my alley.
I've sat more times that I liked to admit staring at the Goodreads screen wondering what to do. Do I just unlist a book I didn't like, so I don't come off looking like a critical nincompoop? Do I just mark it as "read" but give it no rating or review? Do I give stars but no review? Do I lie?
I have done all of these. Not outright lying... I can't do that. But I have fudged. I have said what I loved about a book - all true - but not mentioned that the things I didn't like overshadowed what I did. I have said, "This wasn't for me, but there are things about it I can see others loving." It's both honest, and lying by omission, but right now it seems the best option.
I don't know if I'll come to a resolution I like, but I'm curious about you. Do you review books publicly - on your blog, Amazon, Goodreads, Library Thing, or some other site? And what do you do about books you don't like?
And, as long as you're here, what's the best book you've read lately?