Friday, July 14, 2017

The Dangerous Lure of Reviewing Books I Didn't Like

Producing something tangible is satisfying. An article, a doll dress, a fancy dinner, a pretty Christmas ornament. Reading books doesn't in itself create that sense of accomplishment, unfortunately, especially when the books are on my Kindle and never make a physical appearance here, there, or anywhere.

Perhaps that is why it creates a sense of having done something, having produced, when I leave a review on Goodreads or a blog.

The problem arises when I read a book that disappoints. A book that makes me angry at the author for squandering the rich potential of her premise or her characters. It would be so satisfactory to review it! I can hear the dissection of errors in my head. It would be fun to write that dissection down. Besides, it would break the silence of my Goodreads account.

The problem is that I, too, am aiming for future publication; and I doubt it is a good idea to potentially alienate people I hope to think of as colleagues (or their literary agents). Of course I don't think these folks are particularly likely to be reading what I post on the internet right now, but it's possible someone may Google my name someday. I wouldn't want them to decide I am clearly a person of appalling taste for disliking something they created or helped to sell.

You would think that not writing something would be easy. But sometimes it's hard! That urge to produce, I suppose. Perhaps it's egotistical of me even to think my reviews matter this much. I'm curious: for those of you who write, what are your rules for reviewing?


  1. I'm hoping to write/pursue publication in the future, but right now, I actually focus on reviewing books in the genres I want to write (Christian speculative fiction).

    Personally, I don't write a review for anything that I would rate less than 3 stars and I think long and hard prior to posting a 3 star review. When I write a review where I have something negative to say, I always order my critique as something good about the book, something negative, and then conclude with another good attribute.

    1. That makes sense--it's a lot easier to read criticism of one's work in a format like that.


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