I’m Sorry But I Hate Your Book

I’ve definitely turned a corner over the past few months when it comes to writing up negative reviews.

I read an obscene number of books and gaining perspective on what it is that I do and don’t enjoy –  I’m rapidly gaining confidence in slapping a low star rating on the titles I don’t enjoy reading.

I’ve considered doing ratings for different areas of my reads – storyline, writing style, characters etc. but in all honesty, I can’t be fucked.
I take great enjoyment out of writing my blog and seeing as it’s a labour of love, I see no reason to make it harder on myself.

I’m not obliged to like every book I pick up and given that I read 111 books in 2016, there wasn’t a chance in hell I was going to enjoy all of them. A lot of the books that I read are self published, passed on to me directly from the author and that presents its own problem: the book hasn’t got the endorsement of a known publisher and if you don’t like it, you have the dubious honour of telling the author directly that you think their work is sub-par.

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I’m pretty good at picking books I know I’m going to enjoy, so my reviews are most 4-5 stars but this year I’ve resolved to broaden my horizons and read things I wouldn’t normally pick up but the odds are high that I’ll be finding as many thinks that I dislike as well as like.

As a reviewer, it’s nice to be able to publicly announce ‘I loved this book that an author dedicated years of their life to writing’ and share it with the world but sometimes you just have to be brutal.

Writing  reviews has to be entertaining, you can’t cut out all the fun and somberly pin one star to your review with a ‘better luck next time’ just because a book was embarassingly awful. So, be brutal – just remember to reference at least one positive thing in the book if you can, no matter how small.

In 2016, there were actually two books (one print, one audio) that I actually gave up on halfway through and refused to review on moral grounds. One was so horrendously racist it made me cringe, it was trying to be a satire but failed and the other…. dear god.
The synopsis bragged about how ‘outrageous’ and ‘horrifying’ it was, daring you to listen the whole way through if you dared – obviously that drew me straight in, I love outrageous horror! What made me sick to my stomach though, and I mean physically sick, was that this book was essentially child pornography. Girls under 10 doing unspeakable things to adults, but the author threw in a ‘but they were possessed by the devil’ as if that made the grotesque fantasies he was writing out acceptable.

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I think this is a far cry from last year and my fear of saying anything negative about other people’s work. As long as your review doesn’t get personal, anything you say is golden.

The one thing I have learnt by reading awful books is to be careful of the channels through which I acquire my review copies – don’t accept a book directly from the author unless you think you’re going to like it. They have your contact details now and have every right to have their feelings hurt by criticism, they are real human beings after all.


8 thoughts on “I’m Sorry But I Hate Your Book

  1. lillyrowe says:

    Adore this entire post!adore it! I have to say, as an author/ narrator, we only can get better by criticism and honest reviews. That being said, if someone leaves a review and says,” Didn’t like it” and nothing else,(Which you don’t do) that helps nothing. I once worked with a movie critic in NYC and his biggest pet peeve was when someone said ” I hated that movie ” and when he asked why, if you said “It was weird.” He was done talking to you. Believe me, he and I disagreed on movies all the time, but we had reasons and he always loves talking movies no matter if you disagree with him or not.

    Be harsh in your reviews, we all should be aware that happens when you put yourself out there. And some people need to know that they probably should take a class or just stop before donating another year on the next book. Not-to-mentions, the buyer needs to know what kind of a book they might be buying.

    I can’t wait to see what you think about reading outside your norm.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. jazzfeathers says:

    I think that’s a coragious resolution and I applaude it. I’ve partecipated in many discussions on whether we should give 1 e 2-star reviews, and you’ll know the reasons why many refuse to give less than 3.
    I understand. In today world, where we’re supposed to be free to say whatever we want, especially on the internet, we actualy end up cencoring ourselves for many different (and often understandable) reasons.

    Giving negative reviews is always a pain. I don’t like it. And I try not to do it if at all possible. But I don’t want to pass a bad book for a good one either.
    Normally I try to be as objective as possible. I avoid referencing my own tasts at all costs, that’s not interesting for people anyway, and what I don’t like about a book might as well be what another reader loves about the book (just happen with a fellow book blogger, actually 😉 )
    So I always try to give resons why something didn’t work for me, the same way I try to give reasons why something did work for me. As you suggest, I try to offer something good even in a negative review.

    I applaude your new policy!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nia says:

      You sound like you’re on the same page as I am!

      You have to be honest for your readers, but remember that a human being put their heart and soul on the line when you’re reviewing – though it can be hard to come up with a positive sometimes and I have to wonder if the best I can come up with is ‘good use of punctuation’ 😄


  3. Bonsai says:

    My brother-in-law, a non-reader and certainly someone I would consider outside of my target audience, chose to actually buy my book because I did not give him a copy as I suspected his opinion would causes awkwardness between us. He seems like the type that would like humor and light content. Well a couple of weeks ago he told his older bro (my husband) that the book was “dark” and “not his type.” Ah…I could have told him that. My point is, I think it is wise to pick a few bookshelves and stick with them. I hate science fiction and mystical stuff. The likelihood of a fair review from me would be unlikely.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nia says:

      I have my standard favourites and stuff I know I won’t enjoy (like really heavy sci-fi) but there are so many genres that I feel I really should at least try – I think of it like trying food, who knows what you might enjoy even if it doesn’t seem immediately appetising!

      That said, people who don’t read that often might want to stick to what they enjoy so they get the most out of the experience.

      Hope your brother in law was diplomatic in his opinion to you!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Bonsai says:

        Ha ha. He’s not a diplomatic man. My husband of the last fifteen years, the diplomatic brother, told me that “Keith” said my book wasn’t his style. “Too dark” were his words.

        What’s really funny is that my book is a memoir about my 21-year addiction to Japan! Holy shit! Had he not already heard of the tragedy the unfolded in the aftermath? Did he not actually make it to the last chapter to read the redemptive ending where I am standing fully in the light?

        This week I heard that Keith passed the book to my MIL. If I had wanted to my MIL to read my book I would have certainly given her one! Since she is more like Keith I am expecting another “not for me” review.

        I have been told my many that the writing is superb. At least he could have said that for crying out loud. In-laws…jeeze.

        Liked by 1 person

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