I have joined a lot of book groups on Facebook over the years and really enjoy reading feedback from readers about books I am reading, will read or I am on the fence about reading. Being part of such groups is fun because we are all different when it comes to reading preferences and like any self-respecting bibliophile I am always on the look out for more titles to read despite having towering to-be-read pillars of books by my bedside.

It’s not at all unusual to read posts about how a book just does not appeal or a reader is finding it difficult to get into a book. In fact, helpful tips, such as reading the first hundred pages before you decide the book really isn’t for you, are thankfully plenty. The groups also heavily recommend books and are probably my primary resource for searching out good titles to add to my to be read list.

So, I was a bit startled when on one such book group a post went up that tagged an author and then, indelicately in my opinion, criticised the style of grammar in the authors book. The book has been popular and I have read and enjoyed it, as had many other members of this group, many of whom came out to defend the author.

I do not know the author personally. In the discussion that ensued, two camps emerged: those outraged at the tagging and harsh criticism and those who felt the author should take it as par for the course. I decided not to comment on the thread but to reflect on it.

I agree a certain amount of open minded tolerance to critique and those who will not like your work is paramount when you do, virtually, anything, but I know if it had been me I would have felt hurt, upset and humiliated. It would be my personal nightmare to be shown up in this manor and that is the main reason I wouldn’t want to make anyone else feel that way.

When I am personally tagged in a post on Facebook, the post becomes a direct dialogue with me in the public domain, depending on the privacy settings of the group, and therefore what the original poster had done in effect is say-NOT in these words, but the gist: your grammar is crap, go back to school.

Even if I read a book where indeed grammar was creative or lacking enough to be irksome, I would never say it quite so harshly and I would never tag on a public group, but that’s just me. I have my suspicions that the original poster didn’t know the author was a member of the book group and perhaps isn’t clear what tagging someone in a post means to the person tagged. If you wouldn’t verbally say it face to face it’s not a good idea to type it and tag.

Looking around Goodreads and Amazon, there are some very forthright reviews and opinions, which are scathing, but is it really necessary to point errors out in a way to belittle an individual? None of us is perfect and given any subject we would all write differently in style, so why the widespread intolerance and negativity? Does being mean really make you feel good, when it makes you look so bad?

I don’t condone being untruthful in a review, but being constructive with sensitivity, as many hours go into writing a book, surely isn’t too much to ask.