#MondayBlogs #Poll Evaluating Books: More Questions Than Answers?

I have always found it hard to deal with feelings resulting from not liking a book I have chosen to read. If I finish a book I didn’t particularly enjoy the guilt that results stays with me for days. Having OCD has affected my confidence when it comes to critical reviews, because I second guess myself when I list points I did not like in a book. I’m never sure if what I find questionable is valid or a symptom of my diagnosed mental illness. Thus I tend to veer away from books with which I had an issue, but are these the books most worthy of discussion?

When someone strongly dislikes a book I have loved, I admit my default thoughts are what did I miss? Followed by what’s wrong with my taste in books? However, on reflection it would make better reading and a richer discussion to have a civilised point by point discussion on things we experienced differently in a book without the fault-finding blame culture that has become so prevalent on social media. Logically why should there be animosity because you dislike a book I liked?

I don’t feel it’s my role to necessarily convince you to like the books I have read. I see my book blogging as a way of putting a book I have enjoyed on the radar of other prolific readers. However, not necessarily for those readers to feel like I felt about the book. In my opinion discussion of what we felt differently about is far more interesting.

With so many books in any given genre, if we are to have a chance of reading the ones we will enjoy the most we do have to rely on recommendations. But whose recommendations? This is where a bit of blog reading comes in to find prolific readers who review books in our favourite genres. Then narrowing it down further to readers to those who have enjoyed books we have read in the past. The natural drive seems to be to find homogeneity, but doing so bypasses the opportunity to learn to discuss differences in opinion.

Is there an important place for critical reviews of books we have enjoyed less? Admittedly, I don’t like every book I read, but I don’t necessarily blog or review a book I don’t like. If I have read a book where I didn’t stop, and finished, but the book had a number of sticking points for me, am I missing out on an important experience when I don’t share what I didn’t like?

I don’t want to discourage anyone from reading a book, but if, in my opinion, it needed more work to be more enjoyable is this just a view I should keep to myself? Am I being disingenuous by omitting my two star and the majority of my three star reviews from my blog?

47 thoughts on “#MondayBlogs #Poll Evaluating Books: More Questions Than Answers?

  1. I am really struggling with an Arc I was asked to read and review for. I want to help the author out but don’t want to lie. At most I would rate it 3 but it’s more a 2. I honestly don’t know what to do, to me the book reads disjointed but if she’s a new author that means possibly affecting her self esteem. With a rewrite and good editor it’d be quite good, but for me I just don’t know how I can give anything more than what I feel. This is the first time I’ve really come across this since I haven’t been at this for long and most Arcs I have read have deserved the reviews I’ve given, as I rate on how much I enjoyed them. How do you deal with any that you come across like this?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think you have to be honest or else you kick yourself, but honesty can start with the positives first. What was done well and what you did enjoy but then list your sticking points and what didn’t work for you and end with suggestions you think would make it better. If you have a passionate driven author they will take it on board and you probably aren’t the only reviewer to pick up the issues.

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    • If you’re going through Net Galley they have a button where you can contact the publisher or Author in which you can give praise or the critical review part more privately so it won’t affect the author overly much in the way putting it in a more public way would.
      I’ve used that button before for excessive spelling and grammar AND to praise them as well.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. It’s a difficult one. I omit the 3* and below reviews from my blog as have decided to only include ‘recommended reads’, but I still post them on Goodreads, Amazon etc. There are arguments for both. I’d do what pleases you and makes you feel most comfortable (in the, albeit, uncomfortable circumstances)

    Liked by 2 people

    • I agree with you and have been doing the same, only publishing four star reviews and above, but even then a handful of my three star reviews make it onto the blog, because these books promised so much as could be good books with editing.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It is, as already said, a difficult question. Not everyone likes the same books and each person will probably see it from different angles. Personally, I tend not to put reviews up less than 3* but constructive criticism is quite acceptable, and even necessary. Reviews have to be honest and if I really didn’t like a book or didn’t finish I think that more often than not it being down to my own taste.

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  4. Although it is always interesting to read what others disliked in a book or how differently we perceived things, I would say it is better if you stick to something you are comfortable with. Writing reviews for books you did not enjoy can be tricky and are sure to make you feel a little guilty. I know I always feel guilty when I publish a review that does not help the book, but I also believe it is important to let people know why it did not work for me and confront my thoughts to those of people who actually liked it. But the reason I am allowing myself to write and talk about those books is because I am comfortable with it. Things get more complicated when the book is an ARC and the author’s debut or an indie author trying to break through. I make sure to be extra careful and stick to facts to give a constructive review for the author to work with.
    It is not about discouraging people to read a book, it is about giving your honest view. Sometimes it differs greatly from others, and it makes things very interesting. I love it when my opinion is different, and I get to read reviews that disagree with me. I take in all the points made by the other readers and wonder why I missed it or why it did not bother me. Also, it helps me be more accurate the next time I read books from the author or in the same genre.
    If you feel like trying, you might want to focus on books that you found were okay but nothing great, and see where it leads you. Later, you might want to rant about a book that really did not work for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree, I find the reviews where the reader has been honest more valuable than just the positive ones. I don’t feel qualified to dissect a book but I certainly have read enough of them to say what just didn’t work for me. You’re right that I need to write more reviews for books I found ok, and get comfortable with critique in a constructive way. I’m not sure I will ever not feel guilty about not loving every book I read but it’s just not realistic.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I struggle with this same question and have solved it by only publishing reviews on books I’ve enjoyed. It makes it look like I never dislike anything which is not true, but I don’t want to “throw shade” in a world already inundated with negativity. Better not to say anything at all when I don’t like something is my motto. I know others disagree, but I can deal with the similar guilty feelings by not giving the negative review.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is largely how I felt until recently, when a book I should have liked in theory, just didn’t do it for me. With a plethora of five and four star reviews, I felt I needed to bring a balance to the discussion about this particular book, which was in dire need of a story editor.

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      • It may seem like you don’t differentiate between good, bad & ugly 🙂 But I guess its difficult to put 2 stars if u’ve been given a free copy. On the other hand, books u own/purchase can be reviewed more strictly.

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      • I have given two stars to books I have bought in the past, but the crux of the matter is I don’t buy many books as I get a lot of ARCs. In the past six months I have read 116 books but bought only four. With this rate of reading it makes very little difference to me if the book is free or paid for. I don’t begrudge spending money on books, but I do mind wasting my time reading something I haven’t enjoyed. I can always earn more money, but as a sufferer of multiple chronic illnesses my time is limited.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I review books too. I even accept from first time authors who communicate with me. However I clarify certain genres I wont accept – lke YA college romance, chic lit etc which I just cannot tolerate.
        If I accepted unwanted genres, I’ll start off with minus 1 rating, which would be entirely unfair to any author.

        What u can do is accept certain genres of ur liking and then rate them on multiple levels , like rate for plot, chacrter development, writing style, grammatical errors- instead of giving one rating for entire book. That will make more sense to a reader as well.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Can’t remember the last time I gave a one star rating. I often accept books in certain genres fantasy and sci-fi have been less enjoyable for me but I do have The Martian by Andy Weir on my shelf waiting to be read. I tend to look at book review requests with the simple add age of, if I was in a bookshop would I buy this book? If yes I accept it for review if no, then I pass. With ten to fifteen requests a day for book reviews, I have had to become stricter and more time efficient.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I think criticism is a really important part of reviewing–it’s where the really meaty discussions about books often start. And I also feel that if bloggers only publish positive reviews, then we’re really just becoming an unpaid marketing team. I don’t think I’d trust a reviewer who only ever had positive things to say. That said, I think it’s important to be considerate when offering criticism and try frame it in terms of ‘what is the author hoping to achieve here and how successful were they?’ I also try and support criticism with examples and be aware that just because I don’t like something doesn’t mean other readers won’t have a completely different take.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Absolutely, sweeping statements with nothing constructive behind them are totally useless. I think there’s definitely a time and place in reviews to be honest and constructive. I’m not being paid, nor do I have a book out so I have no competing interests to be nasty about a book.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. If you don’t want to publish the reviews for the less than stellar books more publicly you can make them password protected and those of us who are interested can go and read them and discuss them with you.
    Hmmmmm, this gives me a thought…What about an online book reading group? We could choose a book from different genres and post our reviews of them…this might be better for Facebook though since they have groups so it might would be easier than putting it all in comments to a post on WP.
    I just finished reading a post by someone else where she linked to mini reviews she did via Twitter. The books weren’t quite up to speed or there was something she didn’t like about the book or just just didn’t feel like writing a full review for one reason or another. That might be a thought for you if it’s one you haven’t contracted out for. I’m thinking about doing this one actually. I’m slowly coming back from my mental blogging vacation and not up to writing full reviews just yet but I am still reading, I just don’t feel like writing full reviews.
    Anywho…thanks for the reminder that I needed to unblock Polldaddy, lmao. I have a lot of stuff blocked via Ghostery so don’t see the Pinits, polls, etc. unless I unblock them.

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  8. Pingback: Book Reviews via email? | SVM & TB Stories

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