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Should You Review Only The Books You Enjoy?

The debate over whether book bloggers should include reviews of books they disliked as well as those they enjoyed, has reared its head again.

The catalyst was this post on Twitter. The person who shared this was baffled: why single them out when there were plenty of other bloggers who also only reviewed the books they liked?

The message generated almost 200 replies and more than 3,000 “likes”.

It’s been fascinating to watch the reactions to this message. There seemed to be three types of response:

  1. People who agreed that bloggers didn’t need to review books they disliked. They saw it as a waste of their time or disrespectful to the authors.

I never write a review if I don’t like the book. If I don’t like it, I don’t mention it. Reading is subjective and it’s not my place to trash a writer who has possibly spent a year or more pouring blood, sweat and tears into a book.

2. People who felt the potential impact on an author shouldn’t stop bloggers making negative comments in reviews.

Yes reviews can be helpful if they have constructive criticism. But READERS are under no obligation to help authors. They already bought the book. The reviews are for other READERS not AUTHORS.

3. Those who felt they had a responsibility to their followers/readers to be honest about reactions to a book

I’m so dissatisfied with 95% of the books I read each month on my blog, I’m warning people way from them. I will not abandon a book I start reading, but I am very clear about what I dislike about them.

I tackled this topic in a previous post about “negative reviews” in my A2Zofbookblogging series. But since the issue is clearly still on people’s minds and opinions are so varied I asked a few bloggers I follow, about their “rules” .

Joanne: Portobello Book Blog

The question about reviewing a book she hasn’t enjoyed isn’t really an issue for Joanne.

She only ever reviews books that she has enjoyed and would want to recommend, she says.

There are so many books out there that I wouldn’t continue reading something I wasn’t enjoying. I don’t claim to be a critic and just because I haven’t liked something, doesn’t mean that someone else won’t.

Since Joanne frequently participates in blogtours, what does she do if the books she’s agreed to read, just doesn’t work for her?

I would contact the organiser and explain. They are always understanding and can usually provide something else such as an extract so I can still take part in the tour and help publicise the book.

Cathy: 746books.com

Cathy takes a somewhat different approach. If she hasn’t enjoyed a book she will still review it but being careful to explain what didn’t work for her and to give a balanced reaction by highlighting any positives.

When I started my blog in 2013, my aim was to read all the unread books I had on my shelves and my kindle – all 746 of them – which has meant that if I haven’t liked a book I’ve felt that I needed to be honest and say that. I did not give myself the luxury of simply not mentioning that particular book as I was counting down all the books I had finished.

Even if that was not the case, I still think I would be honest in my response to a book, be it good or bad. I generally find that the books I am most interested in reading are ones that have had mixed reactions from people I trust. A book that has been universally adored tends to be a book that I will avoid!

Over the last seven years of blogging I have only written two or three reviews that I would consider to be ‘bad’ reviews but I feel that it is possible to discuss what you consider hasn’t worked without slating an entire work

There’s no definitive answer to this issue. Ultimately, as many of the contributors said, it’s YOUR blog, you get to choose the rules.

Personally I choose to review books I enjoyed and those I didn’t partly because I feel that gives my readers a more balanced experience when they land on my blog. Those are also the blogs I most enjoy and value reading.

However when when I have to share my dislike of a book, I still try to be balanced in my appraisal. It’s like doing a performance review for an employee: you try to make any criticism balanced and constructive.

A Question For You

Do you have a “policy” for your blog about whether to include reviews of all the books you read regardless of whether you enjoyed or didn’t enjoy them? Why did you reach that decision?

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