I hate writing bad reviews. I have a tendency to grade books too generously on Goodreads (but I’m doing better at that). My 50-page-and-out rule means that these days I don’t force myself to carry on with books that I’m not enjoying. One of the reasons that my regular review post is Book of the Week is because it’s a positive idea – I’m writing about books I’ve enjoyed reading, because that it is the point of reading for me a lot of the time – to enjoy something. But in the last couple of weeks I’ve found myself writing reviews on Goodreads for a couple of stinkers. And it got me to thinking about hate reading.
So if I don’t read books I’m not enjoying, what is hate reading I hear you ask? Well, it’s when you hate a book – whether it’s for the characters, the plot, the bad writing etc – but keep going until the end either because you’re so boggled by what’s happening that you need to see what happens next or because you’re getting some sort of perverse pleasure from spotting the mistakes, contradictions and general craziness.*
If it’s the former, one book is usually enough. You can strike that author off your to-read list, unless you’ve got compelling evidence that you’ve just picked the one stinker in a line of great books. If it’s the latter, well. I have an author who I read only because I find it so cathartic to get angry about their mistakes – some of which have been going on for several novels in a series now and most of which could have been fixed by a halfway decent editor or proof reader.
But then comes my dilemma – what do I write about them? I can’t recommend them (well I can, but only to a very select audience) and it seems dishonest not to explain what my problem with them was. So I don’t write about them here – because this is a positive bookish space – but over on Goodreads, I review everything I read, so usually they get a low star-rating and a Goodreads review with spoiler tags so that I can complain about the problems without spoiling the plot for anyone else.
Luckily there’s only been one occasion when I’ve been sent a book to read and review for Novelicious that has been truly dreadful, but it was a book which hadn’t been reviewed anywhere else at all, I was really concerned about the impact my review would have. I explained the problem to my editor, who spoke to the publicist to give them the option for the review not to run. I think it did go up in the end, but I felt less bad about the total pan I had given it, because they had had the warning.
I read a lot of books, and so many more of them good than bad, but when you’re having a run of stuff you don’t like – or in fact actively hate – like I have at recently, you just need to vent. Thank you for reading it. I’m off to find something good to read.
PS I haven’t named any names in this post (positive space remember), but if want to know what to avoid from my recent reading, you can visit my Goodreads profile, where you can see what I’ve been reading and the ratings I’ve given. I’m sure you’ll be able to work it out!
*Although none of the general craziness that I have come across has ever approached the general What the Feck-ery that you get in Smart Bitches, Trashy Books’s F+ review section. I can understand if you just glom the whole section (I know I did when I first discovered it) but if you only want one as a sample, try their review of The Orca King II – but be aware, the language is… salty.