For today's Armchair BEA blog post, I'm going to talk about how I determine whether or not I should write a negative review of a book that I simply do not like. Now, I should state outright that this is a rare occurrence, because I truly do have a wide range of reading interests and am generally able to latch onto some character or plot element to make a dull read an interesting one.
When it happens that I do not like a book at all (no redeeming characteristics whatsoever), I will usually do one of two things: Put it down or decide as I'm reading what exactly it is about the book that is making it hard for me to read. By putting the book down and not reading, I have given up on a book. This has probably happened three times in the past year. Not too often.
My best plan of action is to figure out exactly what is unappealing in a book. This helps me to write about the flaws (as I see them) on my blog without being so general and emotional that I am not fair to the writer or the readers of my blog. I want to provide honest, but unemotional feedback when I write because I want to caution those who may agree with me against spending money needlessly and I'd like to potentially give the author (or future authors) feedback about what makes an unappealing read for me. (Because I spend most of my free time/ spending money on reading. This makes me somewhat worth listening to.)
And, I know from teaching that people like specific, unemotional feedback if it's going to be negative or critical in nature. If I love it, I gloat (hopefully still able to point out specifics of why I love a book) and if I'm not gushing, I try to draw back my emotions as not to hurt any feelings. I imagine that putting out one's writing in the form of a book is an extremely emotional and scary process; it's not helpful to bash an artist or bemoan ten dollars misspent.
I know that others may feel differently about this topic. But, I truly feel that even if I do not care for a particular book or character or plot, there is someone out there who does. And, if that one reader who will love your book just happens to be your mother, she doesn't need to read my angry critique of her child's "masterpiece".