reading bad books

Posted December 2, 2011 by Asheley in Uncategorized / 17 Comments

This morning I want to talk about something that we all
–whether readers, book bloggers, or authors–
have had to deal with from time to time: 
bad books & negative reviews.
I woke up this morning to this comment (that I loved!) from one of my absolute favorite fellow book bloggers:
“…Dangit-all! Don’t you ever read a bad book?!…”
I have actually been asked this several times. Even recently, I’ve had this conversation with my husband. So let’s talk about this, folks.
1) Does Asheley ever read bad books?
2) And if she does, does she write negatively about it?
The truth is, friends, that I am super selective with what I read. My to-be-read list is miles and miles long (longer than my Goodreads leads you to believe it is).
 I want to read everything on there so badly. You know what we all say: 
“so many books, so little time…”
Y’all, it’s so true. I am really careful with what I accept/choose for review.
Not only that, but I also read books that I choose
from the library,
from my own shelf, and
from recommendations from other trusted people.
Why would I CHOOSE to read something I don’t think I’m gonna like? 
But…despite my greatest efforts, every now and then a book does manage to squeeze through that I don’t absolutely LOVE.
Maybe I only just LIKE it.
Or maybe I just read it and I’m glad I did. 
If that’s the case, I’ll still write about it. I’ll include my list of things I liked about it. I’ll tell the world why they should read it soon or add it to their wish list. But I’m not going to talk bad about it because I only ‘LIKED’ it instead of ‘LOVED’ it. I’ll just choose to point out what I wish was a little different, and I will do this positive way rather than a negative way.
No need for being mean, people. No need.
We can blog with integrity and honesty…and still be nice about it.
Even still, there are books with which I just cannot connect.
Maybe I’m not feeling them at the time,
maybe I have no connection with the characters,
or maybe it just isn’t the right TIME in my life for THAT book.
You know what I do with books like that?
Rather than push through them and write negative reviews
~when it is clear to me that I do not like the book~
 I just stop reading them.
Yep, I just close those books and put them back on the shelves.
Sometimes, I’ll pick them up later and try them again. Occasionally, I won’t.
But life is too short to read books that I don’t enjoy.
And when my TBR is miles long, I’d rather just close it and pick up something else from the stack. Of course, different rules apply when there are books that we accept for review and a negative review must be written…but I point back to blogging with honesty and integrity without being MEAN.
So, friends, THIS is why I very rarely — if ever — have negative things to say about a book.
I’m extremely selective with my time and my book choice,
as well as with the books I accept for review.
It does not profit anyone to accept books for review
if they don’t suit our interests or taste in books
and I’d rather not read/review a book that I’ll have a hard time
writing mostly positively things about,
particularly after an author put their
heart, soul, and hard-earned money
into giving that book life.
I know not everyone will agree with this, and that is okay.
I know not everyone blogs the way I do, and that is okay.
There is certainly an argument to be made
for the importance of reading both positive and negative reviews.
I am not trying to dispute any of that.
I’m just telling the world that I, personally, prefer
 to focus on the positive aspects of the books that I have enjoyed
and to share those with the people that choose to read my thoughts.
Besides, I’m not a “professional reviewer” anyway…
my thoughts are just that – MY THOUGHTS.
So, I guess if I want to keep them on the positive, that’s totally up to me, right?
I guess, to answer my own questions from way up above
Yes, I do occasionally read books that I don’t enjoy as much as others. No, I don’t usually finish what people call “bad books.” I put those down to potentially revisit later. In my blog posts, I give my thoughts on the books I read, which tend to be books that I like or love. It is really easy to tell how I feel about a book by reading my blog. I usually stick to reading the things I enjoy, because life is short and I read for pleasure and escape. And I guess that’s about it.
I do READ both positive and negative reviews on other blogs.
I do APPRECIATE both positive and negative reviews on other blogs.
 But ultimately, I guess I’m a lucky gal to mostly read
fast-paced books with
excellent world-building
well-developed characters
incredible settings
and sometimes a swoonworthy romance.
THESE are the things I want to share with the book-reading public,
the people who actually care what I think. So that’s what I do.
Nope, I don’t often read bad books.
What about you guys? 
Do you read a lot of so-called bad books?
If you do, what are your thoughts about reviewing them? 
Brutal honesty vs. staying positive? 
Do you review everything you read? 
But, please, be nice! 
I much prefer to converse with nice people.  

About Asheley

Asheley is a Southern girl. She loves Carolina blue skies, Ben & Jerry's ice cream, and NC craft beer. She loves all things history but prefers books over everything.

You can find her somewhere in North Carolina, daydreaming about the ocean.

Find Asheley on Litsy @intothehallofbooks!


17 responses to “reading bad books

  1. Oh man, I wish I could just put down a book that I didn't like. I'm always so optimistic when I start a book and then a tiny voice in the back of my head keeps whispering, "But it could get better!" It usually doesn't, but I just can't stop in the middle of a book.

    So yeah, I've written bad reviews. I've had to write bad reviews for blog tours even. I was honest but tried to be constructive rather than venomous and I always try to point out a few things the author did well. I actually got thanked by an author who I wrote a bad review of because he wasn't originally an English speaker (which I hadn't known) and now he knew what he should work on for the next time.

    The only time I think I've written a mean review is with Twilight and I'm pretty confident it deserved it.


  2. I very rarely write a negative review. I tend toward the "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all" school of reviewing. I can think of two outright negative reviews I've written, and both were because I committed to reviewing the book. (One was a netGalley book, the other was for an actual print publication I write reviews for.) I, too, have difficulty just stopping partway into a book, but now, if I realize that I'm just not going to enjoy reading a book (that I haven't committed to publishing a review of), I've started skipping to the end just to satisfy my curiosity about how things turn out.

  3. Hi Asheley!

    Great post! You got me thinking about bad books and negative reviews.. I don't usually write negative reviews either. My ratings are either 4 or 5 stars, rarely 3 stars! In the history of my blog I wrote two negative reviews: for Beautiful Creatures which I really, really hated and was mad at myself for investing so much time in reading this book; and for Bloodlines – which to me was just way too MEH.. I tried very hard to point out some good aspects of these books and I hope I managed that, but even tho I didn't like them, I still felt horrible writing negative reviews. Negative reviews suck. Some people seem to think being mean and harsh makes them more professional. I once read this blog article when one blogger was nagging about other bloggers writing positive reviews only and accusing them of being suck-ups trying to get on the Publisher's better side. It stung, because it seems I mostly write positive reviews and I felt like in some tiny part that article was directed at me. Well, it didn't stop me from being positive about the books I read I guess, but still..

    I just don't understand why would people want to be mean and often rude in their reviews. Like you said, those authors invested their whole lives into writing their books, why would you want too bash them? It just seems.. wrong. Right? 🙂

    Great post! Have a great weekend hun!!! *blows kisses*

  4. i agree that i seldom read books that are bad to the point of DNF.

    every once in awhile i try my best to pick up something that's not EXACTLY my style in hopes of finding something new and awesome.

    but, like you, i also have a genre that I Really Like and i try to stick to because i know i will fall in love.

  5. After reading a particularly disappointing book, I have come to the conclusion that I will no longer be a reader who HAS to read the whole book. If it doesn't grab me, if it doesn't appeal to me, if it is poorly written, I will not finish it.

    It's so true that there are so many books and not enough time.

    I really enjoy your blog, Asheley. 🙂

  6. A negative review for me is from one to two stars. Three is alright, but I had some issues with it. I review a lot of three and four stars books. I don't give a lot of books a five star rating. I've never given a one star review. I've only gave a two stars rating to two books and it was the hardest thing I had to do.

    I review everything I read because I'm a slow reader and only read a book per week and that's the book I will post about on the blog. I guess that if I was a faster reader, I would have the flexibility to choose which books to stop reading but right now, I can't do that. I wish I could though.

    I HATE writing negative reviews but I have to be honest. If there's something I didn't like, I have to say it. As long as I do it with respect and without disrespecting the author, I think we're good.

    The only two books I've given a bad review to, I was in an obligation to review. One was for a blog tour and the other I requested.

    I've stayed away from blog tours for that reason. It was my first experience with them and I didn't love the book and the author was really, really nice and I felt awful. Everyone was giving it a high rating and I couldn't understand why. So, that was a bad experience for me.

    The other book, I requested it because I liked the sample chapter. But as I read it, I found a lot of grammar errors and stuff that bothered me. I had to write the review since I did request it. I tried to be as honest as possible but still without saying rude things about the author or anything like that, because again, the author is nice. And I did see that she had potential.

    Those two books were indie and now I'm just terrified of indies for that reason. I don't think I will be reviewing more of them, just for that reason.

    I like reading negative reviews. They are helpful, especially when deciding if you want to buy that book.

    – Mary | Anxirium

  7. so far i have two books i cannot finish. it's boring and painful for me. for the second book, i have to email the author out of courtesy to apologize but i just can't finish the book.

  8. I have no problem DNFing a book and reviewing a book I didn't end up liking. Sometimes, I feel like I need or I even want to finish them even though I don't enjoy them…I'm not sure if others feel this way at all. Sometimes I give up and sometimes I just need to see how it ends.

    I'm trying to get better about being selective with my reading. But no matter what I do, sometimes I'll like a fantasy and sometimes I won't. Or sometimes I'll like a road trip book and sometimes I won't. I generally like all of those, but I've come across books I haven't liked that dealt with either of those two things.

    I think in general, if I DNF a book or not, is dependent on my mood…

    But recently I've been picking up MANY books and not finishing them. I have a short attention span anymore when it comes to books. I need to constantly be wowed and entertained…Not sure why that is. I'm expecting greatness all too much.

    Sometimes I'm okay with reviewing a book I gave 1-2 stars and other times I would rather not. Sometimes I just don't like a book for no reason, sometimes I feel like I have something I need to say as to why I didn't like a particular book…

    …that's all!

  9. I absolutely 100% agree!
    I have said that same thing to myself – "people are gonna think I don't ever read bad books" because I give "almost" everything 3, 4, or 5 stars. Yeah – the reason, like you, I am very selective with what I read. Also if I am not enjoying it, I drop it like a lead pipe! I put DNF and explain "it was not my cup of tea".
    Like you say life is too short, time is too precious, and there are far too many good books out there to be read to waste time on books I do not enjoy.

  10. I hear ya on this. I've been slogging through too many books I didn't really care for, which was keeping me from the books I loved, so in the past month I've stopped reading two books, fairly early into them. *SHRUG* My time is very valuable to me, and this is my hobby, so I'm trying to be more selective. 😀

  11. I read plenty of bad books, and I state in my reviewing policy that as long as I can finish the book, I will review it with utter sincerity. I always try to highlight the positives, but I do define what didn't work for me, as well. I think doing so shows my integrity as a reviewer, but I like your philosophy on reading books, Asheley 🙂

  12. I think that might've been my 'lil comment you refer to 🙂

    I absolutely agree with your sentiment about being nice. Even if I write a negative review, I tend to blame the hype more than anything else because, like you, I'm quite selective about my reading choices. Despite writing negative reviews, my positive reviews far outweigh my negative ones 🙂

    Also, I've started putting back books that don't hold my attention as you do. Sometimes I feel like it's a cop-out, so I'm glad to know I'm not the only one! 🙂

  13. I have to admit, I've written reviews where I didn't like the book. I know that personally I like to see if someone didn't like a book. And I like to warn other readers that I didn't like it so much.

    But…before you un-book-friend me 😉

    I feel as though when I write a 1 or 2 star review I support the ways the book failed for me with an analytical eye. I don't enjoy slamming a book for fun. But I have no problem outlining why the book itself didn't work for me. I know that the author probably won't enjoy reading the post…heck, they may even cringe at the reasons why I LIKE their books…But I know as a reader there are "so many books, so little time" and I like to be warned of both wonderful and not so wonderful reads.

    I guess what peeves me most of all, are the soft reviews, where people do a 2 or 3 star and only highlight the good stuff…while nice to the author, it's kinda false advertising for the reader…

    In summary I guess I don't like mean, hateful posts either. But I do very much appreciate a well thought-out critical review of a book…even if it's warning me not to pick it up.

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