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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Book Bashing

By Emily Carlin

We are writers. We agonize over the perfect words. We create new worlds with only our imaginations. We love our characters like our own children. And we understand each other.

But…does the rest of the world?

I got caught in the middle of a book bashing conversation a few days ago and I’m not sure I handled it well. My friends were talking about how terrible a particular book was—so I tried to explain how they weren’t the books target audience, and the people it was written for love it. My friends asked how could someone of this religious persuasion write a book like this—I tried to explain that if you really understand the book it isn’t so far off. They know I write and so maybe they thought I could answer these questions.

I understand that people have opinions and want to discuss them, but what bothered me more than the questions was the negativity. Authors are people. We aren’t perfect. Our books aren’t perfect, but we pour our souls into them. We know not everyone will like them, but we still write.

So this is my question to you…Do you author bash? Do you book bash? What do you do when others around you do?

-Angie

31 comments:

Kyra Lennon said...

I always try not to be a book basher - and there have only been two books in my whole life which have set me off on rants - so I guess that's not so bad lol!

I think there's quite a fine line between book bashing and giving an honest opinion. Often, people don't think before they unleash unnecessary rage over a book.

I tend to avoid those kinds of conflicts because I'd prefer to be known as someone who writes books, not someone who belittles other people who write books. :)

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I try hard not to "bash" in general. If I don't care for a book or an author's style, that's what I say - "I don't care for it but others might enjoy the story, the style, etc." I try to present MY opinions, MY thoughts, in as un-antagonistic way as possible. Besides, I
can usually find something positive to say anyway. :)

Emily R. King said...

I used to. Before I started writing full time, critiquing a book was like turning the radio off when a song I didn't like came on. I had no problem looking at a piece of artwork and dissing it either.
Being an "artist" all day every day has changed my attitude. I won't bash a book now. All I say is "it's not for me." And that's true. It's not awful just because I don't appreciate it. It just means I'm not into it. No harm done.
I hope other people take a similar approach with my writing, but I know there will be those who do not understand the blood, sweat, and tears that go into writing a book. Book bashing is something we should all expect, unfortunately.

Michael Offutt, Tebow Cult Initiate said...

I have to admit, I'll probably book bash in conversation with another person. But, I never do it in written form. And I don't do it often. But there are just times when (as you've said) you don't like a book and then like minded people get together, and it just happens.

Maybe I should be more cognizant of what I say. But there's a part of me that longs to have input in a conversation, so I just end up throwing in my opinion.

jaybird said...

There is a way to politely discuss something that you disagree with or dislike, without personally attacking someone. That is what really gets me mad.

I may not care for a book, but I refuse to bash the author personally. I mean, really, if you don't care for what someone wrote, don't read it. IT's that simple. Don't go on a hate/smear campaign.

David P. King said...

I try and stay clear of negativity, or if I didn't like a book, I'll mention aspects of it that I liked, as not to come off as some kind of book or movie snob. By all means, my stuff isn't as brilliant, so who am I to put others down? :)

Jolene Perry said...

When I don't like a book on GR, I just mark it as read, and don't rate it.
All of my favorite books have one-star reviews, and books I'd give one star to have plenty of five star reviews.

SO. No. To someone that story was hours and days and months of writing and stressing and waiting.

Good post.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

No I don't. I'm not so self-absorbed as to think that I am the ONLY reader in the universe. I will say a book doesn't appeal to me, but it evidently has merit to someone.

Meredith said...

I do my best not to. I always remind myself that just because I didn't like a book doesn't mean I have the best opinion of it.

Diana said...

There are books I'm not fond of and will let my friends know my opinion if they ask, but like you said, it's usually because I'm not part of the target audience. Just because I didn't particularly enjoy it doesn't mean it's not a great book, it's just not for me. I usually try to explain that when I tell someone I don't like a book.

prerna pickett said...

i stay away from book bashing. NOt that there aren't books out there that frustrate me to no end and question how in the world they got published, but I refuse to get tangled in that web. It takes guts to sit down and put words on paper and then later put yourself out there for others to judge. If i don't like a book, i keep it to myself. Or I say "it wasn't for me, but you might like it." Everyone's taste is different.

Danielle B. said...

I have done it before. I have book bashed and author bashed but not to a point of raging. I have my opinions like everyone else. There is one book series in particular that myself and another aspiring author ripped to shreads. Was it aimed for us? Yes, it was aimed towards women in general and became a huge series.

I don't frown upon it because I think books, like any form of entertainment, should be subjective to critiques.

Donna K. Weaver said...

I try not to bash and if I don't like a book I try to be silent, because I recognize that so much of liking or not liking is subjective. But if I do speak up, I try o explain what about it that didn't work for me. Sometimes, it's a philosophical difference--there's no way I'm ever going to be comfortable with the approach. But that means I'm probably not really the target audience, even if I'm in the right age or gender group.

S.P. Bowers said...

No I don't. Though I'll admit as a teenager who thought I knew a lot more than I did and was passionate about books I didn't hold back on my feelings. If I don't like a book I can calmly discuss why I didn't like it but I can usually understand why the author did that, or how it might work for other people. I don't think I've been involved in a real book bash, most of the people I talk books with don't do that.

Shiela Calderón Blankemeier said...

I'm like Emily. Book bashing came easy before I started my own writing. Now I strive to be more supportive, whether I like the book or not.

Jessie Humphries said...

Yup, I think I was guilty of doing this before. But not anymore. I choose to find good things and try to figure out how it got published, or why its such a huge success if its not totally structurally sound. Yanno?

Tobi Summers said...

I don't book-bash publicly. Like Jolene said, if I read a book I don't like, I don't give it a rating on GR (I only rate books down to 3 stars, which is still for books I like).

But I definitely book-rant to friends. It's usually more than just if I didn't like the book though. It's if the book has content I find objectionable for whatever reason. There are certain trends, particularly in YA, that drive me crazy. I don't know if it's bashing so much as it's expressing a negative opinion, but maybe I just say that to make myself feel better.

The flip side of that is that I wouldn't mind if someone spoke about my books the way I rant about others, or at least I don't think I would. I mean, I don't want anyone to be upset by them, but art is controversial, so I've accepted that not everyone will like it, and I'd welcome the debate.

Rachel Schieffelbein said...

I will admit, I have done it. Book bashed, but never author bashed. There are books I hated, characters I hated (well, only one that comes to mind) but I always do say it just wasn't for me. I would never say that a book was horrible, just that I didn't like it. And I wouldn't do it publicly. I've never posted a bad review. (I've posted few reviews in general, really, but always for books I loved because I wanted to say great things about them!)

Cassie Mae said...

If I don't like a book, I don't finish it. Therefore, I don't feel entitled to a perfect opinion on it. So if someone asks if I liked it, I'll say, I didn't finish it, then leave it at that. So if you get me to finish the book, that means I liked it, so I'd never bash it, lol.

Livia said...

Great post, Angela!

I agree every book has its own target audience and us, writers pour our hearts into creating something meaningful (eg. characters, settings, etc).

If I don't like the author's tone\voice\writing style, I don't finish reading the book. If I enjoy the author's tone\voice\writing style, oh yes, I read it all the way through and read another book from that particular author (eg. Nicholas Sparks).

If someone doesn't agree with them on a particular book, I accept their opinion, give them the recommendation even though they may hate it and share my opinion.

Tara Tyler said...

luckily havent experienced much of that.
i think you handled it well. any time j hear complaining, i try to understand & convey the other side or the why... there's always a positive!

Crystal Licata said...

I've noticed a lot of people who do not write don't understand how personal it is. They also fail to understand that not every book can be written for them specifically! It's the same with music. Not everyone likes the same music. Great Post!

ilima said...

I keep my lips sealed if I don't like a book unless it's with close personal friends. And I'd never do it online. I haven't really had this experience yet, but I would probably do what you did.

Neurotic Workaholic said...

I have to admit that I've criticized a few authors, but I don't think I've bashed anyone. Bashing writers isn't good because we're all supposed to be part of a community. It can be easy to bash writers, though, especially if the writers didn't necessarily write something that was Pulitzer material yet is on the best-seller list. For example, a lot of people don't like that 50 Shades book, and yet the fact that everyone's talking about it shows that it's struck a chord with them in some way. I also have to admit that I haven't read it partly because I heard so many negative things about it. (I also haven't read it because the topic isn't something I really want to read.)

Rebecca Taylor said...

When I was younger, I would book bash. I don't think I ever author based though...that just seems weird to me and I never really understand how people can get so worked about a person (and that person's collective work) when they don't even know them. That's my two cents anyway--for what it's not worth.

Now I've even lost the urge to book bash. There are so many books out there that I really would like, I don't waste any time worrying about the ones that I am 90% sure I will not like.

I don't like all the books I read, but I don't post reviews or rate the ones I don't like. If you hear about a book from me, it's only because I either liked it or really loved it.

Kim said...

From the sound of things, everyone above are just angels!
I'm not for book bashing, but I don't think there's anything wrong with criticizing a book. Not all books are created equal, and some are simply better than others.
That being said, I always recoil when someone says that "they could have written that" in reference to some book or other. Once you've tried your hand at writing, you do understand just how difficult the process is.
Anywho, great post, Angie! Food for my mind :)

meradeth said...

Such a good question! Honestly, I have said on my blog when I don't like a book, but I really don't bash--I'll just admit when it wasn't to my liking. We're all entitled to our opinions, but when I'm writing reviews I always am thinking "would I be really hurt if someone said this about my work?"

jamieayres.com said...

I think in a way, becoming an author ruined reading for me. Before, 95% of the time I found something I loved about every book. Now I have a critical eye that little things bug me and I cringe when I KNOW others will do the same to mine. But I do not book bash. I might have an intelligent convo with my sisters or friends about the hi's and low's of a book, but never would I put any of it out on the internet for all to see. That's why I only rate books on Goodreads that I'd consider a 4 or 5.

Shallee said...

There are some books I just straight-up don't like, but regardless, I know how much work and love went into those books. So I have a hard time really book bashing, and I NEVER author bash. I can dislike a book without being nasty about it.

Jenny S. Morris said...

I have done this before. And I will discuss things I didn't like about a book with my hubby. More intellectually then bashing it. What didn't work for me. Or what I'd do different. It is really hard for people who don't write to understand how much goes into getting a book published.

Jennifer Ruth Jackson said...

When I do book reviews, I am as balanced as possible.

I don't think I have ever really author-bashed (unless certain celebrities getting book deals because they're famous counts) but sometimes, I do book-bash. It is pretty rare, though.

I really dislike when people hate on a book just BECAUSE it is something a lot of people like. I believe that is childish.

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