So, What About Negative Reviews?

frownieI know I haven’t been online much lately. Partly, life has intervened, but there’s something else afoot as well.  I’ve been reading plenty of books, but somehow I keep finding myself wading into books I just cannot imagine recommending to others. And I don’t always know what to do about that.

On the one hand, if I’m reading something that clearly teaches ideas contrary to Scripture, I think I would have a duty to point that out because I would not want others to stumble. However, the more frequent case arises when I’m simply reading a novel that doesn’t catch my fancy, or a book that just seems poorly written.

The tendency on many book review sites, particularly Christian ones, is to post postive and sunshiney reviews. And in some circles, I do on occasion feel pressured to be all-upbeat, all the time. I definitely get enthusiastic about some books I read, but I’m not going to be dishonest with readers and pretend to like something that doesn’t work for me. However, as a Christian, I also don’t want to go in the other direction and write a mean-spirited, hurtful review of an author’s work.

In the end, after much prayer, I think I’ve reached some conclusions at least for now. Because I know that readers are spending their hard-earned money on books, I intend to review what I read and talk openly about what works for me and what doesn’t. Hopefully, by focusing on what makes a book helpful or erm…less helpful to read will assist readers in deciding whether that book might work for them.

And what does that mean for readers?  Well, it means that I won’t be turning this into a snark blog (feel free to pipe up if you disagree with a review!), but I will call them as I see them. And that means not every book on here will get 4 or 5 star reviews.

Do you review books on a blog or on a site like Goodreads?  If so, do you ever post critical or negative reviews?

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3 thoughts on “So, What About Negative Reviews?

  1. I’m not a reviewer but this is something I’ve thought about in book club, or if I’m just talking books with friends. I don’t want to be unkind or unfairly critical and I also want to be a good Christian but I think part of being Christian is being truthful. And if we’re being truthful, well, there are some books out there that just aren’t that well-written.

    Just my two cents: but as a reader, I think I would trust bloggers more if they have a mix of postive and not-so-positive reviews posted.

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  2. I really appreciate your thoughts on this, Amy. I review books for several publishing houses who have blog review programs. I generally stick to non-fiction for my review choices because a lot of the “Christian” fiction I have read I simply cannot recommend to others with a pure conscience. Saying that, I must add that I respect the time and effort put into writing a book. I hesitate to be critical because I have never written anything longer than a short story. I think in the long run that honesty is the best policy. I think we can be kind and still be honest if we are reviewing someone else’s work. The Golden Rule works for us in the book blogging world too. If I were looking for honest feedback for my work, I would want to know what people thought in a constructive way. This is just my two cents. 🙂

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    • Thanks. I really appreciate that, and think it’s helpful indeed. The more I think on this, the more that I realize that it just wouldn’t be right to pretend I like everything I read all the time.

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