RTW – Best January Read…and a Dilemma

I can dispense with YA Highway‘s Road Trip Wednesday prompt, What was the best book you read in January? pretty quickly: a tie between John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars and Neal Shusterman’s Bruiser. I read them in close succession, which is probably why I can’t seem to pick one over the other. Bruiser surprised me because I’d forgotten the book description and thought for the first quarter or so of the book that it was just a wonderful contemporary YA (then we got to the really cool stuff). My misapprehension was partly the consequence of having just read the very real-life The Fault in Our Stars and also because I’d spaced the fact that Neal Shusterman doesn’t really do non-spec-fic books (if he has, someone please point that out).

With John Green’s incredible book, the timing of my reading it could have been better. I’d just lost my dad (on January 9th). So reading about doomed teenagers just tore the grief right out of me in a flood of copious tears. I can point up no “fault” in Fault. It was hilariously funny and heartbreaking in turns.

On to the dilemma. Book reviews. I’m a published author, and someone who works hard getting my book, Tankborn, and my name out there. Like many of you, I’m also a member of Goodreads. When I remember, I put up the book I’m currently reading, although more often than not, I either don’t put it up until I’m partway through a new book or I never add it to my list at all.

But when I have put a book up, then finished it, Goodreads of course wants my rating and a review. If I loved the book, no problem. I give it four or five stars, sometimes write a few lines of a review, then go on my merry way.

But what happens if I really didn’t like a book? It could be that it was just not my cup of tea. It might have started out great for me (love those Kindle samples), but then I realized it wasn’t what I thought it would be.

In other cases I end up reading a book that really sucks. To my author eye, it’s lacking in basic craft, the voice is blah, the plot turns are silly, the ending is kinda stupid.

If a book just wasn’t to my taste, if it was otherwise good but went in a direction I just didn’t like, I try to be fair. I’ll rate it maybe a 3-star, then state in my review that it’s a personal thing, no real judgement of the book. But if the book is in my view really dreadful, I don’t say a thing. I don’t rate the book, I don’t review it at all. Why? Because I know as an author how awful a scathing review can be. Why should I contribute to another author’s angst? Why risk having readers come across that review and thinking, Man, this Karen Sandler is a real witch?

So I hold my tongue. It’s not like the world is waiting with bated breath for my opinion. There are plenty more people out there willing to review the books I don’t like. Let them speak their mind.

So, am I being prudent? Or cowardly? Should published authors review other authors’ books on sites like Goodreads?

Or should we just keep our mouths shut?

About karensandler

Lover of chocolate. A couple felines short of full-fledged Cat Lady. Author of the YA Tankborn Trilogy (TANKBORN, AWAKENING, and REBELLION), from Tu Books. Founding team member of We Need Diverse Books. Opinions expressed here are my own.
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7 Responses to RTW – Best January Read…and a Dilemma

  1. Elodie says:

    First of all, hug from the interwebs and condolences for your father! Reading such a book (I did not read it yet but looking at the reviews) must have been very emotional.

    In regards to your question, so far I´ve only rated books 3 to 5…and 3 is usually that I liked the book, I wanted to know what was going to happen next but it did not pull me in.

    I did not read yet books where I wanted to give a 1 or 2 but I understand that it might be difficult. I think I´d just be tempted to put it as read without a rating. I like to give positive reviews and spread the love for a book…if I don´t have that love, it does not mean that somebody else may feel it and I don´t feel like I need to intrude on it 😀

    • karensandler says:

      I think your approach is a good one. Which is why I tend to just back away from rating a book I thought was a clunker. I have put a book or two on my “abandoned” shelf, but again, that can just be because it wasn’t to my taste.

  2. steph kuehn says:

    I am so sorry for the loss of your father.

    I haven’t read TFIOS yet, but I have read Bruiser…I thought it was wonderful! And to your dilemma, I pretty much do what you do….my goodreads posting is sporadic, and I only add books that I rate 4 or 5 stars. I do this because it’s what I like to do. I’m excited about books I love and want people to know about them. That’s it!

    I hope you find something that’s comfortable for you!

  3. So sorry about your father 😦 ((HUGS))

    I started off doing very honest reviews, even for one-star books, when I joined Goodreads. Since I wasn’t really writing seriously, it didn’t occur to me that perhaps I should be a little more considerate of the author behind the book. I know that sounds awful, but I just sort of snapped a review off and went on to the next book. Now that I have been writing for a while, seeing how much time, effort, and heart goes into every book, it has colored my perception of even the “bad” books. They don’t seem so bad anymore. More like misguided or not so well-crafted.

    So now, I just don’t post a review for a book if I didn’t like it. I don’t think that’s a cowardly approach, I think it’s a considerate and compassionate one. Because you’re right–someone else will surely write that negative review, and it really isn’t necessary to deluge the author with overwhelming negativity and discouragement… This actually makes me want to go back and try to delete the low reviews I posted a while back, lol.

  4. Beck says:

    So sorry for your loss.

    I think you have hit on a sticky subject. honesty or playing nice. I think maybe mouth shut is the best approach cos it’s not dishonest… Certainly a tricky one.

    • karensandler says:

      General consensus seems to be to talk up the books I love and remain silent on the ones I don’t. In the “do unto others” sense, that’s what I’d like other authors to do with my books.

  5. katyupperman says:

    So sorry about your father. 😦

    Thanks for putting BRUISER on my radar… I hadn’t heard of that one before, but I’m definitely intrigued now.

    I struggle with the whole Goodreads thing too, and I’m not even published yet! I find that I can say at least SOMETHING positive about every book I read, which is what I try to do. There are very few books that I completely hate, but when I come across one, I just keep it to myself. I’ve decided to spread book love, not negativity, so I try to focus mostly on talking up the great books I read. Hope that helps at least a little!

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