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There’s been a kerfluffle of sorts about Goodreads lately. Maybe you’ve read about it. People using book reviews to punish authors or extort them and since GR is owned by Amazon and Amazon doesn’t police its own reviews, they’re unlikely to do anything about the bad actors on GR. It’s especially bad because authors depend on good reviews, especially when their books are not NYT bestsellers. There’s also a bot problem. These are pretty crappy things to have happen when you’re just trying to enjoy books, but they’re not why I stopped writing unfavorable reviews on GR.
I stopped writing them because I’m a writer. I know how hard it is to create a book and how difficult it is to find a readership for it. So I don’t want to add to an author’s imposter syndrome or general anxiety by dumping on their work.
I’ve read some works this year that may have appeared for a while on my TBR or (am) Reading list. But they don’t appear on my (have) Read list because I didn’t like them or couldn’t finish them. I still have a shelf marked “Abandoned” but I haven’t added a title to it in a long while.
I’m not the kind of person to shy away from saying I don’t like a book. There are several that have won critical approbation and awards and I hated them. Even after reading reviews about why they are wonderful books and why I should like them, I still hated them. Everybody gets that, right? There are just some books you love and some you hate and a great many that fall in between.
But often I could tell those books were well-written. I just didn’t like the plot or the characters or the theme or the author’s viewpoint. And they’ve done just fine without my reviews.
But there are other books that aren’t written as well. They have major problems with plot or the grammar is so all over the place that it’s distracting or the characters are uninteresting or even annoying. I used to write reviews that said so. But I asked myself what purpose that served? The book is already out there. The time to have pointed out those problems was before publication. Does hearing it after the fact really help the author? I don’t know, but I’m guessing not too much. In any case, whether you love or hate a book is somewhat subjective. Not completely, but somewhat, depending on your criteria for good – which is itself subjective.
So currently, I may write a review if I really liked the book. If I thought it had some good points and I was able to finish it, I give it 3 stars and eschew the review. The ones I didn’t like? I don’t talk about those titles and I remove them from my lists.
I don’t know if I’ll continue this or come up with something different. In the meantime, I figure anyone who was able to actually finish a book and get it published (whether by Big 3 or self-pub) deserves not to have me stomp on their accomplishment because it didn’t happen to suit my definition of good reading.