Why I Don’t Post (Bad) Reviews on Goodreads Anymore

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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.

What Will the World Look Like?

My current expression

Sitting in my living room darkened to keep the heat at bay, I can’t help but think about how climate change is affecting our world. And as that goes on, here we are dealing with the threats to democracy on our own soil while thousands die of Covid in South America and Africa. Political turmoil, poverty, and corruption are wrecking Haiti and South Africa imprisoned one of their foremost leaders against apartheid because of personal greed. The fighting because of religion and land and ethnicity in the Middle East is driving thousands to seek shelter in countries that don’t want them. In many African countries there is no medical help, no government help, only disease, warlords, kidnapping, and murder.

The real world now seems to be tipping in favour of dystopia. How will we writers document it? And how will we write about the world that this one will become?

We are 21 years into this century. How much worse will it get before it starts to get better? Because I KNOW it will get better. Nothing lasts forever. Not good. Not bad. But how long will it take, I wonder. How long? And what will the world look like then?