Since I decided to read and review 100 books this year (I am so NOT meeting that goal) I’ve worried a little about how the reviews would stack up. Already I’ve read one book that I did not like, and decided to go with the “sugar” rather than “vinegar” approach by sticking with the things I did like rather than harping on the stuff I didn’t. I was advised to be honest because it might have been helpful to the author, but ultimately I decided to… well… chicken out mainly because I hate to hurt anyone’s feelings and because I know how much work goes into writing a book. And while I regret not being more ballsy, I’m kind of glad I did because some authors are CRAZY. Like, straight-jacket-wearing, meds-swallowing, foaming-at-the-mouth crazy.
On his blog today, Nathan Bransford posted about the virtual witch hunt of author Jacqueline Howett after she went a little nutso on a reviewer, who actually didn’t give her such a bad review. Since her bad reaction to his post, she has been trashed online by a mob of readers who have posted negative, or mock reviews of her work on Amazon and B&N.
Bransford also linked to Emily St. John Mandel’s essay on bad reviews for The Millions, in which she expressed exasperation about her own negative reviews, but in a thoughtful way. And of course, there’s the famous 2009 Twitter meltdown by Alice Hoffman which was just painful to watch.
So is it really chicken to stick with the good stuff in the books that I’ve read, or have I done the writers and the readers of my reviews a disservice by not being completely honest, even at the cost of an author’s feelings? I suspect I know what you will think, but I’m still asking…