It happens. A person leaves a comment and it leaves me thinking.
Recently, I wrote this about not liking a particular character (Emma Woodhouse from Jane Austen’s Emma if you’re curious) and how this dislike stopped me from finishing the book. The comment:
It made me wonder, do I need to finish a book even though I don’t like a character, plot, setting, whatever?
The short answer is no.
There is a longer version, which still amounts to a no, but let me go on…
The majority of reviews on this blog are positive; I don’t come right out and say it anywhere or qualify it, but it’s true. The reason? I read these books on my own time, my personal time, time I’m NOT paid for. I like talking about books I read and enjoyed and that translates to what gets posted. When I stop reading a book, usually because I’m not enjoying it or it’s not working for me on some level, I usually (almost always) don’t talk about it. It might get a mention as a DNF but I tend not to talk about it because, not having read the book, I don’t feel I can comment on it in a meaningful way. In the rare occasions I do talk about a book I didn’t finish, it’s because I want to hear what others thought and sometimes that leads me to try the book again. Good or bad, that’s mostly what happens. So, what that means is that there are not many negative reviews here (a few do exist).
But that doesn’t mean there are books I don’t like. There are. Loads of them. But when I come across one and I decide I can’t finish it, I just walk away. There are too many other books on my list, at the bookstore, and at the library that I can turn to for entertainment.
Yes, there is the argument for negative reviews and the idea that reviews of the negative variety can be helpful to readers and even authors. I agree that when a person finishes a book and doesn’t like it, writing about it honestly provides a valuable service. In fact, we should all be doing this but that’s another post for another day. And, sometimes, I do feel it’s refreshing to not like a book. Not all books are good fits.
So, where am I going with this? It’s okay to not like a book. It’s okay to stop reading a book. If you want, it’s okay to write a negative review of said book.
Well, the comment may not have answered my question but it got me writing so I guess in a way it did bring me an answer, sort of.
Thanks for the inspiration, Elizabeth.