Mar 13, 2008

Negativity Meme

Chris tagged me for Dewey's Negativity Meme:

1. When you dislike a book, do you say so in your blog? Why or why not?
I do. Fortunately I seem to have a good “book radar”, and more often than not I manage to avoid books I don’t like. I think I’ve only written four or five negative reviews ever since I started blogging.

2. Do you temper your feelings about books you didn’t like, so as not to completely slam them? Why or why not?
If I’m posting about a book I didn’t like, I try to explain why I didn’t like it, but I also try to mention its positive aspects, the things that would probably make other people like it even though I didn't. I know very well that what is for me a boring and pointless book is for someone else the best read of the year, so I wouldn’t want to discourage others from reading a book just because it didn’t work for me. Also, even when I don’t like a book I generally don’t think that reading it was a waste of time. There’s almost always something enriching in the reading experience, something that I’m glad to have found, so I try to make sure that I mention that.

3. What do you think is the best way to respond when you see a negative review about a book you enjoyed?
I think that the best thing to do is to be respectful and keep in mind that people are different and therefore will react differently to things. With that in mind, I think it's perfectly fine to either share your thoughts or keep them to yourself. Fortunately I have yet to find a book blogger who doesn't keep that in mind (my experience in some music communities, though, is unfortunately very different).

4. What is your own most common reaction when you see a negative review of a book you loved or a positive review of a book you hated?
It depends. If the person who is reviewing the book is someone I don’t know well, I probably won’t say anything. But the more comfortable I feel with the person in question, the more likely I am to comment and say that I did like the book for this and that reason, but that I understand that not everyone will agree with me. I think I’m more likely to comment on the negative review of a book I loved than on the positive review of the book I hated. I wouldn’t want to be a party pooper, and I'm always glad to see enthusiasm for books, even if they are books I personally don't like. And what would be the point in pointing out what for me are a given book's flaws to someone who obviously doesn't see them as flaws? I think I'd have trouble doing that without coming across as trying to convince the person that their beloved book is in fact terrible. This is a kind of conversation I would probably have face to face with a good friend, but not on the internet. Either type of review doesn't bother me, though. I know that people have different taste and different opinions, and I’m more than okay with that. It makes the world more colourful.

5. What is your own most common reaction when you get a comment that disagrees with your opinion of a book?
I welcome different opinions, and I would be interested in hearing what exactly the person disagrees with. Of course that if the person was being disrespectful I would just ignore them, but I don’t think I have ever received a disrespectful comment. All the book bloggers I know are polite and sensible people, and if there’s anyone out there reading my posts and shaking their heads at my outrageous stupidity, they keep quiet. Anyway, divergent opinions can lead to interesting discussions – I remember that Jean Pierre and I and others had a cool discussion about Terry Pratchett that started with our different reactions to his book Thud!

6. What if you don’t like a book that was a free review copy? What then?
I never get free review copies :( Most review sites won’t send book to my particular little corner of the world (which is understandable, given the shipping costs), and I have never been e-mailed by authors/publishers. But if it were to happen, I would be respectful but honest. I would also try to look for positive things in the book, things that could make it appeal to other people even though it didn’t work for me. But I would say that I didn’t like it. I think I’d feel a little bad about it, but I’d feel even worse if I were dishonest and mislead people.

7. What do you do if you don’t finish a book? Do you review it or not? If you review it, do you mention that you didn’t finish it?
I would mention that I didn’t finish it, but I wouldn’t write a full post about it. I don’t think I could judge a book fairly without having read the whole thing. Sometimes the ending of a book casts a new light on the whole story.

I would honestly like to see everyone's responses to these questions (my thanks to Dewey for coming up with them!) so I'm tagging all of you :P If you're reading this, consider yourself tagged.


  1. Nymeth - what I like about your posts is that they are generally fair. I appreciate that you write about the negative (if it's there), but also that you can find an upside to every book. Because of that, I've come to trust your opinion--although sometimes our tastes differ (but wouldn't it be boring if EVERYONE had the same taste?)

  2. Great answers Nymeth! You always write the best reviews and I have to say that they're always extremely fair to the book. I think you have the same disease as me where we're incapable of seeing bad in books :p

  3. I admire that you can always find something good to say about a book. I struggle with that, and usually just leave it at a brief synopsis and "why I didn't like it" if that's the case.

  4. Great answers, Nymeth! I agree with the others that you always write the best reviews. I'm not familiar with most of the books you read but after reading your review have put them on my wish list. :)

  5. You've got some great answers to these questions! Your reviews are always very excellent, you give good reasons for either liking the book or not liking it.

  6. I know we don't always agree on some books, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't trust your opinion generally. For the most part I think our tastes are pretty similar so I like reading your positive reviews. Negative reviews don't stop me from reading a book, they might just temper my expectations before reading it myself, as like you say different people like different bits of novels. I guess we will see by the time we complete our joint reading challenge...!

  7. "I never get free review copies :("

    If you're willing to wait for a slow boat from Asia, I can send over free reading copies to your corner of the world. If I have something you like, that is.

  8. Wonderful answers, Nymeth! Like there was ever any doubt that they would be!

    I know I've told you many times how much I love your reviews. Probably enough times that you worry that I'm some kind of unbalanced stalker :) But it is so true! And your answers to these questions point out many of the reasons why. I love that you're not afraid to talk about what works and what doesn't work for you. I love that the negatives are as well-thought out and as respectful as the positives. I love your incredible gift of insightfulness. And your exquisite way with words.

  9. I think I could just say ditto to all of your answers! You do always write great reviews though, very balanced.
    I never get free review copies either. Shall we pout together? :P

  10. Trish: It would be boring indeed. Thank you for your words - I really appreciate that trust :)

    Chris: Thank you :) It's what you said in your post...I have too much respect for books and for the act of writing to be completely negative about a book. I have of course found books in which I had trouble finding any good, but if that is the case, I'd just rather not waste my time writing about them.

    Jeane: If I couldn't see anything positive in a book I think I would do that, too. It HAS happened to me, just not in the recent past.

    Melody: Thank you... you are all much too nice to me :P

    Kim: Thank you, I'm glad you think so :)

    Rhinoa: I feel the same away about negative reviews. I hope you enjoy the other books I picked for our challenge! I have the feeling that I will enjoy yours.

    Dark Orpheus: Thank you for your kindness, but it's okay, really... I was complaining but not really - it's not like I don't have enough unread books in the house as it is :P

    Debi: lol, unbalanced stalker! No, unless we are ALL unbalanced stalkers permanently stalking one another :P Maybe we are :P Thank you for your kind words - I really appreciate them :)

    Tanabata: Let's :P Thank you, and I could say the same about your reviews.

  11. i've read this post and logged on three times now to comment.

    and i just wanted to say that that was a very cool discussion we had...! :)


Thank you so much for taking the time to comment - interaction is one of my favourite things about blogging and a huge part of what keeps me going.