Is It Okay To ____?

I’m starting a new semi-regular series here on the blog called Is It Okay To ____?

We’re going to fill in the blank with anything and everything that you want to know.

The plan is that I’ll give my response to the question, but more than just my opinion, I want you to share your opinion so that we can start a discussion.

So, I need your questions. Is it okay to _____? can include questions on the subjects of writing, reading, parenting, relationships, romance, house-wifery duties, the daily Christian walk, pregnancy and pretty much anything else you can think of.

So send ’em my way and I’ll get started on creating a discussion about them. Send your questions for this series to That’s jenniferkhale (at) gmail (dot) com.

Can’t wait to see what you come up with!

**For now, we’ll begin with this one:

Is it okay to give an honestly negative review of a book I didn’t enjoy?

This is a difficult situation many of us find ourselves in– we read a book, don’t care for it for one of a zillion different reasons, yet as writers we might know the author and not want to hurt feelings, and as readers we might not want to bother with the trouble of logging on to various websites to leave a review, especially if it’s negative.

So what to you think?

Share with me: Is it okay to give an honestly negative review of  a book you didn’t enjoy?



Filed under Is It Okay To ____?

16 responses to “Is It Okay To ____?

  1. We weren’t all made the same so it would seem to me that we won’t all love everything the same. I think it is okay to not like something for your various reasons but if you *do* give that honest review, be tactful about it. None of the whole Your Whole Family Should Go Jump Off A Bridge I Wouldn’t Even Use This Book To Mop Up A Mess kind of stuff. What you find horribly wrong another person may believe to be pure genius. But it would be quite boring if we all thought/felt the same way, right?

  2. I think it depends on whether or not you are an author yourself. Do we as fiction writers want to be in the business of putting negative reviews about other writers out there? I think for me, personally, I wouldn’t do it. Or I might try to find several things I enjoyed and then maybe point out a few things tactfully that I didn’t enjoy. Still, I tend to stay away from giving negative reviews altogether. Now, if I love a book, I’ll sing praises to the sky about it.

  3. I try to steer clear of doing reviews on books I can find nothing good about. Truth is I rarely read one that I can’t find a few things I did enjoy. Hey, I saw you were reading Regina’s book. I finished yesterday. Loved! How bout you? (I really did love it. I am not reviewing her high because I’m a writer. LOL)

  4. I’ve been contemplating this on Goodreads. I can usually get something out of every book, but if I didn’t enjoy it I usually don’t review it. Don’t have the time.

    As with everything, word choice is key and intentions matter.
    ~ Wendy

  5. If I don’t like a book and can’t give it four or five stars, I won’t publish a review. I realize everyone’s tastes are different, and I don’t want to turn readers off to a book they might enjoy. As a writer my goal is to encourage others to read my friends’ books, not discourage them. I am, however, thinking about how to be more honest in the reviews I do post and tactfully mention aspects of a book I didn’t care for. I’ve seen some reviewers do a great job with this and want to learn from their examples.

  6. I’m with Keli! If it’s not 4-5 stars for me, I simply don’t post a review. Not because it’s wrong – but because it’s wrong for ME. I am not a professional book reviewer, I’m not “just a reader” – I’m an author. When I post something, I see it as a recommendation rather than a review.

    As a writer, I absolutely appreciate and need honest constructive negative reviews (not snarky “oh no! She used the word God and it wasn’t a cuss word! How dare she impose her religion on me?” reviews). However, as an author, I don’t just represent myself, but my publisher and my agency, so I feel an obligation to be professional and respectful.

  7. When I am looking for new books to read I always appreciate reviews. However, I skip the reviews that just say they love or hate something without offering any reasons. I don’t find those helpful. I also don’t like reviews that are as long as the book. I think a negative review is okay as long as it isn’t mean.

  8. I’ve been reviewing books in my genre professionally for about a year, but that commitment will end soon. Once I write my last review, I’ll only do recommendations for books I’ve enjoyed as a reader. I get a sick feeling in my stomach when I have to give a negative review, because I know how much that hurts the author. On the other hand, I won’t sugar coat the truth. Authors ask reviewers to give their honest opinions.

  9. Reviews are definitely helpful. But like most of you, I find myself stuck in that place between giving my honest opinion (honesty is important to me) and not wanting to hurt feelings. There’s no reason to trash someone just for the sake of trashing. There’s no reason to tear someone down. Rather than focus on the negative, I definitely try to focus on what I liked about the story. Like most of you, I can usually find something!

    Sarah– I loved what you said and I agree 110%. “…I simply don’t post a review. Not because it’s wrong – but because it’s wrong for ME.”

    However, I do appreciate an honest review from someone who knows their stuff, like a professional reviewer.

  10. I think if you’re an author, then posting negative reviews are a no-no. I’m not saying we can’t post honest reviews. I’m not saying we can’t say things we like and dislike about a novel. But if we truly did not enjoy a book, I think we, as authors, need to be quiet. Best not to burn bridges, or discourage a fellow writer.

    I’m all about that old-school rule here, “If I can’t say anything nice, I won’t say anything at all.”

    I’m like Keli. If I can’t give it two thumbs up, I usually don’t even mention it on Goodreads.

    • Katie– I totally agree with the burning bridges thing. And I’m also with you on the “if you can’t say anything nice” rule. That one’s important in a lot of areas of life, no? 🙂

      As authors, we know what it takes to produce that work– all the blood, sweat, and tears that go into it. I always try to keep that in mind when I’m reading.

      FYI folks, I’m not great about leaving reviews. Mostly because I forget to do it. 🙂 I need to be better about that.

  11. is it okay to lie when the truth would cost a friendship?
    is it okay to break the speed limit?
    is it okay to judge your preacher’s sermon?
    is it okay to ever shoot the messenger?
    is it okay to screen your phone calls?
    is it okay to tell your child Santa is real? (LOL!!!)
    is it okay to foster your own fears in your child?
    is it okay to ever blame someone else for your own mistake?
    is it okay to be addicted to gossip magazines?
    is it okay to watch R-rated movies as a Christian?
    is it okay to read all-out romance, no holds barred, as a Christian?
    is it okay to play hooky from work when you’re not sick?
    is it okay to mix and match products you buy if the total is the same?

    just a few things swirling around in my head tonight….

    • Wowza. You’ve just done my job for me for a couple months. Thanks, Chica!! 🙂

      • you know…i get tired of asking for feedback from folks only to get nothing. so i thought i’d actually take your question to heart for a change. 🙂 you know i love you!

        and i miss you. when we gonna chat? what days are good for you? the time change is a challenge…b/c i think we’re actually 3 hours apart. are you on eastern time?

  12. Great post- one that I’m not ready to weigh in on. I’m also very impressed by Jeannie’s list.

    Just a few of mine…
    Is it OK to
    …be disappointed with some aspect of your life?
    …answer a telemarketer’s call with a Chinese accent and pretend like you can’t understand them?
    …warn people about “problem people” or should everyone get a chance?
    …drink your child’s Coke when there are free refills and theirs came free with the kiddie meal?

    P.S. Thanks, Jessica!

  13. I am loving these… is it okay to suggestions. Regina’s kids coke stealing made me laugh! So done that and ordered a water for myself. Oh, the shame.

    I have never actually done a real review. But just like critiquing, and like most of you, I try to remain positive. Mostly I stick with a sandwich approach. If I have a criticism I try to find two things that I can praise to counteract any hurt. Since writing can be such a lonely endeavor it is important that we encourage each other. Bolster each other’s confidence so that we can find the courage to press on through the rejections and the self-doubt and write on for the Lord. I don’t think I would be worth it to crush someone with my honesty. Their story might change someone’s life. Ah, the power of the written word!

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