I am currently reading a book authored by a fellow book blogger. I am not going to disclose its title here out of respect for the author, but I am not enjoying the book. The prose is uninspiring and the dialogue flat. As a book reviewer, I feel a responsibility to review the books that I read. In the past couple of years, however, I have stopped trying to review every book I read. Not only do I not have the time to review everything, some books are so mediocre that I simply don’t see the point in reviewing them. Negative reviews can be very valuable, however. I have often been inspired to try a book because of a negative review. And of course there are only so many hours in a day. I don’t want to waste my time slogging through a terrible book. Debut authors need book reviews the most. An established author will be read by her fans, but a debut author doesn’t have any loyal fans.
I purchased the book blogger’s work a few weeks ago because I was intrigued by the premise. In fact, I had pretty high expectations going into the book because I had read some of this author’s writing elsewhere. Unfortunately, the book has been disappointing. I don’t want to recommend it to anyone, although the Goodreads reviews are generally quite positive (4 and 5 star ratings), so there’s clearly an audience for this kind of fiction.
I am very conflicted over how I should review books by authors I know. This blogger is not exactly a debut author, but this book is the author’s first major work of prose fiction. I feel a responsibility to review the book since I will be one of the few people who will have read it. I am also quite suspicious of books that only receive positive reviews on Goodreads. While I don’t know this author intimately, I feel uncomfortable reviewing negatively a book someone has written in the book blogging community. Shouldn’t we be in solidarity with each other?
This blogger is traditionally published and award-winning, which is why I had pretty high expectations. It is quite common for bloggers to self-publish, but self-published books tend to be poorly edited. I own a handful of self-published books, but I don’t expect them to be any good. I bought the books to support the author financially. I am honestly in no rush to read them. But regardless of how a book is published, it’s hard to be a reviewer when you know the author. I suspect that the reason why so many indie and self-published authors get so many positive reviews for their books is because readers don’t want to post negative reviews. Or maybe those readers feel compelled to give positive reviews to otherwise mediocre books. I don’t know.
I don’t think I will be reviewing the book I’m currently reading on this blog, but I will give it a star rating on Goodreads. It’s so much easier to give a negative review to a popular book. Won’t my silence on this blog and on YouTube be just as effective as a negative review, but less painful for the author?
Let me know how you approach books by authors you know. Do you review them? Are you more positive than you would be otherwise?