Early this year I happened to read a book and dislike it. That happens. A lot more than once a year, I tell you. But when that book is actually quite popular, it seems to become something more. Something like a problem. My problem. Because I don’t like this book, people make assumptions: “oh, but you must have mis-read… this book is so great, you just can’t dislike it!”. When I persist to dislike, they jump to not-very-nice conclusions: “If you don’t like this book that is so great, then you are definitely [fill in the blank with anything from slightly depreciative to downright rude]”. Which is the part where it becomes not so funny anymore.
Now, I didn’t mean to make fun of that book. I respect people who love it, but for me, the magic didn’t work. I just don’t understand why it has become so hyped-up. I didn’t find in there what other people have, namely generosity, open-heartedness, the kind of book that changes your life. Lucky you if it changed your life, but don’t come reproach me that it didn’t. That’s not quite a generous move.
This blog is not very popular, just a quiet place where I hope other book-lovers can drop by and say hello from time to time. But if I trust WordPress statistics, this negative post on that popular book is increasingly becoming my most popular post, which is a shame indeed. I would so much prefer people to come to my blog for something better, say Philip Roth or Henry James. Why didn’t I get any flame for Roth novels for example? I’d be happy to engage in a constructive discussion, but on this particular book and post, I’m becoming increasingly tired.
I don’t want to moderate every comment, because the process is heavy for but a few inconsiderate bloggers, but I had to for this post. It cost me a lot but I edited rude comments, leaving the just-very-negative ones for the moment (lest I’d be accused, not only of disliking a great book, but of not tolerating criticism on top of that). And I’m on the verge of removing this particular post altogether. But then I’m entitled to say that I dislike this book, am I not?
Here I am seized with self-doubt. Maybe I’m overly sensitive and these comments didn’t really mean to be rude, just that a lack of context made them seem so. Maybe I called it upon myself. Maybe I should be very gentle in all my book reviews. Maybe I should even refrain from writing negative reviews and just get to the next book. But I guess it wouldn’t be as fun. I can’t do self-restraint in my own blog, I practice it enough in my professional life. And I consider, perhaps unduly, that criticism against a book is fair-play, unlike criticism against a person. I know it hurts when someone tells you that your story sucks, but so far I never had the honor of having an author complain about my book reviews.
I saw some blog-friends struggle with trolls and politeness rules, and I agree that this kind of problem is unavoidable. But faced with this (c)rude reality, I’m not very comfortable with any option left to me. How I wish people would know to remain considerate in their criticism! I don’t want to self-google, but I wonder how so many people get to this particular post. Any idea on how to remove any outside link?