Blogger Confession: Being a Grumpy Picky Reader and Reviewer

Posted October 22, 2013 by Felicia S in Blogger Confession / 35 Comments


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Blogger Confession:  I am a grumpy picky reader at times and my reviews reflect that!

NOTE: This is going to be a bit of a ramble! I woke up in one of those moods.

Lately the old “you should only post good reviews” conversation has been popping up. I think this is tied into the goodreads hoopla on shelving names or maybe with all the author/blogger relations that play out like a soap opera over the interwebs.  I have always kind of stayed out of it because really that drama feels manufactured to me (a way to get hits or notoriety).  Here is my stance:  I feel like you should post what you want and name your shelves what you want too.  If you want to post only good reviews then you should (sometimes we just like to forget the ones that didn’t work for us).  Same with if you want to post reviews all over the place (good, bad, inbetween) then you should (I don’t believe in posting personal attacks though so please don’t take this as a support of that reviewing device).  Personally, I am more in the second group of people because I don’t like every story I read. Though I read plenty of blogs that fall into the first category too. I wish I liked every story I have read but unless I was writing them all for myself there is no way that can possibly happen. Since my blog is ultimately a way to keep track of what I have read, then the good, the bad, and the ugly all appear here.  On goodreads, I have shelves named “didn’t work for me but will for others”, “1 wine glass”, and “DNF”.  There are books on those shelves because they accurately reflect how I felt about that story.

Is it a mood thing? Maybe

Is it a style thing? Maybe

Is it something else entirely? Maybe

I don’t apologize for any of those reasons.  Unless you are making the review personal towards the author (which you should never do) then you shouldn’t apologize either!  We are allowed to not like stories for any reason we darn well like.  There I said it!  You have permission to not like something.  No one has led the same exact life as you.  You may personally dislike any storyline in which the character has a trait that you just can’t stand.  Not everyone will have a problem with it but it grates on your nerves.  It isn’t the author’s fault and it isn’t your fault.  It just is!  This is why reading is so personal!  We all have things in our lives, our past, and our thoughts that play a part in every story we read.  Heck, I have LOVED some stories that 70% of the people just thought was “meh”.  I didn’t feel the need to apologize after that either.  It works both ways with reading and that is what is wonderful about it.  I think if you read with other people in mind, you are missing a part of the story that will uniquely be your own. Who wants to  miss that?

grumpy reader

I think in this day and age when readers and authors are connected more than ever before that we feel bad when we don’t like a book.  I mean in person, you don’t go up and talk to authors about their stories that you didn’t love.  You talk about the ones that just made you fall head over heels.  In the virtual space, it is all there in black and white.   Does that mean that we have to hold back on how we feel? No. First, in most cases even if the author sees that you dislike a story, she/he will probably not remember that is was you that disliked something if you meet them in person. Even if they do remember, I don’t think they are going to call you on it. We have to remember that authors are readers too.  They understand (at least most of them do) that not every story works for every reader.  They get that it isn’t personal when we don’t connect with their characters. They understand that we each read their book differently than they wrote it.  They wrote the book (and characters) that they wanted and put it out to the world to be devoured by readers from every walk of life.  They understand that it won’t work for some.  This is why I love authors, they create something that we each take and make our own while reading.  They support us doing that! Yes, they would prefer we all love their work but most of them don’t take it personally when we don’t.

In the end remember reading is personal and you are allowed to be a grumpy picky reader! You are allowed to love and hate characters based on your own personal experience.  You are allowed to agree/disagree with your friends about what works/doesn’t work in story.

Personal Note from a Review Reader (me): Embrace your views (good and bad) on stories because it is the uniqueness of your POV that makes reading reviews so much fun. I want to know how the story impacted you and what you liked/didn’t like about it.  I know I look forward to reading reviews every day. I have found awesome stories that way. I have found people who have liked/disliked the same stories as me and we have wonderful conversations over it.  I have found people who have exact opposite feelings about a story than I do and we have wonderful conversations around our differences too.  In the end, I have found that as long as you are honest about how you feel then your reviews are genuinely great to read. I personally am a huge fan of when your love of reading shines through in a review.  Don’t feel pressured (either way) to post good/bad reviews.  Just be true to your experience with a story and let the rest of the hoopla play out on the interwebs.  Remember: that isn’t personal either!


Felicia S
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35 responses to “Blogger Confession: Being a Grumpy Picky Reader and Reviewer

  1. Kristilyn (Reading in Winter)

    I have definitely written some bad reviews … like you, my blog is so I can track what I read. If I hate something, I’m going to give the reasons why. I like to share my love — and hatred — of certain books. If I was positive all the time, it wouldn’t be fun!

  2. Wonderful post, as a picky reader and explorer my reviews generally fall in the 3 to 4 range but I do get the occasional DNF, and two star and the glorious book high of a five star. I have a DNF shelf on GR and without bashing state why I didn’t finish. Like you my reviews are honest and fair, even a two star had some redeeming quality otherwise I would have DNF’d it. We all can’t love every genre and every book. The world would be a boring place if we did.

  3. I’m a coward as I have a ‘didn’t like’ shelf on my Kobo but won’t shelve the books in the same manner publicly on Goodreads. Too much vitriol.

  4. Well said girl!
    I don’t have a lot low reviews on my blog because, frankly, if I’m not enjoying the book by the 5 chapter I won’t continue listening, it could be the greatest written book ever, but if the narrator are blowing it, I’m done.
    I don’t read reviews or follow reviewers where they attack the author or other readers for liking the book. I think some peeps are mean-spirited and some of their reviews are howls for attention.
    I can tell by the bloggers I follow how much I’m going to enjoy a book, some are more generous with their ratings (like me) some are not, so I know that if someone only gives very special (blow their mind) book 5 star then I know a rating of 3 is probably a 4 for me, so I judge accordingly.
    I like the idea of stating if you would read the reviewed author again.

  5. Great post! I try to post what I read, whether I like it or not, but on the negative ones I always try to find at least one thing that might appeal to another reader. I think that stems from my awe of how much work goes into a book, I don’t want the poor thing to feel rejected 😉

  6. Love your rant, Felicia. It keeps things interesting that we all have a different approach on reviews. I admit that when I’m not feeling a book I just put it down and move on to another one. I can’t make myself finish and review a book I dislike, though luckily since I know my taste pretty well that doesn’t happen too often 🙂
    Yay to grumpy picky readers!

    • I love the diversity that is the blogsphere. It is the reason I have no problem with people doing it their own way 🙂 I think most of my “disappointments” happen when I venture outside my comfort zone but I push myself to do that a few times a year. Like you though if I am in my “zone” most of the ones I pick up are pretty darn good!

  7. I totally agree! Reading is personal and subjective. Everyone is going to take away something different from the text. I wish people would understand that. Plus, it’s fun to see the different reactions a book can generate.

    • I wish people understood that too. I mean we both read the same words but our interpretation of those words/emotions may be totally different. It is totally fun to see the wide range of reactions!

  8. YES!! I totally agree (and, dang, there’s been a lot of chatter about posting only good reviews lately. *sigh*). I’m a moody, picky reader. Sometimes I love books, sometimes I hate them. I’m too lazy to name Goodreads shelves but, if I did, I totally would… /ramble

    • I know what is up with the chatter? Scratch that I don’t want to know LOL I just kind of shake my head and go “come on people–the interwebs are huge and there is room for us all” 🙂

      *high 5* moody picky readers RULE!

  9. It’s hard for me to gauge reviewers thoughts when they are only positive. Not that I think they are lying or anything (although I am sometimes suspicious of the OMG only reviews) but how can I tell what I will like in a book without a broad spectrum of reviews for comparison.

    I will just as quickly pick up a book based on a negative review. In fact, sometimes more often than a glowing one.

    I don’t really understand why anyone even stresses over it. It’s just a personal blog with your thoughts on any given subject. It’s just not a big deal to me.

    For the personal attack reviews – which are wrong – I just skip them. That’s not a reviewer I would follow anyway,

    • THIS>>>>>>>I don’t really understand why anyone even stresses over it. It’s just a personal blog with your thoughts on any given subject. It’s just not a big deal to me.

      I really don’t get it either! I mean if you don’t want to read a way certain people do reviews then don’t. You don’t need to tell them to stop doing it to suit you!

      It is hard to gauge when people only like books but that is when I pay special attention to what they write and not the rating. I know what you about the OMG (ALWAYS) reviews though. I think they are either super lucky or afraid to say anything bad.

      Personal attack reviews are just wrong (just like personal attack shelf names). Those I don’t support at all!

  10. Great post Felicia, and I do agree with you. I have to admit, I have a really hard time writing a review about a book I did not like. So my blog is 99% very positive. Also because I am a series reader, and once I like an authors voice, I will be a loyal follower.
    When I don’t like a book, I often won’t finish it, and don’t want to spend more time struggling with a review. Yes, those opinions should be heard as well, but I personally just can’t. And I will never, ever tell an author I did not like their book.

    • I have a hard time writing a review for the ones I didn’t like too. Not because I feel bad about not liking it but because it is hard to put into words what I didn’t like about. That being said, I have no problem with people who choose to skip writing negative reviews. I understand the pressure to do them right so they are fair 🙂

      I wish I put books down more easily. I have done it twice in the last 2 weeks (though I still made 50% of each book) and hopefully will get better.

  11. ABSOLUTELY! Agree with you 100%!

    I’ve gotten books based on bad reviews. I mean those that do not attack personally but didn’t like the book. They didn’t like a. b. c. d… but I do! Oh then I might enjoy what they didn’t. I think authors shouldn’t worry about those “bad” reviews as long as it is done well. I’m not the only one who feels that way. I also don’t shun anything below a 3 star rating. Usually means they still enjoyed it. Not everything can be a 5 and I would be bored with only reading 5s oddly enough.

    I think that if you are a reviewer, you have to remember that you will loose an author if you don’t give only stellar ratings. I’ve reviewed an author who I loved one series, but another just wasn’t my cuppa. I never heard back from them again. I still will pick up that author’s work though. I didn’t take it personally. I understand. They put their work out there and have to be criticized. It’s hard to take even when it is done evenly. Even gentle criticism can be hard to take. This doesn’t stop me from trying to be as honest as possible. You need that honestly out there too.

    • I think most authors don’t read reviews period or do so on the sly. If they are sensitive then they know to stay away because even a good review will have some criticism in it 🙂

      Me too on buying a book based on a bad review. I like things other people do not and vice versa. When people are specific it really helps me to go–“Oh I like werewolves with bare chests and I am sorry it doesn’t work for you but I am getting that book”!

      THIS>>>>I think that if you are a reviewer, you have to remember that you will loose an author if you don’t give only stellar ratings.

      I think that is why some people are afraid of “bad ratings and reviews”. I don’t worry about it because well my blog is to track and to connect with other readers. It has been a great perk to interact with authors but it is not my ultimate goals!


  12. I hate the post only good reviews. How the F would I know then if a book fits me or not? It would drive me insane if I bought book after book and hated it just cos no one had the guts to say the truth.

    So yes I post the good the bad and the ugly 😉

    • I love that you post the good, the bad, and the ugly. I also love how fair you are about it. You are specific in what you don’t like and that lets me know exactly where you stand!

  13. I did a post on review ratings this summer and I touched on some of the topics in your post. I agree everyone has a right to their opinion and I prefer a balance of reviews. I don’t trust reviewers that only post glowing reviews because then I have read a book they loved and thought WTF? I know everyone has their opinion and I appreciate that we can read blogs that share their thoughts good or bad on books. I will never attack an author on my blog or even in emails because that will come back and bite you in the ass. However, I will continue to provide constructive criticism because I feel it is necessary to help the author improve.

    • I don’t get people who attack authors in emails, facebook, or twitter. I don’t understand what the point is. Just like tweeting an author a review of their work that is “bad” isn’t good either. I tend not to tweet my reviews to authors anyway but in those cases I definitely don’t!

      I love how your reviews flow. I like that you start and end with positive but you include what didn’t work for you! It is excellent!

  14. Great post! I used to have a hard time writing a negative review. I still don’t really write ‘negative’ reviews but I do rate book lower than I used to. Basically, you’re right. It’s a personal thing. I even warn people before I finish that what I didn’t like about it others may love. As long as you don’t blast the author and give valid reasons for not liking a book – if you can pinpoint a specific reason…. sometimes I just can’t. It’s usually because something just rubbed me the wrong way or I just didn’t click with the characters or the story.

    I’ve also discovered that it can be a mood thing. I recently re-read a book that I just didn’t ‘get’ the first time, but ended up loving it the second. What was the difference? I have no idea.

    Yep, reading’s a personal thing and your perspective may not be the same as mine. That’s okay though. There’s a lot of books out there and we can’t love them all 😉

    • I was looking at my ratings the other day and evidently in 2010 I was a real stickler. Most of my books fall in the 3 category. I enjoy them but they aren’t 4s. Sometimes I can’t even really tell you why but they just don’t stick with me. So I have a hard time writing those reviews too.

      Moods! Aren’t they killer! I have done that with a book too. Hated it the first time I read it but the second time adored it. I have had the opposite happen too.

      Beautiful statement: There’s a lot of books out there and we can’t love them all 😉

  15. Do not participate in the Hoopla either but will say this and it holds true long before 2009 when started my blog, reading is my joyful/passionate/#1 hobby and when read it is guaranteed there is something somewhere in the book that “moves” me or would never have picked it up in the first place.

    Rating a book at 5 stars means I loved it from start to finish even with grammer or punctuation glitches. 4 stars means liked it enough to share and recommend to others, 3 stars it was okay but will never reread and if less than that then no review but will rate on Goodreads so know read the book at least.

    Respect for others is ingrained too strongly for me to ever sling mud against a fellow blogger or an author either, my parents taught me better manners in public or in private!

    I am happy to still be a part of the community of book lovers online but have no desire to add to the “drama” that crops up regularly, so yes my opinion on a book can be taken or left and does not make a difference as my “hobby” is for personal pleasure first anyway.

    • I used my blog as a tracking tool so all my reads end up on here (only because I can’t control goodreads server LOL). There is usually something in a book that resonates with me but not always (about 1 in 400 books are that way). I am always respectful and always point out that it will work for others. I believe you can be respectful and not like something (even be specific about what you don’t like). The hoopla gets on my nerves and sometimes just makes me shake my head. I think the internet makes people forget manners and common courtesy. I kind of come from a place of “would I say this in person to someone”..if I would then I go ahead and write it. Like you, my thoughts on how to treat people are ingrained from a long line of strong but respectful women 🙂

      Great comment Jackie! 🙂

  16. Well put.

    Most of my reading is series and every series has a book or two that’s not as great as the others. Maybe it was slow moving or I didn’t like some of the actions the character(s) did. Or maybe the setting was different and I didn’t like that change. But that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy the author’s writing and most likely I’m going to continue the series unless the change was so big that I can’t.

    I’m starting to get into more YA books. But I’ve only really read YA books by authors that also write adult books that I’ve read and loved. Sometimes I don’t enjoy the YA books as much as their adult ones. But that’s just because I’m not a big YA reader. But since I love the authors writing in other series I’ll give it a try.

    One thing I’m going to start adding to my reviews is something I’ve see on other blogs. For example Jennifer Estep (an author that also reviews books she’s read) she has at the end of her reviews she closes it out with this question “Would I read this author again”. I think that works really well for point in a review. You might not enjoyed the book you read for some reason but that doesn’t mean you won’t give another book by the same author a try.

    I sometimes use the question “Will I continue the series” at the end of my reviews. I use it when I’m new to a series and only read 2 or 3 books. I think it’s a good way to let my readers know that I’m invested in the series and I will continue or that I’ve reached my limit with a series and will drop it.

    • Now that is a brilliant idea! There are a lot of times (95%) when I would read the author again even if that particular book would not resonate with me.

      Oh look at you branching into YA! I keep trying and honestly have only found about 5% of them work for me. In that case, it is always me not the book. I am always willing to give a book a try by an author I have read. Jennifer is a great example of that 🙂

      I am with you on series. In fact, it is sort of what prompted this post. The latest Kevin Hearne was not fantastic to me. Oh I really liked parts but overall it was just “meh”. I have only broken up with 3 series so far but that is so hard.

      Thanks for adding to the conversation! You brought up excellent posts!

  17. I loved this post! Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this Felicia 🙂 I don’t like it when I read a review and it is all bad like an attack on the story and author, they worked so hard to get their work out there. I agree we have the right to our opinions and good/bad reviews but there is respectful way of doing it too.

    • I don’t think anything constructive EVER comes out of “attacking” behavior be it to an author or a story. You can be specific about what you didn’t like without being harsh. Luckily, no one I follow is ever harsh. 🙂

      Thank you for adding to the conversation! I love your points!