Negative Natalie: Writing Negative Reviews
Have you ever known someone who is so negative that you just have to get away from him or her for self-preservation? Well, that’s how I was feeling about my ‘book reviewing self’ for a while. I had to step away from Negative Natalie, Queen of the 1-or-2 Bookmark reviews, and get some perspective.
For months, I was churning out less-than-glowing reviews of books I’d accepted from publishers or PR firms. I agonized over stars and 1/2 stars, wondering if I shouldn’t just chuck the whole quantitative rating system out the window. I don’t try to make a statement or hurt an author’s feelings with my 1-or-2 Bookmark reviews, I’m just offering up my honest assessment as a reader.
By its definition, reviewing is a subjective form of analysis. There isn’t a universal standard that book bloggers use; maybe my 2 Bookmarks (borrow it) isn’t quite the same as Care’s 2 Slices of Pie. Feeling compelled to check Amazon or GoodReads to make sure I wasn’t the only person to give a book 1 or 2 stars should not be a standard practice in book blogging, but it was a reality for me. While I never changed my review or rating after viewing one of these sites, I frequently felt bit queasy if I was the only person to strongly dislike a book.
While my book blog might not be The New York Times Book Review or a big blog in the online community, I do have fellow bloggers who stop by to check out reviews. Just like I don’t inflate grades at school, I refuse to inflate my book reviews. I won’t sacrifice my integrity to make an author or rep happy.
During my blogging hiatus, I came to the realization that I don’t read Meg’s (or Kathy’s, Ti’s, Steph’s, Candace’s, Jenner’s, Jill’s) blog for positive reviews. I read these blogs (and many others!) to get ideas for new books, updates on what everyone is up to, to check on read-alongs, memes, recipes, author features or interviews, and all the other creative things you see on a book blog. These things, more than reviews, were what I missed most while I was off the grid.
Ultimately, a reading rut did not cause my spate of less-than-glowing reviews. Some of the books I was accepting or purchasing just weren’t my cup of cocoa (1 Bookmark). In the future, there will be 1 or 2 star reviews on Book Line and Sinker because I won’t love every book. As long as I am fair and support my opinion–even if I’m in the minority–my 1 or 2 star reviews will be guilt-free.
Have you ever felt guilty or avoided writing a less-than-glowing review? Do you worry if your review doesn’t line up with the majority?