It happens more than I would like to admit.
I write a review and find myself pausing.
Am I being too mean?
I understand that the author of even the worst book spent years of their life writing and re-writing, creating and refining characters, planning and
dreaming and working. There is a distinction between literary criticism and
cruelty. I want to be the kind of reviewer who stays way over on one side of
that line. A bad writer can improve. A good writer can and will occasionally
write a dud. And can we just take a minute to mention the subjectivity of enjoying a book?
On the other hand, my job as someone who reviews books is to distinguish
between good writing and bad writing, and to guide anyone who reads my reviews towards the books they should spend their precious time reading.
So I often find myself reading a snippet aloud to my husband to double check
that it's insightful instead of insulting. I can point out both the good and
the bad in a book without stomping on anyone's hard work. It's easy to write a
zinger that is a bit funny and a bit cruel, but it's harder to point out places
where the narrative could have been smoother or the characters written more
vividly while also writing about the strengths of a particular book.
How about you? Do you sometimes find it hard to navigate between critical