Where I’m At: July 2019

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Photo by JAEMAN JUNG on Unsplash

I’m settling into my new home, which is much bigger than my old place! I went from a studio apartment to a duplex that has a studio where I can write in peace. That’s pretty great and all, but I haven’t done much writing due to home remodeling and reorganization. But I have been doing my fair share of reading and just this week hit my reading goal for 2019!

In my previous post, I wrote that I would be sharing a new book review by the end of June. This did not come to fruition, but not because I didn’t finish the book or because I didn’t have the time. It was because the book was very, very bad, and I learned that the author wasn’t better.

In a year where I just hit 100 books on my Finished list, I’ve read plenty of titles that either weren’t my taste or were difficult to finish for various reasons. I don’t like calling a book bad when there is a more accurate and honest way to describe it. For example, “It’s not my style,” or “I’m not the author’s target audience,” or “I’m just in the mood for something different at this time,” etc. tend to be the closest to the truth.

I consider a book bad if it is written carelessly. By careless, I don’t mean too strange or too childish or anything like that. I consider a book to be carelessly written if it is:

  • Poorly organized (For example, when a short story collection lacks any cohesion)
  • Poorly edited/proofread or not edited/proofread at all
  • Poorly designed (Book layout is difficult! But it is not difficult to make an e-book readable, even if it may not look pretty.)
  • Poorly completed to the point that it is clearly evident that the writer did not seek any feedback from anybody, at all

The short story collection that I was going to review was, at least, cohesive in two senses: (1) all of the stories shared a common socio-cultural theme, and (2) they were all terrible. In past anthologies and collections that I’ve reviewed, there have been a fair share of dull or flat out not good stories. But in each of these books, there were still amazing gems, even if there was just one. These special stories are why I never regret reading what may ultimately be a mediocre collection. But the stories in this particular collection were so exposition-heavy that the author could’ve turned each into (boring) novels, were littered with typos that were clearly not a style choice (made even less forgivable by this being published through a small press, not via self-publishing), and were rife with problematic at worst, awkward at best attempts at covering social issues that made these dense stories extremely heavy-handed.

Simply put, it was a bad book and I hated it.

But I was now stuck with a decision: I’d never received a truly bad, completely terrible book to review before. This book was received via LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program, which made me excited to get it. This left me feeling annoyed with LibraryThing, and feeling sad for the author. I felt like a asshole to write them a bad (but honest) review, and I also know how desperately authors rely on reviews for exposure.

Out of curiosity, I looked up the author’s Goodreads page. It linked to their blog, which contained harmful conspiracy theories and a ton of rambling posts that, while it was difficult to determine a point to any of them, included plenty of creepy shit. So, uh, yeah. No review.

I’m incredibly disappointed that LibraryThing included this book in their Early Reviewer program, but I’ve learned my lesson: before wasting my time reading or even bidding on a Early Reviewers book, I’ll do my research.

Anyway, to make up for it, I plan to make a post next week featuring my favorite books so far this year! I promise, none of them will be bad books. 🙂

One comment

  1. I admire your ability to write a bad review of a bad book. Considering your reasons, I don’t blame you, at all.
    I wish I was that brave. In my own experience, I’m often too afraid of hurting someone’s feelings (which I did once before and received a scathing letter in retaliation…).
    However, my honesty wins over my niceties, so if I can’t say something nice, I just don’t say anything. Though sometimes, I’d love to let loose…
    In your situation, a poor review for a creepy author seems justifiable. Kudos.

    Liked by 1 person

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