How do you write a review with honesty and respect?

I have a dilemma. I recently read a book that I didn’t care for and I am having trouble deciding how to write the review. So much so, it has come to deciding if I will write a review.

The thing is, I’ve written negative reviews before, so that’s not the problem. When I do write a review on a book I didn’t like, I try to be honest and fair without being too harsh. Which can be difficult. In my negative reviews, I try to also point out those things that I did like about the book. But how do you balance a review with honesty and grace?

So, my question is: when you read a book that you do not like, and you have no commitment to write the review (as in, the book was not sent to you for free from the publisher in exchange for a review), what do you do?

Do you write the review because you spent the money to purchase the book and the time to read it? Or, do you pass on reviewing the book because it’s too hard to find that balance?

I want to stay true to myself, but I also want to respect the work of the author.

I would love some feedback on this topic. To my fellow book bloggers, what do you do? Are you faced with this dilemma often? And to my readers, how do you feel about negative reviews? Do they turn you off from the book or does the review reflect more on how you see the blogger?

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10 thoughts on “How do you write a review with honesty and respect?

  1. Cassie, interesting blog post for sure, because I’ve come up against this dilemma as well. Usually if there were parts of the book I liked, I’ll still write a review, even though it wasn’t my favorite book ever. But then there are those books that I’m not obligated to write a review about and I just can’t find anything good to say. At that point, I choose not to write a review. I grew up under the mantra, “If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all.” So I guess that has seeped into my reviews. πŸ˜‰
    Also, I am in the process of writing a trilogy, and I can’t help but think of how I would feel if I got a really bad review. Of course, I would want people to be honest about how what they thought, but I don’t believe anyone wants to get a scathing review. So I prefer to give good reviews and balanced reviews rather than “bad” reviews. I also really struggle with writing a “bad” review because I know how much work the author went to to write their book.
    Bottom line is, when I’m blogging, I’m giving my opinion of books, so I would much rather tell the world how much I loved the latest book I read and rave on and on about it, than tell them how much I disliked so-and-so’s novel.
    I’m interested to see what other book reviewers’ thoughts are on this subject.

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    1. Hi Grace, thanks for such a thoughtful response! I agree with everything you said; I always want to share my honest opinions on my blog, but I also don’t want to intentionally hurt an author’s feelings. With all the work, time, and research they put into their books, I don’t want to discredit their work. Also, a book I absolutely can’t stand might be a book that the person sitting next to me might love. It’s hard because it can be so subjective from one person’s perspective to the next.

      With that said, I think I will have to decide on a book by book basis whether or not I will write a review- if I can find something I liked about the book, I will write about that in order to balance my review. But, I don’t think I will skip over those books that aren’t my favorites because, I think, my credibility as a blogger is reinforced when I don’t always have glowing reviews.

      Thanks for your insights!

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  2. Whether or not you choose to review is up to you, but personally, when I don’t like a book I review it to help sort out my feelings and ask questions. Someone else may have insight or may have wondered the same thing. As long as you are respectful and your criticism is constructive, I don’t think there is a problem with a negative review. The whole point is to share your thoughts.

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    1. Hi Amy! I really like what you said about having constructive criticism in a review. In this particular case, every time I think about what I would write, my dislike for this book clouds my thoughts and I feel that the review would be mean, and not constructive. Like I said in my post, I have written negative reviews before, but there’s something about this book that I can’t seem to get past. I’m not sure what it really is, but it may just be that the genre is not one I typically read.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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  3. I usually don’t. It’s not that every review needs to be glowing for my blog, but if I really really didn’t like the book, my personal choice is just not to. Plus I have a tight schedule already, so it works out for me. If I see other posts about it (like on goodreads or other blogs I follow), then I like to discuss it. Not sure if that helps or not, but I totally feel you!

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    1. Jamie, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I think I have decided to pass on this particular book. I like your idea about discussing the book when other people post about it- I think that is a great solution for this dilemma! I hope someone reads and reviews it soon, then! So glad you stopped by πŸ™‚

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  4. Great post, Cassie. I wrote a blog post on a similar subject a while back also. It is hard to balance the good vs. bad but I’m always drilling into my mind that honesty is the best policy, and with respect and kindness, a reviewer *has* to obey that “rule” of book reviewing.

    As for reviewing a book that I am not obligated to review, I really cannot say since I’ve been unable to read any books I’ve bought/been gifted for a while – that’s how busy I keep with review copies. That being said, I think it would depend on the book. If it’s really popular I probably would review it no matter my reaction. If it’s got little buzz surrounding it and I felt so-so, then in all likelihood I’d skip it. Just depends.

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