I was inspired to write this post by a conversation I had earlier. I was discussing how I had quite a few books on my shelf that I simply wasn’t interested in reading anymore. One of them in particular – The Flame in the Mist. I mentioned how I support its message, and the fact it’s diverse, but I’m just not interested in reading it. Which brought me on to an important topic: Is it okay to dislike a book even if you support its existence?
This particular matter has made me conflicted on plenty of ocassions. It’s actually behind my decision to not rate books I DNF. The first book I DNF’d since joining Goodreads was The Hate U Give. I didn’t want people to think I was against a book about the Black Lives Matter movement, or lower the rating of a book when I support its message and want to see it reach other people and be successful. I just didn’t personally enjoy it – that is not a bad thing. But is it bad that I felt unable to give it a low rating just because it’s diverse? Are we placing these books on a pedestal and not judging them fairly?
I feel like lately there’s become this unspoken rule that “diverse” automatically means “good”. And in one way that’s true – that these books exist, that more and more diverse titles are being released through mainstream publishing and getting recognition is a good thing. It’s a sign of positive change. But that doesn’t instantly signify that these books are good quality.
So why shouldn’t I give a low rating to a book, just because it covers an important issue? I’m pretty sure no one wants their book to be published just because it’s diverse – they want it to be published because it’s good. Getting their diverse story into the market is a bonus. And along the same vein, I’m sure they don’t want their book to only get good reviews just because it’s diverse – they want good reviews because people actually enjoyed the book.
So – what do you think? If you thought a book was important would you still be comfortable giving it one star? Is it better to forgo leaving a rating or risk making someone else uncomfortable?