Fellow recommenders of books (librarians, bookstore workers, booksellers, book reviewers, avid readers, and the list goes on…) I’m guessing we face this same problem: what do you do when someone asks “Have you read this book? Did you like it?” and you want to scream to “NOOO!!” at the top of your lungs, but don’t or can’t for some reason or other. This problem has come up a few times recently for me where I just couldn’t tell someone I didn’t like the book they were asking about. There are times when our opinions just need to stay in the backseat about this.
Like if someone comes to me in the library and asks if they should read a particular book, let’s use Life of Pi for example, I can’t just spew out “Omygosh that book bored me to tears, I could hardly stand it.” That would make me a horrible librarian for multiple reasons. One of which being the book has been deemed a great piece of fiction and has won the Man Booker Prize Award in the UK, however, the story is just totally not my cup of tea. Just because I despised the book, doesn’t mean the person asking about it won’t really love it. If I tell them I didn’t like it, they probably won’t even give the book a shot, because being a librarian and an avid reader, my opinion matters. I suppose a polite “Well yeah I’ve read it; it wasn’t really my kinda book. Maybe you would enjoy it more though,” might do, but even that scares people away from books THEY might like and that is the LAST thing I want to do because everyone has a different taste in reading materials. I would hate to have missed out on The Night Circus by Erin Morgentstern(favorite book of 2012!) because one of the haters had told me they wouldn’t recommend it.
I enjoy discussing why and what I do and don’t like about what I’ve read, but there is a time and place for that, like on a blog for example ; ). But the time and place to discourage a book is not when someone is asking someone of “authority” if they should read a particular book if said “authority” doesn’t already know the persons’ specific reading preferences or abilities. It’s completely different, for instance if a reader of Christian Fiction romance comes up to me and asks if they should read “that Fifty Shades of Grey book”. I will (refrain from shouting “NO!” and making bug eyes) keep composure and calmly say, “That’s probably not something you would enjoy, but have you heard of Dee Henderson?”
Don’t worry I will always give my completely honest views and opinions on this blog though. I feel this is one of the places where true views can be shared and discussions can be had without causing too much discouragement of reading to people who would actually enjoy the books anyway. If I don’t like something I will tell you exactly why I don’t like it. I’m much better at articulating exactly what I think about what I’ve read in writing too, so that’s another reason I prefer expressing my REAL opinions on a blog instead of when asked in person.
I never really thought my job “mattered”, but thinking about it now, if a librarian had told me when I was younger “You probably don’t want to read Harry Potter. I couldn’t stand those books! Let’s look for something else,” I would be living an entirely different life right now…
Tell me about your experiences and thoughts!!
Upcoming Review: Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor