Monday, March 7, 2011

How Do You Deal With Bad Book Recommendations?

Have you ever experienced when someone (maybe a friend, a fellow blogger, a teacher, or someone else you know) talked you into reading a book - maybe through a book review or direct suggestion - because it's supposed to be really good, so you hurry and pick up a copy and then, reading through the pages, you find that the book is not any good at all?

You were so excited at the thought of enjoying a book that your friend loved so much but it's not working for you and only leaves you cold.  And then here comes the friend asking you what you thought of the story, expecting you to give a really excited and favorable reply.  What do you do?

Do you:

a.  Tell your friend that the book is bad.
b.  Suck it up and say it's really great (even if you shudder inside)

I'm asking you this because I have encountered situations like this and I'm always at a loss as to what to actually do.  Especially if that person is really close to me.  There was this one time when a really good friend from college and I were looking around in a bookstore and she picked up a particular book and told me to read it.  Trusting that her book taste is really good I bought it and read it that same day.  However, I was totally bummed about the whole story - it was too slow, self-righteous, and disorganized.  I had to put the book down after several attempts to get into it.  The next time that my friend and I met, she asked me what I thought about the book and not wanting to hurt her  feelings, I was unable to tell her the truth and just said that it was really great and then changed the subject.  It felt uncomfortable for a short while but I was too chicken to tell her what I really thought anyway so I just had to swallow the guilt.

I am also asking you for the sake of opening a potentially interesting conversation.  Because most of us are book bloggers, we more or less affect other reader's/blogger's decision to read a certain book.  And many are saying that bloggers don't really sell books but from what I am seeing, it appears otherwise.  So if bloggers actually sell books, did you - as a buyer - ever encounter getting a book that turned out to be mediocre through a blogger or someone else's urging?


  1. 'It wasn't really for me, sorry!' I'll try some more by that Author though.'

    Something like that!

  2. I always told them if I dislike the book they like. As a matter of fact sometimes me, Mithee, and Kayz have different opinion about a book and we told each others about it. I've also read a book because I'm curious after reading so many great reviews about it, and I was disappointed because I think it wasn't as good as what they said. But it's normal to have different taste. What works for you might not works for others, vice versa.

  3. I'd just say that I didn't like it and why. No one likes everything.

  4. My friends tell me what to expect in a book they suggest I read. I always ask to know if I can get into it first.

    If the book didn't catch my interest, I tell them why and don't hide nothing from them. I can usually find stuff in every book I read that I like, and that keeps me interested in reading it all they way through, but that doesn't mean its good in my opinion. I tell my friends up front if I didn't like something they loved reading. It doesn't hurt their feelings, but it might disappoint them for a moment because their expectations were high.


  5. I don't think it's bad to tell your friend you didn't like it. Maybe, not say the book is bad, but say something to the effect that you just didn't care for it.

  6. I have to be honest on a couple of occasions I have chickened out and just said i loved it and was glad they gave it to me, whilst shaking inside.
    It did catch up with me once, when they then asked me to go to a book signing for that book and was really excited. I had to confess. She wasn't mad but said i should have just told her.
    I try to be honest now, but tactfully tell them, just say 'it wasn't for me but thanks for the recommendation anyway.'
    I do find myself backing down sometimes though, i think it depends on the person and their enthusiasm.

  7. Oh, I think it is great fun when I disagree about a book with friends; it certainly opens the doors for great literary discussion. Nothing to feel bad about, just your taste differs.

  8. I don't mind people recommending books to me. I will even record their recommendations, and look at the blurb and reviews and decide if I want to read it. What I really hate and don't know how to handle is when someone HANDS me THEIR book to read. Now, you know how tall those TBR piles are, and I just don't know what to do when someone does that. If I take the book, I feel pressured to read it, soon.

    I don't have much of a problem telling someone "I read it but it wasn't my thing." That's not the biggest problem for me, it's the books that they HAND to me -- how do I say "no thanks???"

  9. This happens with me and my sister all the time! We're brutally honest with each other though. It's great. We both love YA, but we like different books within the genre. Even though we often disagree, I have some of my best book conversations with her.

    What I find more awkward is when someone who isn't a close friend recommends a book and I end up disliking it. Then I'll usually say something along the lines of "I can see why you like the book, but it isn't my style"

  10. It's great that most of you guys really know how to deal with this situation. I admit I'm a bit of a chicken when it comes to such discussions because I'm too scared of hurting the other person's feelings...but I do try to be really honest sometimes and I'm really trying hard to work on my attitude.

    I love hearing about your thoughts, thanks a lot!

  11. I have always been frank with my friends about how I feel for a book. They follow my blog anyway. For example, "As The Crow Flies" was recommended by a good friend of mine, she liked it very much... but I didn't.

    I think it's OK to say to your friend you don't like a book she recommends.. after all, we are entitled to our own opinions and what works for one person wouldn't work for the other.. no matter how good the book is.

    So don't feel so bad about it :)

  12. This happens to me all of the time. I have one teacher who has an amazing floor-to-ceiling library on one side of her classroom, and whenever I go in to borrow books she usually suggests some. However, I feel like I can't turn her suggestions down! When they aren't great books or I just wasn't into them, I let her know when she asks. She usually responds with, "Oh, I'm sorry you didn't like it. How about this one?" What can I say, I can't say no to a book. :)

  13. That could be awkward but I think it is best to be honest but kind. I might be thinking: OMG! what an awful book! What is wrong with you! but I would say something very diplomatic. this situation could be great for interesting book discussions.

  14. I'm usually pretty honest, but not in a mean way. Then again, I recommend books all the time (duh, I have a book blog) and I don't get mad if people don't like the same books as me either. I suppose if I had received a recommendation from someone I knew was really sensitive about it or something I might worry more...


I just have to tell you, ARGH feeds on awesomeness, so if you can, drop him some awesome here, and I promise to give some awesome back :D

Right now, because of my really busy schedule, I'm cutting back on receiving awards. So until further notice, me and ARGH would not be accepting awards. But thank you for thinking of us, we really appreciate it!