Hump Day, Dump Day: The Bad Book Review

I don’t have a ‘hump day, dump day’ book to write about, which may happen more often than not. At least, I’m beginning to think so. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t talk about trashing books in some way.

Personally, I’m not a fan of — and try not to write — 100% negative book reviews. Yet, as any reader knows, sometimes you pick a book because it sounds good or intriguing only to find that it’s anything but good or intriguing. Maybe they aren’t so bad that we just throw in the towel, but sometimes we have no choice. That’s totally fine! I, myself, am slowly learning when to give up on a book I can’t get into, rather than forcing myself to finish what I started.

I don’t want Hump Day, Dump Day to be all about the negative review, per se. Some books are just straight-up bad. No questions about it, hands down, BAD. But, I think what happens more often is that a book isn’t particularly to my liking, your tastes, or whatever. All the lovely, wonderful subjectivity of writing. Bad writing is bad writing, but just because I don’t like the narration, voice, style, or plot doesn’t mean the book is dictionary-definition bad. There have been books that repeatedly teased me with the hope of getting better, only to fail. Yes, I have a specific book in mind. That book, has great reviews on Goodreads. Meaning what exactly? A ton of people loved a book that I hate! Simple as that.

That’s what Hump Day, Dump Day IS about. Books we don’t like. Maybe they aren’t bad books, through and through, but there was something that just didn’t do it for me. I’m willing to publicly share my disdain, without shame, in the hopes of saving another reader the same torment I endured. I wouldn’t say that’s a negative review, just a sharing of opinions.

On that note…here’s a bit of praise, or acceptance, from The New York Times for the negative book review. It has it’s place in the literary world. And to be honest, as a writer…we want criticism, not just unadulterated praise. It makes us better writers and, maybe, people. It’s not an industry or endeavor for the faint of heart or hypersensitive; you have to know how to separate yourself from your work, to a degree. It’s your baby, yes, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the world thinks it’s cute.

More props for the negative book review can be found at The New Yorker, along with some winning examples of why positive only book reviews aren’t necessarily good (or fun to read).