When a Bad Book Needs a Good Spanking

Yesterday I read Valerie Geary’s “My Non-Quandary About Book Reviews” where she discusses the struggle of published and aspiring writers with posting a bad review for a book. 

When a bad book needs a good spanking, I don’t give it.  I can’t.  I don’t give bad book reviews.  Period.  Why you ask? (Whether you did or didn’t I’m gonna tell you.)  There’s a multitude of reasons. 

First off, I don’t want the Karma Fairies smiting down my publishing career before I even get started.  Sure it sounds like a copout to say such a thing but I can’t imagine putting someone else’s work down will further my career in any way.  Like Desmond Tutu says, “If I diminish you, I diminish myself.”  (It’s my new philosophy in my journey to seek inner peace.  No seriously, I’m trying to find myself in all this mess we call life.)

Secondly, I’m not a professional book reviewer nor is my blog about book reviews.  Sure I give the occasional book review on my blog but they are more about sharing my excitement about a book I love to fellow writers.

Another reason I don’t spank books, I don’t know how to give a bad review without slamming it and pointing out where the author went wrong.  I GET ANGRY when I read a book that feels technically wrong.  Things that if my critique partner sent this to me I’d rip her a new one.  What angers me even more is HOW DID THIS CRAP GOT PUBLISHED?!?  *taking a deep breath*

So here’s my problem with writing a bad review for a book,  I can’t do it tactfully without my emotion spilling onto the page.  I even tried to Google how to write a bad book review and couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for.  Valarie followed up her book review post above with “5 Dos and Don'ts for Writing Book Reviews” giving a few basic guidelines when writing a book review.  I’ve got the basics down.  I want to know how to write a BAD book review without; hurting the author’s feelings, inciting a riot from those who did love the book or worse, coming off like an arrogant book snob who’s an expert on the craft of writing a novel when I’m not even published, must less an editor or agent.  If you write/find a straightforward  “How to Write a Bad Book Review” let me know.

If I was NOT a professional writer, I’d be happy to write bad reviews but I am, so I don’t.  As a writer I read books on a whole different level.  It’s not a bad thing but I find I am pickier about what I read.  And for the sake of saving my friends a few bucks, I DO want to tell them which books I would NOT recommend.  Star ratings are generic I know but I do rate my Shelfari bookshelf books in hopes to vaguely guide some people.   

1 star = Heck no, don’t waste your money or time!
2 stars = Why do they even have a 2 stars?  I never rate with a 2.  What’s the point?
3 stars = I thought it was alright, people who like X subject would like it better.
4 stars = Really good book, you should check it out.
5 stars = You’re an idiot if you have not read this book.   

A part of me would like to start a blog page and just list the books I would not recommend but then that seems arrogant in some way.  I’ll keep trying to devise a tactful way of sharing my distastes for a particular book but until then, just search for my star rating on Shelfari bookshelf.

EDIT:  More thoughts on the subject:
Elle Strauss, her post aptly named "Watch Your Mouth"
Nicole McLaughlin writes "Sometimes Books Suck"  I couldn't have said it better.  Cute cartoon to boot.