Sunday, April 20, 2014

Books - Good. Bad. Horrible. Like. Don’t Like.


I have been reading voraciously as much as I can utilizing all my travel time in reading. And while I am at that, I have been posting book reviews on my blog which has attracted readers, authors as well as publishers. So increasingly I get requests for review from Authors and Publishers too. As of date, I have books lined up till July for reviews.

Now, when I agree to review a book, all I have in terms of decision making info are the book title, cover and book blurb. Sometimes the author bio helps and also the reviews/ratings on goodreads. Once in a while, I get a book which does not have the 'reviews' on goodreads or much of info outside.

This kind of increases the 'risk' of reading for reviewing a bad book !!

It has been a couple of times that I have come across books which I would give a zero or 1 rating out of 5. If these are book reviews done on request from author or publisher, I send the review to them asking them if they want me to post the review on the blog. Most choose the negative but in a rare case, they actually ask me to share the review on the blog but do add in a request to reconsider the 'harshness' of the review.


I have unfortunately read books that are very badly written. Grammar is tossed out of the window and the writing style is very patchy. In fact, I am just short of pulling my hair out while reading them. And at the same time, I am caught up in a dilemma. Can I discard / abandon the book or do I complete it. I need to complete it because I committed to reviewing the book and it won't be right to review a book without completing it. Also, there is hope at times that a book might indeed have a good storyline, a good plot or a super climax.

Then there are times … when I feel, if the book is not good half-way through, how does it matter if it ends well or suddenly becomes better. I do have thoughts which justify abandoning a bad book and writing a negative review about it. I want to abandon the book mid-way and apologize to the author/publisher for my inability to review it ... and at the same time, give them a 'piece of mind' for publishing such a bad book.  

Coming to bad books … while I consider that the author may not be good at English or with Grammar … my greater problem often is that the author is NOT a good story-teller. You got to be a good story teller. I am sure you could hire someone to polish your writings and improve the language and grammar aspects … but the ghost writer is NOT going to improve your story or story-telling.

As much as I blame the author for writing total crap … I also blame the publisher for publishing this as it is. I firmly believe that all publishers have a responsibility towards their readers. Another side of this coin is that a lot of authors when rejected by the publishers go the self-publishing way … so now there is no one to perform sanity-check quality-check readability-check …

I can understand an author not being great in his narration or writing style or even grammar. But the publisher allowing such a book to get published is not acceptable. The publisher should work with the author and invest in ironing out the wrinkles and creating a good palatable product. Not publishing at all is far more preferable than publishing a piece of work which is not consumable.

So we clearly have Good Books and Bad Books. Or do we?

We talked about Bad Books above and now coming to Good Books. They are books which are well written and are interesting and get rave reviews from a lot of people. BUT does that mean that you will like the book.

Not at All

Whether you like the book or not is something that depends on you … the reader. A perfectly fantastic book … having won accolades as well as awards … disappoints you no end. It has happened to me several times. There have been both Popular as well as Award winning books, that I have not liked. Its just that they don't appeal to me. I don't find them interesting or notice some glaring mistakes and imperfections in the story making it unpalatable. Its just me.

So that brings the category of Books one likes and one doesn't like. Got nothing to do with the author or publisher.

So .. now when you come across such a book, how do you rate it. Everyone is praising it but you find it non-sense / crap / bull-shit. What do you do then? Follow the herd and write some praise about it … or rip it apart and give it a low rating and risk being criticized.

Well, my philosophy was to write what I feel and not otherwise.

I did not like the award-winning Asura so I thrashed it … and still the author/publisher decided to send me Ajaya (author's second book) … and I loved this one. I also did not like the third part of the now famous Shiva Trilogy. Fountainhead went way over my head and the 'God of Small Things' went way over the top. As I said, that's just me.

So … if a book is bad, god help us.

If the book is good, no guarantee that you will like it ...


  1. You are right, Hemant. Interpreting a book is a pretty subjective thing.

    What worked for 99 readers doesn't guarantee that it'll work for the 100th reader.

    Book reviews sound credible not because of whether the reviewer gave it a thumbs up or down.

    If you can walk the blog reader through the rationale and give it some level of objectivity, you've done your job.

    Looking forward to see what you have to say about 'Business Doctors'.

  2. @Sameer - Biz Docs is scheduled for August so quite some time for that. The underlying idea seems good for a novel and i hope the author has spur a masterpiece out of it.

  3. You're totally right on the liking/disliking of a book. Bar the books which have grammatical or downright pathetic storylines, it's all about the perspective!