Criticizing and Critiquing a Book Does NOT Equal Disliking It

leonardo-da-vinciWhenever I find myself discussing a book, someone always has to say “so why’d you read it if you dislike it so much?” or something in the same caliber. It seems to me that some people just don’t understand what discussing a book can mean.

Just because you see me critiquing a book, doesn’t necessarily mean that I hate or dislike it. I’m just admitting that it’s not perfect-which, for some reason, a lot of people can’t seem to understand.

I tend to stay this a lot, but if you can’t admit that your favorite book has places where it could be improved, then it’s a problem. Not being able to admit that nothing is perfect leaves you with a false idea, and even though it might not be harmful, it could end up being so in the long-run.

Saying an extremely homophobic book is perfect shows homophobia. Saying an ableist book is perfect is being ableist. Some people may not see that as a problem, but when someone who is affected by these problems see people defending these books . . . then it’s a problem.

In one of my previous posts, Historical Accuracy and It’s Place in Fantasy/Fiction, I explained how using ‘historical accuracy’ as an excuse to not include diversity was damaging and wrong. What I’m trying to say in this post is another reason–ignoring the lack of diversity or any other problems is just as bad as coming up with an excuse.

You can still appreciate a book while still recognizing it’s shortcomings. That’s basically the definition of reviewing books on a blog or otherwise. We still have to rate and review books despite the rating we eventually give them, but we can still learn to appreciate the book.

Just because you find yourself critiquing a book, doesn’t mean that you dislike it. It just means that you’re able to identify and discuss the problems with something, while still allowing yourself the capacity to like it.

And nothing is wrong with that.

How do you feel about critiquing books you enjoy? Do you think it’s counterproductive, or is it a good thing to be able to do?

8 thoughts on “Criticizing and Critiquing a Book Does NOT Equal Disliking It

  1. Yes!! I’ve wanted to write about this for a while but for a few reasons I haven’t yet (god damn it school). Criticism is not necessarily an immediate dislike. Being critical is not inherently negative. I can be critical of a story and give a critical look at narratives in a positive way. I can look critically at how characters interact with each other and how this affects the plot. I can look critically at how social issues are portrayed. These things are important, and even negative critiques are important. Otherwise, how do we expect authors to learn? You can’t really pity an author because they spent ~soo much time on their novels. Criticism is valid and important, but it can also be positive. And positive doesn’t always mean blind praise. I feel almost as if people are getting used to very black-and-white views on things – you either love it or you hate it and there seems to be no in-between.

    • You just said it a lot better than I did in that whole post! My main reason for posting this was because a friend of mine, who I met because of a certain book, thought I didn’t like that book anymore because I was criticizing it. I just thought that this being something that people automatically assumed was a wrong, so wanted to get it out. But I’m glad that other’s agree! (And you should totally make that post!)

      • I sadly know that too many people fall into that mentality. It’s a shame really, because I want to criticize things, I want to look at things critically without being told I’m just hating on a thing. No, oftentimes I look at a particular piece of media that I really enjoy the potential of and want it to be better. I want to look at it and see what could have been done. I often love a lot of things that people find to be really bad!! It’s just that I’m able to look at things in a critical way.

        I absolutely will make that post when I have the time LOL 😛

  2. I love this post! I’m VERY stingy with my five-star ratings and in my head, no book is a perfect book (even though I’m guilty of saying things like ‘omg this book is PERFECT’ – that usually means that I really, really enjoyed it). I think it’s important to be able to look at something you love and judge it from a more objective POV and understand where it needs improvement (or can have improvements) and why other people might not like it as much. I’ve definitely enjoyed some books that are actually “problematic”, but I try to mention these things in my reviews, and I like to think that I’m aware that they can be problematic. 😛