I Am Allowed to Dislike Books

The year is almost over and I am one book away from having read forty this year—and I think I’m going to make it. I was thinking back over my books of 2013, because one of my friends said it was funny that according to my goodreads profile, I’ve never read a book I didn’t like. (This isn’t true, of course, I’ve read plenty of books I hated—one particularly stands out to me: it was basically this retelling of Dick Whittington and his cat, interspersed with random bits about a boy who couldn’t read. I can’t remember the title, but I think it won a Newberry. Ten year old me was less than impressed.) (Ooh, found it. Thanks, Google.)

Thinking it over, it’s true—I haven’t rated any book less than 3 stars all year, even though there were a few I honestly didn’t like. The most recent of these was Emma, by Jane Austen. I really didn’t enjoy it at all, but after I finished it, I struggled to find merit so I could rate it more highly. It’s a Jane Austen novel—and I love Austen! But I didn’t love this. All the characters were annoying—but it had a good message! Sort of? I disliked it, but I couldn’t admit it to myself, so I marked it three stars and tried to explain all the good things about the book whenever I was asked instead of just admitting I didn’t like it.

All of this reminds me of this video I watched last night.

Carrie says something about not getting out of the book what the author put in. It really stuck with me, because why am I unable to say that I dislike a book? Is it because I know how hard the author worked and am desperate to find merit? Is it because it’s supposed to be a good book?

I realized that just because I dislike a book doesn’t mean it’s not good or that the author isn’t a good writer. Literature is so subjective, and what does my opinion matter to anyone? And generally I dislike books not because of the writing, but just because that particular book didn’t speak to me. (Though sometimes it’s because of the writing, let’s be honest.)

In the spirit of being honest, I’m not going to be afraid to say I dislike a book any more. I went through and gave two stars to the books of this year I didn’t like. I’m resetting my 50 Books Challenge page to prepare for next year (though forty is my 2014 goal), and I’m going to tell the truth of what I thought of a book. I’m going to allow myself to dislike books, knowing full well that I much more frequently fall desperately in love with them, so I shouldn’t worry anyway.

Are y’all doing a reading challenge next year? If so, what’s your goal? Let me know in the comments. 🙂

Best wishes,


9 comments on “I Am Allowed to Dislike Books

  1. livierachelle says:

    I am glad that I am not the only one who doesn’t adore the book, Emma. I am not sure I would say I dislike the book, but I certainly dislike Emma herself…and definitely cannot rave as everyone else seems to do about the book.

    I have quite the opposite problem from you on Goodreads; I have only a few books that I rated 5 stars because I am unsure what 5 stars should be (I occasionally will go and changes ratings as well). I think that Goodreads needs to offer 20 stars, so that I can rate books with obnoxiously tedious precision.

  2. I totally sympathize with not liking Emma. But you already knew that. 😉

  3. Kira Budge says:

    The Goodreads rating system drives me nuts, just so we’re clear on that. Anyway, be brave, my friend! Rate them books.

  4. autorediessere says:

    I enjoyed Emma more than I enjoy most Jane Austen books (though I don’t really think “enjoy” is the quite right word for it). I just reached my 50 book goal for 2013, though a few of them were re-reads. Aiming for 50 again next year, hopefully not counting re-reads.

    Also, I noticed from your list how many of the same books you and I read this year. Actually it was a little bit freaky, to be honest.

    – Autore

    • Hero says:

      My blog is actually the twilight zone, fun fact… And I admire you, I’m only just going to make forty, counting plays, encyclicals, and books I had to read for school. Oh, really? I’m going to have to creep on your goodreads (assuming you have one) and see for myself…

  5. autorediessere says:

    And me and Kira officially replied at almost the same exact time, which is also mildly freaky.

    Weird things happen on your blog…


  6. autorediessere says:

    Especially that smiley. That smiley is especially weird.

    I need to go to sleep. Sorry for flooding your comment area.

    Over and out,

  7. […] In all honesty, I did not enjoy this book. I had to read it for school and it reminded me excessively of Emma in so many respects, but almost worse in that its plot was dull for a good 70% of the book and every character was unbearable and unlikeable and impossible to empathize with. I just wanted to be done. At the same time, I can see the merits of the book, and the discussion that followed it was interesting. I rated it two stars, allowing myself to dislike it. […]

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