“Good” Books and Bad Reviews


I sense the shadow of a disembodied force that could cause anguish in my soul, lurking behind me.

I know someday a negative review of Beards will get me. The paranoia I have regarding this day is fairly reasonable. But, as I overanalyzed this fear the other day, I started to pontificate, what is a “good” book?


My rant about The Great Gatsby

As I’ve mentioned in past blogs, I’m a scientist. I have never taken a course in literature and all of my required fiction reading came from before I attended college. I read them all because I had to, not because I wanted to. A few, like The Scarlet Letter, held my attention, but then there were others, like The Great Gatsby.

I hate The Great Gatsby.

You may be thinking, “You were young when you read it. Perhaps as an adult, you’d have a different opinion?” I thought the same thing; therefore, I reread the novel before I saw the movie that was released in 2013. I’m here to report that the best thing to come out of either of those experiences was that I understand the meme of Leo DiCaprio holding the glass of champagne much more. I should note that I appreciate the fact that F. Scott Fitzgerald writes incredibly well, but the story isn’t interesting to me and I HATE the characters.

What can I say? I like character-driven stories. An author can illustrate the floorboards of a Victorian home with poetic details or describe a storm to the point where I feel the slap of rain against my face, but if I don’t enjoy the people living in the house or experiencing the weather, then my interest has not been won. This led me to my next idea…


I wonder what kind of poor reviews “good” books have received?

The following three examples are 1/5 star reviews I obtained off of Amazon. See if you can guess the book…Go ahead. It’ll be fun. (Answer key is afterward)

  1. “This novel does not compare to her other works. Plot is thin. Pace is laborious. Total lack of suspense. Love scenes poorly described. Ending not satisfying.”
  2. “Story rambled on for ever, with names of characters you can't pronounce or remember. Was not interesting at all to me.”
  3. “I thought it would never end. I honestly wished I would have stopped reading this book, but I figured since it won the Pulitzer that was destined to get better. Overall, I found the story very depressing and sad. I won't ruin the ending for those interested in reading other than to say, it got much too philosophical for me. I simply didn't enjoy the story enough to appreciate the pages and pages about the meaning of life.”


Answer Key:

  1. The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith
  2. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  3. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt


Moral of the story to stories

I researched reviews of those three novels because they were specifically named when I asked Twitter what “good” books the Tweeters didn’t like. Also, on the list of unlikeable best-sellers/classic literature included: The Turn of the Screw, The Time Traveler’s Wife, A Song of Fire and Ice, Wuthering Heights, Great Expectations, Moby Dick, and try not to fall out of your chair…the Harry Potter series. That’s right! Points are not going to Gryffindor.

To conclude, I should acknowledge that I know my style of writing isn’t for everyone and I’m new to the scene so have A LOT to learn about the craft. However, if J.K. Rowling, George R.R. Martin, and other authors with initials in their names can survive a one-star review. Then so can Serena J. Bishop.