Is it a bad thing when no one likes the book?

At a recent book discussion, it became very clear that no one present liked the book.  (I did have two no-shows who emailed me to say they enjoyed it… but that didn’t help at discussion time!)

I wasn’t too bothered by this, even though the book was my choice.  After all, no one was attacking me personally for picking it, and they genuinely wanted to know why I liked it.  I was not surprised, because I had done the book several times before with different groups, and some people didn’t care for it.  To me, that can make for a great discussion, because there is something there for people to talk about – from the plot to the characters to the writing style, people are often more passionate when they don’t like something than when they do!  After all, it’s a pretty boring discussion when everyone just says, “ooh, I liked this”… and that’s all.

However, I did feel a little sorry about it, worrying that people might have thought they wasted their time reading something they didn’t enjoy.  Readers, do you have any experiences with your group hating the book you’ve chosen?



About the Author:

Rebecca Vnuk is the editor for Collection Management and Library Outreach at Booklist. She is also the author of 3 reader’s-advisory nonfiction books: Read On…Women’s Fiction (2009), Women’s Fiction: A Guide to Popular Reading Interests (2014), and Women’s Fiction Authors: A Research Guide (2009). Follow her on Twitter at @Booklist_RVnuk.

4 Comments on "Is it a bad thing when no one likes the book?"

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  1.' Susan in Las Vegas says:

    Ah, the infamous “Following Hadrian” discussion. It was a book that had a great review – and we all hated. We discussed why we hated it. We discussed how it could have been better. We discussed what the reviewer might have been smoking. It was a lively discussion all around.

    And, it’s given us a lot of discussion fodder in the years since, and they still mock me (kindly, with laughter) for that choice. It’s become a point of reference. “As bad as Hadrian?”

    I’ve never regretted selecting Hadrian.

  2.' Becky says:

    In preparation for everyone either all liking or all hating a book, I always go on Amazon before the discussion and print off the 5 star and 1 star reviews. This way, I am ready with counter opinions if everyone feels the same way about a book.

    For the record, everyone hating a book is much better for a discussion than if everyone likes it.

  3.' Kerrie says:

    It’s not a bad thing if people hate the book – it helps them define what they do like. I try to get people to say what they hated about it – doesn’t help if it was a DNF though. Getting them to see why some reviews have been good and what people might have liked about it is a good ploy too. No – you haven’t wasted their time!

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