Is It Important to Read Criticism About a Book?

This is a question that I’m thinking to myself as I’m reading what others have to say about American Dirt. Many book reviewers are choosing to silence the criticism and read the book, and conclude their own thoughts.

As readers, we turn to book reviews to consider whether or not to read a book. If there’s a negative review, depending on the book and the reviewer, we turn away and choose to read a different book. If there’s a positive review, we choose to add that book to our to-be-read list. 

But what if it’s a book that has too many negative reviews, but we still want to read it? Do we listen to our gut, and waste our time to read that book? 

Ofcourse, that depends on the book, but let’s talk about American Dirt. If you haven’t read my book review, I mentioned that I disliked the book because it relies heavily on Mexican stereotypes. Knowing on what you know, will you consider the criticism? Or will you neglect the criticism, read the book, and praise the book because you loved the story?

I’m asking because a fellow book reviewer captioned her review on American Dirt and said, “Knowing that American Dirt caused heated controversy, I decided NOT to read any articles about the book before completing it. I am glad I did! As a purely fictional work, I was engrossed. Strength, power and solidarity!”

Call me rude if you’d like to, but that is just being ignorant. There’s a reason why American Dirt is getting heavy criticism and as a book reviewer, you’re not considering it? 

The larger question here is, should criticism surrounding a book effect our review? 

I believe as a book reviewer it, yes. Not that being a book reviewer is a big responsibility, but it’s our job as a book review to present others with all of the facts. Choosing not to address the controversy, is to say that you are being ignorant to others thoughts and feelings. 

Book reviews help potential readers become familiar with what a book is about, give them an idea of how they themselves might react to it and determine whether this particular book will be the right book for them right now.

My queen Flannery O’Connor has a quote that I live by and she says, “The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” The truth is the truth, and the way in which we react to it does not change the truth. When we review books or recommend books, I believe it’s important consider the criticism rather than become ignorant to it. 

In an article titled, “When Should We Ignore Criticism?” Tanner Christensen says, “Of course criticism is important: it can expose us to perspectives we weren’t aware of, uncover flaws in our work, and help us identify areas for learning and growing. Criticism can be generative and help us create a more complete picture of whatever it is we’re trying to do.”

When it to comes to choosing whether or not to read a book, we should use criticism as a tool.

I for one, do tend to ignore criticism when it comes to certain books because sometimes, they could be far fetched.

I read American Dirt considering the criticism, because I wanted to read in the way our stories being told in the eyes of those who aren’t in the Latinx community.

I’m just hoping, at the end of the day, books like American Dirt, connects us rather than divert us away from one another.

What do you think? Do you believe criticism really matters?  Comment what you think down below!


2 thoughts on “Is It Important to Read Criticism About a Book?

  1. I think it’s important to read the criticism (good and bad) before reading a book so that you have an idea about what you’re going into 🤷‍♀️🤗💛


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