“Meh” books: Hard to review, impossible to recommend?

You know those books you can’t figure out how to rate? The ones that aren’t bad, but didn’t make you fall in love with them either? I call them “meh” books. I have the hardest time with these books because it takes a while for me to figure out how I feel about them.

I haven’t done a discussion post in such a long time and this has been something that I keep thinking about, so I thought it would be perfect for that! So today, I’ll talk about what are “meh” books for me, why reviewing them is so hard, and if we should recommend them or not.

HOW I RECOGNIZE “MEH” BOOKS

  • They are usually 3-star books.
  • They tend to be forgettable. A few weeks go by and I don’t remember important parts of the plot anymore.
  • I also forget some of the characters’ names or plot points every few pages and have to go back and re-read some parts.
  • They have at least one thing going for them, but not enough for me to be completely enthusiastic about them. This could be a cool character, interesting world-building, creative concept, or an entertaining plot.
  • They had a lot of potential, but it wasn’t fully realized.

REVIEWING THEM

Once I realize how “meh” a book was for me, I dread reviewing it. Sometimes I don’t review them, sometimes I do… and boy, oh, boy, is it task. It usually takes me days to complete a coherent review.

Gushing or ranting about books is so much easier. I know exactly why I loved a book or why I hated it, so I can quickly outline a review and then I just keep adding information until it’s complete. But when a book is in the middle ground, I don’t even know where to start!

I tend to have a hard time pinpointing where the book fell flat for me and, most of the time, the thing that was good in the book is not enough for me to praise it long enough to call it a review (though this is because of my reviewing style). For those reasons, when I review this sort of book, I have like two lines of text and don’t know what else to add.

I get really frustrated because I want to explain why I didn’t love (or hate) the book, but truth be told, sometimes I don’t even know. Maybe the characters didn’t particularly click with me at that point in my life. Or I had recently read a book with a similar plot or concept, so this one didn’t impress me much. No matter the reason, I never know how to go about explaining it.

Of course, in the end I publish a review that I feel okay with, but getting there is hard! Does this happen to you?

IMPOSSIBLE TO RECOMMEND THEM?

You might think, “If a book was so “meh” for you, why would you even consider recommending it?”. Well, some of these books are leaning more towards disliking them, while others towards really liking them. Most of the times, the latter are the ones that I consider for recommendations, but it really depends on why I’m recommending a book.

If someone asks for a specific recommendation and I know they like a certain theme or type of character, I don’t mind recommending a book that fell flat for me. They might enjoy it or even love it because obviously we all like different things. Of course, if I’m going to tell someone to read a book, first I’m going to point at one I truly love. If I don’t have a book I adore that fits what they are looking for, I go for one of the “meh” books.

So many books I’ve read fall in the “meh” category. Reviewing them is always tough and sometimes I doubt recommending them, but in the end, I can’t ignore them. They shape my reading experience as much as the books I love and the ones I hate. Even if they fell short for me, I know they might not for someone else. That’s why I put an effort in reviewing them and why I take them into consideration when I recommend books to others.

What about you? Do you only recommend books that you love? I’d love to read what you think about this topic!

Advertisements

47 thoughts on ““Meh” books: Hard to review, impossible to recommend?

  1. I usually recommend “meh” books to people if I know they would really enjoy certain aspects of a book. Everyone has such different reading tastes that I always hesitate to knock off a book completely just because there were a few details that annoyed me or were some plot points that I didn’t care for. Still, it’s a tricky topic!
    Great post! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It happens to me most of the time. That’s why I’m not posting reviews for now as I have lots of unfinished reviews for other books. Books I’ve rated as 3 arrows are books that I also don’t hate and love. They are good but it just don’t make me love it as the other books. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Yeah and I’m trying my best to give good and fair review on them. It just that I can’t get any words to use for them from my mind right now. Good luck on finishing yours! 🙂 That’s one of the hard time for us, having nothing to say on the book that we’ve rated as 3 stars. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I recently read a “meh” book this year, and of course I knew the author from a past life. She of course asked me what I thought of the book, it was difficult to confront her, I think the only thing worse than having a book that someone felt a fiery hatred for, is to have a book that a reader felt nothing at all.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I recommend any books that I give three stars and above that tends to include the meh books. Your right that everyone has different reading tastes that’s why recommending books can sometimes be tricky. Sometimes you don’t know the person well enough to know what they like in those cases I tend to only recommend books I loved. Really as long as the book isn’t offensive or something I’ll recommend it I recommend a two star book to someone I knew loved dystopians.

    Like

    1. If I don’t know the person well enough, I might still recommend “meh” books, but I tend to put a disclaimer haha. I say that it isn’t one of my favorite books, but that it has something that I think they might like. Same here with lower rated books. It depends on what the person is looking for and why I didn’t like a book.

      Like

  5. For the most part- I only recommend books that I loved. But, there are some genres I know I am a little biased against,fantasy based ya for example, so if it was a meh book for me, it would probably be a little higher for a reader who enjoys that genre.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a good point! It happened to me with dystopian novels. I had read so many, that none impressed me any longer. I became a harsher critic for them, but I knew that they would be more enjoyable to someone who hadn’t read that many books in that particular genre.

      Like

  6. Great discussion! This definitely happens to me, and a lot of the time, I don’t even bother to review them. If I don’t have anything I want to say, then I just won’t say anything, lol. As far as recommending, you’re definitely right to point out that people have different tastes, so they might love the “meh” ones, haha. And I love that you brought up that they shape your reading experience – so true!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I’m glad you relate 😀 Sometimes I’m about to give up on the review, but then I know I’ll regret it later on because I’ll forget all about the book and won’t remember what I liked/disliked about it. And because maybe someone else might actually be interested in it, so just in case… 😛
      Yes! That’s actually very important to me 🙂 A lot of my “read” books are this type, so my reading experience is very much formed by them.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I don’t seem to have a lot of trouble writing meh reviews; it’s the wonderful books I have a hard time with! Goofy, but I usually have a hard time thinking of something to say besides ‘wow!’ Anyway, I have certainly recommended meh books to other people who may well love them. We all like different things. A few months ago I read a book that has collected a ton of gushing reviews, but it was meh all the way for me; I felt like the author was so busy being poetic and wordsmithy that he was getting in the way of my enjoyment of his material!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s so interesting! I completely understand what you are saying. It’s not goofy at all! Sometimes I find myself repeating “I loved this, I enjoyed that” so much, I want to delete the whole review and look for synonyms haha.
      Ohh, that’s a shame. It has happened to me, too with some hyped books 😦

      Like

  8. I don’t rec meh books because I never remember the plots well enough! 😂 I don’t count all 3-star reads as “meh”, though – to me, “meh” implies that a book is just dull, unremarkable, and has no distinguishing features. To me, there’s a difference between “books I liked OK” and “books that were meh”. To give an example, I recently read The Lubetkin Legacy by Marina Lewycka. It was fun and memorable, but it felt fairly ephemeral – the chocolate bar of books! I couldn’t in all faith say it was a 4/5 star-book, though possibly I’m a harsher reviewer in that respect as only my all-time favourites tend to get 5 stars. But it wasn’t a meh book, and I would recommend it to someone if they wanted, say, London-set social satire or earnest discussions of Berthold Lubetkin.

    I don’t review meh books, again because the plot and any distinguishing features slip through my memory. I’m very glad I don’t review every book I read for this reason!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh definitely. Many of my 3-star-rated books aren’t “meh” books at all, but they sort of failed to me in other ways. I think there’s a fine line between “OK” and “meh” haha. That’s why some 3-star books are better than others. Half stars would come in handy in those cases, but I don’t use them because I would spend more time trying to think of how to rate a book 😛
      I like to review every book I read because I want to remember what I thought about them all. Of course, this only started when I began blogging, but sometimes there’s really nothing to say! I hope I don’t find myself with many books of that sort in the future then haha.
      Oh, and I totally understand what you mean with the rating of The Lubetkin Legacy. I did a whole discussion on rating and I think we’re both “critical” raters, instead of “emotional” ones 😛

      Like

  9. Interesting discussion! 🙂 I have to say, I have a hard time reviewing “meh” books, but more than often I feel like this is a book that others would enjoy, and that I’m just having a case of “it’s not you, it’s me”. I’m a bit afraid of NOT talking about books I found average, because I’m thinking that some people could really enjoy it, and it makes me feel, guilty? For not talking about it. If that makes any sense? But if I really can’t write the review, because I can’t pinpoint exactly what bothered me, I will just pass on writing a full review and write a little something on Goodreads, for the sake of it 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you ❤
      That's such a good idea. Like a mini-review sort of thing. I hadn't thought of doing that with "meh" books! I totally understand the guilty thing. You said it perfectly, I also feel like "it's not you, it's me" so I want to make it up to the book (and its author) by reviewing it or even recommending it lol. The things that books make us feel 😂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I know exactly how you feel Esther, meh books are the worst. I dread rating and reviewing them because like you said it’s much easier to rave or rant about a book then to explain how it was in between those. I usually wouldn’t go out of my way to recommend a meh book unless someone was looking for something specific that the book had, you never know someone might like what I didn’t. Great discussion post! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Me too! I tend to recommend them when someone asks for something specific, or else I’d go with a book I love 🙂 I’m glad you and so many others relate to this! I’m always afraid of being the only one that has this sort of issue haha. Thank you for participating in the discussion ❤

      Like

  11. You’re right, those “meh” books are the hardest to review. If I liked the book, I will shout everywhere about it. If I didn’t like it, I will try my hardest to have good arguments why I didn’t like it. But…. when the book is somewhere in between, I can’t help but feel that my review for “meh” book will also be one of “meh” quality. I’m still trying to figure out how to write a decent review for those kind of books.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I totally get you!!! I find it so hard to review those kinds of books. If my “meh” response is more something that I think only bothers me I’ll still try and review/rec and be like “it wasn’t for me, but it might be for you’ but it’s definitely hard when there’s a ton of factors as to what makes it not that great. There’s actually so many books I haven’t reviewed because I just haven’t known what to say? Even ones that I’ve enjoyed haha.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you relate! ❤ Reviewing is so hard. I feel so accomplished when I finally finish writing a review though. And I love to have them so I can check them after a while and remember what I thought about a book. But between "meh" books and my lack of creativity when writing, reviewing takes time and effort for sure 😛

      Liked by 1 person

  13. It’s always so sad when I recommend a book I’m in love with to someone and when I ask about it, they say it was “meh”! It was a missed opportunity to fan girl with someone! 😭😂
    By the way, LOOVE this post! I’m new to discovering your blog. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I feel this post in my soul. I love writing long reviews/critiques, but if a book was just meh, I can’t help but fear that a long-form critique of it will also be just meh. How do you write a remarkable critique of a totally unremarkable book, you know? The prospect fills me with dread. It’s great to see that so many other people share that dread, at least! 😁

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, I’m so glad you relate! Yes, it’s always encouraging to see that others struggle with it, too, because it shows the task is tough and it’s not that we cannot do it! I guess we overthink it sometimes, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it shows we care about our reviews 😛

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Good discussion of this topic. One of my goals this year was to read fewer ‘meh’ books, but there are so many out there, and it can be hard to know if a book is just meh until you’ve gotten to the end. I try my best to still review/document my thoughts on these books, even if it’s difficult like you’ve described. I try to say things like “I don’t like this aspect of the book, but another reader might” so maybe someone will get something positive out of my review. So basically, I agree with everything in your concluding paragraph 😛

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a tough goal you set up for yourself! It’s really impossible to know which books are going to end up falling flat for us, sadly. Some reviews save us from that, but others we have to find our for ourselves. I’m glad you relate 🙂 I see we strive for that same positive note so other readers know if the books are for them or not. I think that’s a fair way to review the “meh” books 😛

      Like

  16. I label my three-star books “Meh” as well! I agree with you on giving recommendations. Usually, a “meh” book for me is really a good book, but just not the book for me, so another person might give them five stars 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

Let's talk!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s