I have to say, one of the hardest things for me about having many friends who are also writers is that there are writers who I dearly love on a personal level, but whose books, for whatever reason, just don’t work for me. I actually live in a kind of perpetual dread of the release of my dearest writer friends’ books, because I want to love them, but sometimes, I don’t, and then I feel stuck. Can I tell you, my dear friend, that I didn’t like your book and STILL be your friend? Should I lie and say I loved it? Hedge? Or just say nothing at all?
Now, I have to say that if one of my friends (writer or not) told me she didn’t care for one (or even all) of my books, I would not hate her. I would not cut her off and refuse to speak to her ever again. I would still consider her a friend and be happy that she felt she could be honest with me, because I value honesty above empty flattery. And I actually believe, in my heart of hearts, that most of my writer friends feel the same way.
Still, it’s tricky, and one of the reasons I don’t review books and rarely ever really enthuse about a book online. I will do it in certain cases (Jeannie Lin’s Butterfly Swords is a recent example of a book I’m raving about, but although I’ve met Jeannie and consider her a friends, I didn’t know her before I heard about the book, so I feel a little more sanguine going ape over it), but by and large, I don’t talk a lot about the books I’ve read–whether I liked them or not–because I don’t want anyone to feel criticized by omission.
It’s a sort of crazy world I live in, then. Am I a lunatic? Too worried about the fragile feelings of others? Or just being prudent?1 I honestly can’t decide.
1I strongly suspect that posting this is not prudent, but I’m doing it anyway :).