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What do you think of a “bad” book review?

I’m not talking about a reviewer who brings up a couple of negative things here or there. I’m talking about a reviewer who seems absolutely merciless. The review that from beginning to end never lets up on the brutality, where the author is put through the ringer over and over again.

I read a particularly tough review in the New York Times on April 17. It was a review of a nonfiction book and I had read a previous review in the Minneapolis StarTribune that made the book sound intriguing. But I finished the NYTimes review and thought I had never read anything quite like it. I went to Twitter to see what others were saying, and I wasn’t alone.

I think a review this negative actually creates more sympathy for the author. No one wants to see an author on the receiving end of such comments, especially a first-time author.

I know some book review editors will choose to not run such completely negative reviews, instead opting to save space for reviews that will encourage people to buy books.

I don’t mind the NYTimes’ decision to run this review, because I think that most readers will see through it — that it was a review more to showcase the reviewer than the book. I mean, when you name-drop V.S. Naipaul…

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