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Books and Literature Use this forum to discuss books, plays, poetry, authors and more from around the world.

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Problematic books or problematic authors - October 22nd 2017, 04:03 AM

This is a topic that seems to come up a lot in the online book community especially with the YA community.

So, there are a lot of reviewers who call out authors on their content being problematic and by problematic I mean that people say the author has themes of ableism, homophobia, racism, transphobia etc.

There are a lot of reviewers who will go as far as to say ... you shouldn't read the book and support the author (which I get)...and there are users who will outright not read the book based on the review.

There have also been times when people would rate and review a book (1 star) based on a review that essentially said the book was problematic.

My question is, if you are made aware that a book is problematic will you choose not to read it or do you like to make your own inferences?

I tend to like to make my own opinions because, with reading, a lot of things are really subjective. For example, I recently suggested a mental health book and someone else said that it had bad representation. I pointed out that I went through a lot of the things the main character went through and I actually found the representation to be good but things like that are highly subjective.

I suppose, for me, I hardly ever take reviews into account. I do definitely look at reviews but there are a lot of times I won't look at reviews unless I am struggling with the book. I do this to see if I can find someone that had the same issues.

Anyway, I have heard some people get upset if people say 'I understand you felt this was problematic but I still want to read it to make my own judgement'.

I am curious how others feel on the topic.

Also, not really sure if this should be in current events in debates since it could technically lead to a debate? If a mod feels it belongs there they can move it.

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Re: Problematic books or problematic authors - October 22nd 2017, 10:34 AM

I don't usually bother with reviews, and that kind of thing might bother me, but it depends. If it's an older book, or historical, I'm less bothered than if it's recent. For example, I like Christian author Melody Carlson, but was bothered by two of her books that are clearly anti-gay, and suicide-shaming.

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Re: Problematic books or problematic authors - October 22nd 2017, 12:55 PM

The Witcher is a series that frequently dabbles in racism, homophobia, sexism and all kind of crap.

But that's the point of it - those are the issues it shows, and part of it's charm is how the characters fight against those or deal with them. You know, aside from all the monster fighting and sharp-tongue humour it has.

I don't mind controversial themes.

It obviously depends on how the author writes about said issues.

One thing I'm cautious about is abuse being a theme. If done well and if it's given proper respect, even the most uncomfortable scene can end up being the best in the work.

Done badly it only pisses people off.

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Re: Problematic books or problematic authors - October 23rd 2017, 08:34 PM

Everyone has their tastes. It's like someone who dislikes kit-kat bars but likes coffee crisp. Not everyone will like something, doesn't mean everyone should.

My reading tastes have changed. I have found I am more picky for some reason. It doesn't mean that I disagree with a book based on the theme or genre.

If the book has a poorly written about this book (I mean, if it sounds boring, I put it back) because if it's not catching for me, it's not something I would like to read. I don't make judgements based on the storyline. If the book doesn't grab my attention I can't bring myself to reading it. It has nothing to do with what it is about. In fact I read a boring about the book, but the book was really good.

Some genres I don't read because they aren't my interest or I might disagree with it (making this up, if someone believed frogs wear hats and can do magic tricks) I tend to not read it because I am not interested or it is not me. Some may feel frogs wearing hats and can do magic tricks to be true and others would feel it's problematic.

Not everyone will agree or disagree about something.

Really, it comes down to what the author would like to write about, it's their choice, not anyone elses.

I guess I view this as, I choose what I read, it's not based on what it's about. I've picked up books and it sounded good but the author never made that feel of the book grabbing me because I need something that at every chapter I want to continue to read more. That my mind is always asking questions and wondering what would be next.

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Re: Problematic books or problematic authors - October 27th 2017, 02:31 PM

I usually don't look at reviews and stuff. If someone recommends a book, sure I will take a look at it but generaly I only read what seems interesting to me. No matter what people say about it.
Though sometimes if a book gets a lot of attention (negativ or positive) I will read it, even if it does not seem as interesting. Simply because I wanna see, what all the talk is about. Thats why I read Twilight (which isn't half as bad a people make it out to be) and why I started reading 50 Shades (but stoped because I really didn't liek it).
But like, I know a lot of people who absolutely hate twilight and will talk alot of shit about it though none of them have actually read it. They simply heard about it and how its supposed to be bad.
Thats why I think you can't exactly trust reviews anyway. I know people who can talk for hours about all the things wrong in twlight and how certain behaviours are horrible and creepy. But they haven't read it and while I agree to some degree with them, there is a lot more in the book than that.
The same goes for all the things listed. Like if people say it's racist, homophobic or for some other reason problematic, you can't trust it. There might be some aspects in there. There probably are. But they might be in there for a reason, or the author simply is from a time where it was normal (which doesn't make it right but we are all slaves of our time and society). Also, sometimes a thing taken out of context can seem really different. So the quotes people use to proof their point might actually not proofe anything if the context is considered.
Thats why I would never let anyone talk me out of reading a book I want to read. I actually might even read a book I didn't want to read, just to see what all that ruckus is about.

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Re: Problematic books or problematic authors - October 28th 2017, 04:19 AM

I agree with a lot of this. I find that a lot of people within the book community are reading reviews instead of forming their own opinions. This is something I've struggled with because I've always learned that you should read and research and make your own inferences
However, it seems like less people feel the need to do this and, instead get quite upset if someone says 'I respect your review and I'll keep it in mind but i want to make my own conclusion'. I suppose I struggle with this given how I grew up and was taught.

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