I generally make it a rule not to rate or review books written by my author friends (unless I’m blurbing a book). I find that I’m too emotionally attached to the works to give an honest assessment. (Note: Amazon has made it a policy not to allow authors to review other authors, because they are deemed to be in direct competition with each other.)

However, I DO rate books on Goodreads written by authors I don’t know — you know, the dead ones, the famous ones, the ones who are far too busy raking in the dough to notice my little ol’ estimation of their work. Without that emotional attachment to the author or book, I feel like I can just write what I think, which (I hope) is helpful to others who look to a book’s reviews in deciding whether or not to read it. And that system is just fine and dandy when I like a book — slapping a five-star rating onto a book is joyous and fun. All is right with the world. However, when it comes time to give a one-star rating or a poor review, I find myself getting anxious, like I did with today’s review for Dan Brown’s INFERNO:

Inferno (Robert Langdon, #4)1 of 5 stars This is the first audiobook I’ve listened to, so — to be fair — quite possibly it was the nature of “listening” to a book that wasn’t for me. However, I threw in the towel after about 4 and a half hours of listening. So disappointed. I absolutely loved THE DA VINCI CODE and really liked ANGELS & DEMONS. I had started THE LOST SYMBOL when it came out, but didn’t get far into it, because I found it to be more of the same, and I guess that’s how I feel about this book. Unfortunately, it was just taking too long for things to get going. What a bummer.

I feel incredibly ambivalent about this review — any bad review, for that matter. Sure, I didn’t like the book, but I keep thinking about that old adage: “If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Particularly because I KNOW how hard it is to write a book. (It’s crazy hard.) And I KNOW how hard it is to receive a poor review. (It’s crazy harder.)

Some of my author-friends don’t review books at all, but I’m not sure that I want to go cold turkey. And I know of one author-friend who only reviews books that she loved, so her Goodreads profile consists of only five-star reviews. I can see why she does this, but, as a reader, I would want to express ALL of my opinions, good and bad. After all, there’s really nothing wrong with a bad review, right? All it means is that particular book did not connect with that particular reader. And as long as that review doesn’t consist of a bunch of name-calling or nastiness, there’s something of value to be learned in why there was no connection, isn’t there? But if that’s true, then why do I feel so crummy?

Authors, do you have a policy on reviewing books?