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Which Is Harder: Warning a Reader Off or Making a Recommendation?

Which Is Harder: Warning a Reader Off or Making a Recommendation?

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For me, it is harder to make a recommendation than to warn a reader off.  The reason is because if I make a recommendation and the person acts on that recommendation, I know she has spent time and money based on something I said.  Whenever I give a recommendation, I am thinking that this book is worth it to me and I hope it is worth it to you. I know that everything that I like isn’t going to appeal to everyone else. (cough * Caris Roane * cough).

When I’m asked directly for a recommendation, I always try to find out what the reader likes. What tropes does she like? What tropes does she want to stay away from?  Does she like agnst? Humor? Dialogue?

I’m particularly careful in making recommendations for trade paperback books, hardcovers, and hard to find books.  In fact, I’ve discouraged reviewers at Dear Author from reviewing books that are out of print unless they can be easily purchased for a reasonable price.  My reasoning has been that I don’t want foster excitement about a book that is really expensive or hard to find.

It’s become even more challenging in recommending books when I get them for free. It’s easy to recommend three trade paperbacks in one month when I haven’t paid a penny for them.  To be fair to each book, however, I’ve tried to view each one isolation, asking myself whether I would recommend this book on its merits regardless of price.

However, you often hear readers say to other readers that it’s a good book but not worth the hardcover prices.  I actually wrote that to a friend the other day about a hardcover I had read.

It’s easier to tell a reader that you didn’t enjoy a book because you aren’t asking her to expend resources (either time or money).  The biggest risk in telling a reader that book A isn’t something that she is likely going to enjoy is that she might miss out on a book she would enjoy. And that happens.  But for the person giving the recommendation or suggesting a pass, its an easier risk to take.

What do you think?  Is it easier for you to tell a reader friend to buy a book or to pass?


Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Edie
    Aug 16, 2011 @ 04:20:31

    I have rather odd tastes, and sometimes it is just a couple of small (odd) things that make me really enjoy a book.
    So I am often quite hesitant to recommend a book, unless I know the tastes of the person.

  2. Kaetrin
    Aug 16, 2011 @ 04:30:16

    I don’t know, I think they’re both hard! :)

  3. Joely Sue Burkhart
    Aug 16, 2011 @ 06:48:24

    Years ago, I was asked to recommend some favorite fantasy trilogies. Immediately, I said Guy Gavriel Kay’s tapestry trilogy. My friend bought the first and loved it, but when she went to get the second book, it was out of print. I thought she was going to KILL me. She ended up paying a ridiculous amount to buy a second hand copy and have it shipped to her.

    (On the bright side, she loved the series, though!)

  4. kate r
    Aug 16, 2011 @ 06:56:46

    I feel attached to the books I recommend so I’m uncomfortable when someone hates a book I’ve shoved in their direction. Not horribly uncomfortable or insulted anymore. Thank goodness that sort of defensiveness goes away with practice.

  5. Danielle D
    Aug 16, 2011 @ 07:42:47

    I have recommended books in the past to the other readers only to have them come back and say that they didn’t care for any of the books I recommended. I have to admit that my feelings were hurt because these were my favorite authors. In the past I have wanted to tell a reader that a book did not work for me or did not get good reviews and again someone would love the book.

    This is really a tough question, because when reading a book what works for you may not work for me or what bothers you may not bother me.

  6. Darlene Marshall
    Aug 16, 2011 @ 07:51:24

    This is a toughie. The flip side though is when you make a recommendation and someone comes back to you and says, “I loved Lymond Chronicles (or Shards of Honor or A Brother’s Price)! Thank you so much for recommending them!”

    That always gives me a special glow.

  7. Avery Flynn
    Aug 16, 2011 @ 07:56:34

    I love making a recommendation, but I do so infrequently and usually only with the books that I love so much I’d talk about them forever if people didn’t start giving me the side-eye.

  8. Klio
    Aug 16, 2011 @ 08:07:40

    When recommending friend to friend, I try not to oversell, even if it’s something I think is the best book in ever and ever. I don’t want to raise expectations so much that a book becomes a disappointment. If I’ve lent someone my physical copy, I really try not to ask for a long while if they’ve gotten around to reading it. Unfortunately, that means I never see a lot of books again. As if I should worry about there being one less book in this house :P On the other hand, I feel contractually obligated by friendship to warn people way the heck away from a truly terrible waste-of-hours-of-my-life experience.

    I like it when someone knows enough about my tastes to warn me off something, but, now that this post makes me think about it, almost all my friends are far more likely to recommend something–unless it’s something involving Bad Things happening to puppies, or the movie Salo. But that’s different, that’s a friend saying, “you don’t want to see this, just trust me on that.” Sometimes I am stupid and look at it anyway. (Salo. Don’t do it. Trust me, I am your friend.)

    Back when I used to do reviews (movies), I did both recommending or scaring, as applied. That’s what I want from review blogs–not negative reviews just for the sake of trashing everything; but some books are going to be bad, and I want to know what and why. FWIW, I love that the format of this site is reader-to-author. And the rest of us get to “listen in.”

  9. Joy
    Aug 16, 2011 @ 08:36:58

    Making recommendations is easy for me because often the people who ask me for recommendations are usually not big readers. It’s fairly easy for me to gauge what an average reader would like. When I make recommendations to other voracious readers (which I do sometimes) I know they know the risks inherent in the reading process, but I usually understand their taste pretty well as I’ve read or heard a lot of their reviews/remarks. I can say things like “it was well-written and I liked it but if you don’t like unassertive heroines it may not be for you” and they’ll get it.

  10. Laura Florand
    Aug 16, 2011 @ 08:37:24

    I accidentally voted wrong, but it’s much easier to warn someone off. “Don’t read it. The wife with amnesia turns out to be the real wife’s unknown twin sister. Stop now!”

    It works both ways. I heed recommendations much more reluctantly than warnings. Recommendations for me are very often off.

  11. Joy
    Aug 16, 2011 @ 08:38:46

    In addition, I have to say I’ve been the recipient of more bum recommendations than I’ve given out. I don’t blame the person giving the recommendation. Tastes do vary, and I’m a big girl and can own my own book purchases and reading time. And I learn something from bum recommendations, like what I DON’T like, which is useful information.

  12. Jen X
    Aug 16, 2011 @ 08:39:56

    It’s definitely easier for me to tell a friend to avoid a book. I take my book recommendations seriously (LOL), I weigh my friend’s tastes, views and tolerance before I even dare to rec a book.

  13. Angela
    Aug 16, 2011 @ 08:44:16

    I think they’re both incredibly difficult. I tend not to do either unless I know someone really well, or I’ve taken the time to articulate what exactly drew me in, or made me hate it.

    But I do think that warning someone off is slightly easier, because you’re not asking anyone to waste time and effort.

    And if they’re anything like me – I’ve been warned off a few books – they may just try them anyway.

  14. Tamara Hogan
    Aug 16, 2011 @ 08:52:13

    I’ve found that it’s more of a challenge for me to warn a friend off a book or a series since I became a published author myself. While I’m still exploring why this is the case, at least some of it has to do with what I perceive as an unspoken cardinal rule: “Thou shalt not publicly diss another author’s book.”

  15. Linda S
    Aug 16, 2011 @ 08:52:13

    Part of my job as a librarian is making recommendations, and it comes with an understanding that people aren’t going to like everything you suggest. Of course, it also comes with the understanding that they can check it out from the library, so they’re not shelling out any money. I don’t think the cost or format should necessarily be considered if you find a book worth sharing. The reader can decide if they want to go the library route or cough up the money. I find it harder to warn off a book, even though I usually feel very strongly when I dislike a book.

  16. Kay
    Aug 16, 2011 @ 09:10:00

    I do think it’s harder to make a recommendation than to warn someone off. We seem to agree more easily on what doesn’t work (bad writing, plot holes you can drive a truck through, etc) than what does. Plus, if someone doesn’t like what you liked once, they are likely to not taking your recommendation again, no matter the value of the book.

    OTOH, my friends and I have a movie rating system which also works for books. We’ll say a movie is worth the evening price (hardcover), or it’s a matinee (trade), or you should rent it (paper), or watch for free when it comes on TV. (borrow from library or friend) And then there’s: “What were they thinking?”

  17. Sirius
    Aug 16, 2011 @ 09:12:29

    Definitely for me it is much harder to make a recommendation, for the very reason you stated – I am always a little bit worried that I will encourage reader to spend money on the book and they will not like it. I still do it of course and enjoy doing it when I write reviews, but worrying will probably always will be there. I just keep telling myself that I am not forcing anybody to spend money on the book, I am just sharing my excitement

    It is also very true what you said about hard to find and out of print books. I wrote a review of the book which is out of print and hard to find relatively recently, which I enjoyed very much and I suggested in my review to try finding the book in the used stores and libraries, because amazon sellers charge crazy prices, as they always do when the books are out of print. Couple of readers (or maybe more, I am just talking about those who commented) decided to spend the money anyway. I am telling you, I was so incredibly nervous, their decision or not that they will hate the book after spending a lot of money on it. Thank goodness one of them seemed to love the book and thought it was worth it and another one have not commented yet :).

    Having said that, it is often quite easy for me to make recommendations to my online buddies, simply because I know their tastes quite well. When I write a review, of course I do not know who will be reading it.

    But sure, warning reader off is much easier for me because even if they do not share my tastes, I am not asking them to spend the money. If they decide to go ahead and spend the money anyway, it has nothing to do with my suggestions at all and I am not worried.

  18. Cady
    Aug 16, 2011 @ 09:20:25

    I think for me it is warming off a book, as I keep thinking just because I didn’t like it, doesn’t mean you won’t. Only if I really know you, will I warn off.

  19. Chelsea
    Aug 16, 2011 @ 09:29:16

    I only recently started actively reviewing everything I read so the experience is pretty fresh in my mind. I’m actually going to say the hardest reviews are neutral reviews. It’s like trying to describe your breakfast cereal to someone. How much can you possibly say? Bland, sort of sweet…soggy and full of fiber?

    But to address the actual question, I find it easier to warn people off of things. Usually if I’m really hating a book I keep a running list of things that annoy me, and I just turn that into my review. With recommendations, it’s often impossible to articulate what the book did to rock my socks. I find myself using a lot of phrases such as “if you like this trope” or “if you don’t mind this type of character”. And sometimes I quote the book, if there is anything worth quoting. But I still never know whether I’ve said something that will really resonate to the potential reader, or if I’m steering them in the wrong direction.

  20. LG
    Aug 16, 2011 @ 09:47:07

    I guess I worry more about recommendations than warn offs, because, like you said, the person then commits money and/or time to something because of my recommendation. The worst that can happen (to the reader anyway) if I warn someone off something is that they might miss out on a book they might have loved, even if I hated it.

    That said, the final decision is up to the other person. No one’s telling them they have to read or not read a book based just on one person’s opinion. If they do, that’s their choice. In most cases, I’m guessing that, if someone sees something intriguing in a recommendation OR a warn off, they’ll do a little extra legwork to decide whether they’ll buy something or not (read other reviews, read a sample, get it from the library first and buy later if it turns out to be a keeper, etc.).

    Since I don’t know too many people personally who have the same tastes in reading I do, most of my recommendations/warn offs are via my blog. If it’s one-on-one, though, I always want to know what sorts of books the person likes before I recommend or rant about a book.

  21. Josie
    Aug 16, 2011 @ 09:50:21

    I recommend books to family and friends, but since we all frequent libraries rather than bookstores, price is not an issue.

  22. LG
    Aug 16, 2011 @ 09:58:15

    It also just occurred to me, that, although I worry more about recommendations than warn offs, when I’m talking one-on-one with someone I’m more likely to recommend something than warn someone off. I can’t think of the last time I warned an individual person off a book (as opposed to writing a negative review of a book). With friends and family whose tastes I know, I might recommend something that I enjoyed that I think might fit their tastes. When I was telling my mom to give AllRomance a try for e-book shopping, I tried to make the site look more enticing by recommending a few works available there I thought she might like (not sure if it worked, though).

    I’m a librarian, so recommendations are sometimes part of my job. If I’ve got my librarian hat on, I always recommend a small range of authors/works, with a few words about why the person might like it. I may or may not say whether I liked the books myself – that depends entirely on the person I’m talking to and the vibe I get from them.

  23. Karenmc
    Aug 16, 2011 @ 10:03:45

    I recommend sparingly, and only if I’ve asked questions about the person’s preferences. I’ve rarely warned someone off, because it might be something they would like.

  24. Renda
    Aug 16, 2011 @ 10:39:12

    Reading this made me realize I talk books very rarely. I give most all of my books to my mom who will read anything anytime and then she gives them to my sister. I will get the occasional “if you see something by X, pick it up” phone call but they never look through and ask for a specific request.

    I was able to get Attachments by Rainbow Rowell through Overdrive with the Free Library of Philadelphia (which I heartily recommend to every reader) and while I loved the book, I would hesitate to recommend it because of the price. I almost stopped after the first few pages because of the initial creepy stalker vibe, but that totally goes away and the book has an ending that was one of the most romantic I have read in a very long time. But those first couple of chapters could definitely turn someone off with stalker issues and with hard cover and expensive e version being the only choices, I wouldn’t recommend.

  25. Christine M.
    Aug 16, 2011 @ 10:44:29

    I used to work at a small, indie bookstore so you can be sure we recommended and recommended and recommended books. I didn’t rec anything and everything and most of the workers there liked different genres so we could send a customer to a colleague for more appropriate recs, but I had to risk suggesting something at least once a day. The thougher were kids who had to pick up a book every two months for school. Not only did we have to take word/page count into account, but also the likes and dislikes of the kids (especially those who weren’t much into reading).

    So, yeah, it’s tough.

  26. P. Kirby
    Aug 16, 2011 @ 10:57:01

    Perhaps because I am by nature a “ranty” person, it’s waaaay easier to warn a reader off, just as it much easier (fun?) to review a book I hate.

    As you note, I’m not recommending that the person spend resources (time, money) on the book. If they go out and read it and hate it…well, I warned them. If they read it and like it. No harm, no foul. Sure, I may think, “Are you nuts? That books sucked like a black hole.” But then I spot something shiny, wander off and forget all about it.

    There’s probably also a bit of ego and delicate “fee-fees” involved. If I love the book, I (admittedly stupidly) feel sort of hurt if the other person hates it. Like it’s my baby.

  27. Debra
    Aug 16, 2011 @ 11:09:03

    The sad thing is just because I loved a book doesn’t mean the next person is going to love it. I always try to find out what the person liked to read before I recommending a book. But then I always tell them just because I liked it doesn’t mean you will like it. I just hope you liked it as much as I did.

  28. Rhianna
    Aug 16, 2011 @ 11:27:21

    I guess I’m the minority. I find neither to be hard. As a reviewer and a reader who has definite opinions about my own tastes (knowing mine are usually the opposite of the majority) I’m not afraid of “selling” someone a book they won’t like. With that in mind I’ve managed to turn many people who’d never read PNR or UF fiction into fans with my suggestions.

    I think it’s essential to be able to say “I like A, B and C about this book/series but it has X, Y and Z that other readers didn’t care for” if you’re going to make a recommendation though. Ultimately it’s up to the person asking for the recommendation (or reading your review) to inform themselves beyond your opinion and decide if it’s worth their $$.

    Of course if I know the reader’s tastes well enough I’ll even recommend books I hated.

    I do feel guilty trying to turn someone away from a book though, even if I didn’t care for it. Why discourage someone from reading even if it’s a “bad” book? lol I can’t tell y’all how many books I’ve not cared for that others raved madly about. Sometimes you just have to reverse the ABC/XYZ thing and hope they hate it too so you can mutually gripe about it. ;)

  29. Las
    Aug 16, 2011 @ 11:45:14

    Definitely easier to warn a reader off. If a “bad” book is one of those truly awful ones that most would agree sucks, than that’s a no brainer. If it’s one that I really disliked but I can see how others might like it, I’d make that clear.

    Recommendations are trickier. I know I don’t like it when I buy a book that’s recommended and I end up hating it, so I don’t want to do that to someone else. And there’s a bit of, “What if she thinks I have the dumbest tastes in books ever?!” which is silly, but there you go. I absolutely do not expect reviewers to go by that though. It’s really not a big deal if I lose a few bucks to a lousy book. The only time it genuinely annoys me is when EVERYONE in Romanceland raves about a particular book that I think is garbage. *coughLordofScoundrelscough* But all that means is that I just have to figure out who’s tastes align best with mine and how to read between the lines of a review to figure out if a book might be worth my time and money.

    That said, I really don’t rely much on reviews to figure out what to read anymore. Unless it’s a book I’m already aware of but I’m unsure about, I don’t even bother reading full reviews (unless they’re of really bad books, because those reviews have the potential to be funny). I just get the gist of the plot and characters, whether the reviewers think it’s great/good/ok/bad, and decide from there. I like long reviews after I’ve read a book, because then it’s a discussion, which is much more interesting to me.

  30. Mary G
    Aug 16, 2011 @ 12:21:28

    Great question. When I rec a book I usually give a proviso – if you like … you’ll like this. I’ve met a lot of fellow readers through author chats so we pretty well trust each other with recs. I find it harder to warn someone off. It caould be a lost sale so I always say what bugged me & that it’s my issue but may not be theirs.

  31. Christine R
    Aug 16, 2011 @ 12:52:18

    For me recommending is so much easier if fact it so natural to me I don’t even think about it. I worked as a bookseller for 10 years and it was the best thing about my job helping people find books that they would love.I’ve been known to approach complete strangers and put a book in there hands. The important thing about recommending a book is you have to listen to what the person wants. Even if I didn’t like a books it didn’t mean I couldn’t sell it but then I could really sell a book I was excited about,

    As to warning people away that was always tricky because of losing sales–but sometimes I needed to warn someone about certain content in books. For example when Twilight came out tons of pre teens started reading vampire books not all of them as sexless as the twilight series. So if Mom came in with a 10 year old and picked something up with sexual content I would let her know what it was so they she could decide if appropriate, I also would show grandparents and parents about the ratings on manga-just because its a “cartoon” does not mean that it safe for all ages. Other than that I find many people love books that I loathe and vice versa,

  32. JL
    Aug 16, 2011 @ 13:04:02

    I think there needs to be a poll for which is worse: getting recommendations or giving them?

    Reading is almost a sacred thing to me. It’s my only form of escapism and my cure for raging insomnia. I protect my reading time obsessively. It’s almost anxiety-inducing to be bookless for a night, and even worse to be stuck with the ‘wrong’ book and nothing else to read.

    In grad school I had pseudo-book club with a group of girlfriends. We would circulate a book and then eventually discuss it over beers. Along the way I discovered genre fiction and never looked back. Half the group fell in love with it too (we went on a Charlaine Harris bender) but the others hated it and only wanted to read high brow literary fiction. The problem was that I couldn’t go back to reading introspective BS about men and their penises. We ended up having secret meetings to discuss our genre books, and coming up with excuses for why we hadn’t gotten around to reading the other’s recommendations. It was all very awkward and friendship-threatening.

    Now, I tend to go on reading gloms and only trust certain book bloggers’ reviews for my TBR list. I hate when people try to force books on me that they love when they don’t ‘get’ what I like to read, or that I might stuck on a romantic suspense or UF glom for the next couple months.

  33. Jeanette Grey
    Aug 16, 2011 @ 13:14:41

    It’s all about consequences. If I warn somebody away from a book and they take that advice, they’ll likely never find out later that it was wonderful and give me a hard time about my misjudgement of their tastes. If I convince them to read something and they don’t like it, I may never hear the end of it!

  34. Trysh
    Aug 16, 2011 @ 14:04:03

    I find it much easier to warn people off of books. If there’s a book I hated enough to want to warn someone away from it (those books that you literally get so fed up with that you throw them across the room), I’m happy to wave my arms and tell them to back away. There are, however, only a couple of people that I will recommend books to, and they are people whose tastes I know almost as well as my own and who have recommended books to me. Otherwise, I’m constantly afraid they’ll hate my choice.

  35. Sirius
    Aug 16, 2011 @ 14:09:44

    @Rhianna: I guess I never write the reviews with the purpose in mind of turning the reader off the book that is why I do not feel guilty in the slightest if the reader who may have similar tastes to me would not purchase the book which I disliked? I write negative review to explain why I disliked the book, and whatever reader does with this information is their business. Obviously same goes for positive review, but at the same time I feel that often enough “Recommended” at the end of positive review may carry more weight than “Not recommended” at the end of negative one, because with the reviewers I follow and whose tastes are similar to mine that “Recommended” carries more weight to me. But of course what it comes down to, I keep telling myself that I should not feel guilty with positive reviews either, because it is not as if I can force anybody to open their wallet and buy the book, but I am still nervous from time to time.

  36. LG
    Aug 16, 2011 @ 14:57:09

    @JL: I suppose it depends on how the recommendations are given. If it’s just “this was good, here’s what I liked about it,” I might try the book if it also sounds appealing to me personally. If the person keeps checking with me to see if I read it, if he or she forces the book on me, then I get a little annoyed.

    I once chatted with a person at my local public library who, when she learned I liked romance, assumed I liked the same sorts of tropes and subgenres she did. She took me over to the paperbacks area and started loading me up with books without even asking. I liked her, and she was obviously excited to have found someone who read the same genre she did (I totally understand, I have to keep from exploding with excitement when I meet a person face-to-face who enjoys manga, since most people I know don’t even know what manga is). I didn’t want to hurt her feelings, but I also didn’t want to walk out with 10 books I hadn’t chosen for myself.

  37. JL
    Aug 16, 2011 @ 15:16:06


    I totally sympathize with your librarian experience! I’ve found it rare that people recommend books without raving about them and wanting fan-girl/boy buddies to squee with (I’m guilty of that myself), which in turn makes it more coercive. That’s why I rely on book blogs, since it’s a no-pressure recommendation. I recently bought some large-print James Patterson novels for my recently widowed father-in-law, and I caught myself pestering him if he’d read any yet or liked them. Funny, too, because I’ve never even read James Patterson!

    It’s pretty amazing that people can be so over-the-top excited about books. I never have the same issues when it comes to recommending tv shows or movies. But books feel more personal for some reason.

  38. LoriK
    Aug 16, 2011 @ 15:21:31

    For mean recommending is much more difficult than warning someone away. I only warn people off if either the plot or the writing is really terrible, I’m talking about plot problems like a nasty rape or writing where so bad it’s distracting or makes it difficult to understand what’s going on (names that change mid-book for example). If the problem isn’t really dire then I just give people my impressions and let them make their own decision.

    Recommendations are much trickier because likes are so individual. One person’s strong hero is another person’s alphole. One person’s funny is another person’s juvenile. The thing that I think is a minor plot hole may ruin the book for someone else. I basically don’t make recommendations to people unless I know their taste well.

  39. M A
    Aug 16, 2011 @ 16:03:32

    I don’t approach reviewing with the intent to recommend or to warn other readers. I offer an opinion on my particular reading experience and my perception as to a book’s quality.

    As others have noted, criteria concerning what constitutes a good read varies from reader to reader. Some people like lots of world-building and attention to setting, others are bored by it. Some people consider unlikeable characters a waste of time, others are willing to give them a chance. Some people prefer lots of dialogue, others think “Enough talk, already!” In erotic romance, language and situations one person finds repellant is someone else’s biggest fantasy.

    I’ve favorably reviewed books I personally found not to my taste because I recognized the book was well-written. I’ve favorably reviewed books where writing quality was mediocre but I still enjoyed storytelling elements (well-crafted plot, solid, interesting characterization, etc.)

    The more I review, the more reluctant I am to assign a rating or “grade” to a book because I find rating systems too simplistic. I’d rather discuss aspects of the book I liked or disliked. That way, readers considering my opinion aren’t misled by a star or a grade.

    Finally, I choose not to take the reviewing process too seriously or to presume my comments carry significant weight in the promotion of or the suppression of an author’s work. I enjoy reading reviews and comparing/contrasting other readers’ “take” on a book to mine, but no review, good, bad, or middling, has ever impacted my decision to purchase and read a book.

  40. Sherry Thomas
    Aug 16, 2011 @ 18:08:12

    Back when Judith Ivory was still answering emails, I once wrote her and told her how much I loved BEAST. She answered back thanked me for making her feel better, as someone at Amazon had given the book a harsh review.

    I remember being shocked. I couldn’t imagine anyone not loving a book that was a revelation to me. It took me a while to understand that different tastes really mean different tastes.

    Then, when SHADOWHEART by Laura Kinsale came out, Janine and I, both big LK fans, had very different reactions to the book. Again I remember being shocked, since Janine’s tastes otherwise align so closely with my own.

    Basically anything one reader love, another reader will not love so much or even actively hate. And until a reader is done with a book, you never know how that reader-book chemistry is going to shake out.

  41. mary
    Aug 16, 2011 @ 18:50:30

    I chose recommending to be easier because it’s what I’ve been more successful in accomplishing than in leading people away from books.

  42. Lilian Darcy
    Aug 16, 2011 @ 18:59:14

    I once recommended Betty Neels to a friend, and she went, “Meh, I tried her years ago… nah.” Then I said – we were both going through a tough time – “Anne, Betty is VALIUM” and her eyes lit up, and she came back to me a few weeks later, deeply grateful. “You’re right. BETTER than valium.”

    So, you know, you just have to know how to sell it…

  43. Sunita
    Aug 16, 2011 @ 19:49:44

    @Lilian Darcy: I cannot stop laughing. You are so very right. Illness? Betty Neels. Traumatic experience? Betty Neels. Depression? Betty Neels.

    Just pull Sister Peters in Amsterdam out of the plastic bin and work forward in time.

  44. Cavalier Queen
    Aug 16, 2011 @ 20:15:37

    I seem to be the only one of my friends that will admit to reading romance genre…everything from S. Kenyon, C.Harris, Feehan, Byrd, to all sorts of lesser known sub genres authors in erotica. So I don’t make ANY recommendations and no one asks for any. :-( I do however read in the, what JL called “high brow literary fiction” genre as well, and will take recommendations but rarely make them (just started The Paris Wife, excellent start in terms of word painting, have no idea as far as plot or character though). I have made recommendations or ‘warn offs’ on this blog, just because I think others on this list might be interested. As for warn-offs, I include specifics as to *why* I would give a ‘warn-off’ because it isn’t just enough to say I didn’t enjoy the book as a reader, which is relevant, but perhaps more relevant to keep a person from wasting money is to explain the specific reasons for that sort of recommendation. Just my $0.02.

  45. Kristyn
    Aug 16, 2011 @ 20:35:46

    I completely agree. I would hate to recommend a book and have the reader dislike it, after taking the time and spending the money to experience the novel based on my recommendation. Everyone once in a while, though, I come across a book that I just HAVE to share. And even then, I try to remember that not everyone will have the same tastes as I do.

  46. Emily
    Aug 16, 2011 @ 23:30:00

    None of my friends in real life read romance.
    Then there’s the problem of price. I would feel bad if someone spent on money on a book they don’t love or even like.
    On the other hand, when I fall in love with a book I find it easy to recommend a book. Its silly, but falling in love makes me gush, whether with a book or a person. (usually with a book)

  47. Bella F.
    Aug 17, 2011 @ 00:25:03

    I answered the poll before reading anything and found it surprising that my answer was in the minority. But I guess I also kind of took a different perspective on it. When I work reference at the library I do a lot of reader’s advisory because tons of people are always looking for suggestions on what they should try next, so in this way I figure it’s so much simpler to recommend; I extend my advisory to friends and family when they purchase all the time and they sometimes have not liked what I suggested but most of the time it works out. Warning someone off a book doesn’t really factor in for me. I rarely do it but even when I do I think people will still check the book out anyway, just maybe from the library instead if they’re not gonna buy it.

  48. Ivy
    Aug 17, 2011 @ 09:18:19

    I think it’s harder to recommend. I’ve had people say they didn’t care for a book I’d recommended & others that have returned & bought the rest of the series. I really don’t take the dislikes personally because there are other series/books they’ve loved. I feel bad though because I know they’ve spent $ & time on it. A lot depends on how well I know the reader. I always try to tell them why I liked it, basic plot, and what I may not have cared for about it. When you get into YA though, I’m lost. I really don’t read YA. I have 2 on my pile but haven’t gotten to them yet.

  49. When in doubt, mumble. - Southern Fried Chicas
    Aug 17, 2011 @ 15:52:54

    […] over at Dear Author asked a very interesting question, one I never really thought about before: “Which is harder: […]

  50. willaful
    Aug 17, 2011 @ 16:09:44



    Making recommendations is fairly easy for me, but if anyone ever responds to a review by me saying, “Oh it sounds awful, I’m taking it off my TBR,” I will usually respond, “Well, you might feel differently.” Unless the book was so thoroughly awful I can’t even imagine it. I’ve learned to accept that tastes differ quite widely.

  51. Fiona McGier
    Aug 17, 2011 @ 22:00:03

    It’s definitely harder for me to warn someone off of a book because I know that our tastes might be different and what I didn’t like might be someone else’s favorite. So I agonize more over trying to explain what I didn’t like without spoilers. Generally I won’t bother to finish a book that isn’t well-written, so that’s never an issue. But if I dislike a book, I examine my reaction carefully, so that when I tell someone, even the author, what I didn’t like, it’s not just an insult, but a comprehensive analysis.

  52. Cindy
    Aug 18, 2011 @ 06:54:55

    I work in a bookstore, so recommendations are part of my job as well. Sometimes it works out, sometimes not. One customer who’s a regular, we had originally thought our tastes align but I’ve since realized that 90% of the time, we are polar opposites. So now I recommend the ones that were meh or I didn’t care for.

    As for receiving, except for one person online, I no longer consider them after burning too much money on books I hated. I prefer to just read the synopsis and I might read what everyone’s saying online but ultimately, I go by the synopsis. Or because I get really curious to find out just what everyone hated about a book LOL.

  53. Lynne Connolly
    Aug 20, 2011 @ 13:02:19

    Oh warning them off. I take huge care over bad reviews and I hate doing them, but if I didn’t do them, it wouldn’t be fair on the books I gave good reviews to.
    I open every book dying to love it, wanting to give it a recommendation, so it’s a disappointment when it doesn’t work out.
    And I always emphasise that it’s only my opinion. Others will love what I don’t.

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