Let’s Talk Bookish: Positive Message = Good Book?

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme, hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books & Dani @ Literary Lion, where we discuss certain topics, share our opinions, and spread the love by visiting each others’ posts.

This weeks topic caught my attention and I wanted to share my thoughts: Does having a positive message automatically make a book good?

If you see good representation in a bad story, do you still consider it a good book?

Short answer: No. If I see good representation in a bad story, I do not consider it a good book overall. “Bad story” is also a broad term…

I thought the asexual representation in This Golden Flame by Emily Victoria was done well, but I thought the story overall was bland, so I don’t consider this a good book.

There is good rep in books with problematic authors. One that comes to mind is Birthday by Meredith Russo – it was a heartbreaking and beautiful story featuring a transgender character that I loved, but once I heard the author was accused of physically abusing her spouse, I no longer recommend this book, despite how I think it had amazing representation by an author who is trans.

Are you more lenient with an ‘okay’ book if it has an important message?

I am definitely more lenient if I feel the book is important. I may not like the book, but I know it will help someone somewhere in the world see themselves – and thats enough for me. That book isn’t meant for ME, its meant for THEM.

One example of this is You Should See Me In A Crown by Leah Johnson – most people loved it. I didn’t think I would like it, but I read it anyway and I was right – the book wasn’t for me. I still gave it 3 stars on Goodreads because I know this is something Black queer girls can see themselves in, and I am so happy for them! But I just didn’t enjoy the story.

How do you deal with a book that you disliked/hated if you think it still has an important theme?

If I disliked a book, I generally won’t talk about it. I won’t go around hating on other peoples reviews or bookstagram posts, but I also generally will not engage. Every once in a while I voice my opinion on why I disliked a book with an important theme, but I can still respect that its important to someone else.

Do you think we should actively recommend books with positive/important messages even if we personally didn’t like the book?

If I did not like a book, I will not recommend it, end of story. There are plenty of other people out there who will promote a book like that, and it doesn’t need to be me. If someone asks for a recommendation and I think of a book with an important message even if I didn’t like it, I may suggest it to them, but in general I don’t recommend and generally don’t think about books I didn’t like.

How about you – do you think books with a positive message makes a book “good”?

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8 thoughts on “Let’s Talk Bookish: Positive Message = Good Book?

  1. This is definitely an interesting topic to think about. But ultimately for me the two things are separate. If I don’t like something I don’t like it. Good or bad representation that’s a separate issue. Usually something with bad representation I’ll never touch if I hear about it beforehand.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It really was a topic that made me stop and think hard about it! I agree, if I don’t like it, I don’t like it. Representation can’t save a poorly written book. And I agree, I’m thankful for other reviewers who share their thoughts so I can avoid books that I know won’t work for me!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. “Personally, I don’t and I would never ask anyone to do that either.” I agree with this, UNLESS someone asks specifically for a book with good rep of x. Then I may recommend a book with a warning that I think the story is bad but perhaps the x representation is well done.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I feel very similar to you on this topic, and in my experience the “good message” is often not executed very well in a bad book and may very well be one of the things that made me dislike it in the first place.

    Liked by 1 person

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