7 Hardest Types of Books to Review

I like to read pretty much anything that looks remotely interesting, I don’t care what genre, who wrote it, or the hows and whys of them pulling it out of their brain onto paper. As long as it’s decently-written and valuable in some way, that’s all that matters. That being said, when it comes down to reviewing it, that’s another matter entirely. Some reviews I absolutely hate writing, but still feel compelled to just because I took the time to read it. Comprehensive reviews even written for fun aren’t always easy. These are the categories that I still have difficulty reviewing after three years of practice. Have one of your own? Feel free to leave a comment below!

7. Poetry and Art

I adore reviewing poetry, as you’ll know. I’m actually a little proud of the fact that my most frequented review genre is one that’s considered among the most complicated to review. ARC reviewers often won’t accept poetry because it’s just that hard to articulate. Especially if it’s good or middling. Poetry isn’t visual exactly, but it’s an abstract, psychological feeling than a novel can’t provide in the same way.
Art and graphic novels are also difficult because they are more visual than writing. The review ends up being a lot of descriptive words, and reviewing several at one time makes it clear how same-y it can be. I don’t typically review every volume of a graphic novel or manga series for this reason, when it can be summed up in a few of its entries.

6. Indie Books, Especially Bad Ones

If you ever review indie books, the author will read it eventually. I find this kind of nerve-wracking, even though I value indie books and am lenient on their faults, if they have any. It’s awkward even to have an author “like” your gushing, positive review of their work, and I try to evade being trapped into writing negative ones if at all possible.
I enjoy neither dishonesty nor ripping on someone’s personal work, and those who do enjoy tearing apart indie ARCs ought to re-examine their relationship with books. You have to consider it’s one person doing a team’s job. If the book is genuinely bad and you’re still stuck with reviewing it, it’s better to be critical in a helpful way than critical for laughs.

5. Classics

I love writing reviews of classics, just as much as reading them, but the review tends to eke out torturously slow because well, it’s hard to be creative by this point. You’ve had decades of reviewers who got there first, who hated, liked, or were indifferent about the novel. There’s no opinion that hasn’t been had several times over, so these can be quite the challenge if you’re hoping to be original. And I try, at least.
Part of the reason I prefer obscure classics and vintage novels is because their lack of reviews doesn’t cause me to lean one way or the other before reading it.

4. Mediocre Books

Sometimes there’s just not enough to talk about either way. Mediocre books are those that I feel compelled to write about but the review always boils down to “I guess it was decent”. It’s often said that the deadliest sin a film can commit is not being bad, but being boring, and the same is true of literature. I’d rather it be a load of outrageous, offensive crap than be boring.

3. Explicit Books

Most of my favourite books, being mostly horror, are super violent. And grotesque. And disturbing. And graphic in other ways as well. The violence is not necessarily what I like about the genre. It’s neither here nor there, but I do like the disturbing aspect of horror. It ignites my mind and puts my imagination to work. It’s the genre I’d like to master eventually in my own writing.
Horror and gruesome thrillers can be hard to recommend to people, I guess, if you’re self-conscious about sounding like a sociopath. I… personally don’t care. People can assume that if they want. They don’t even read horror if they really think that.
Now, the genre that IS hard for me to review is erotica. It’s not a favourite genre, I don’t frequent it or especially like it much, but I’ll defend it. I know how embarrassing it can be to talk about it not knowing who will read your review. There are some amazingly-written novels in the genre, but nonetheless.

2. Nonfiction in General

Nonfiction is a mixed bag for me anyway. I’d definitely say I don’t ever feel the desire to write a review for memoirs, or topics I don’t know enough about to form a truthful statement on. I think it’s that, with nonfiction, you can’t leave it at “I liked this because of my personal preference”, you have to check facts and talk about how well it’s articulated, while trying to articulate it yourself.

1. Books on Political and Social Issues

Oh God. These are the worst. I have an allergy to politics, and am pretty openly anarchistic about the whole farce, and yet like clockwork, if you write ANYTHING regarding human rights, social issues, or feminism, someone will complain about your (assumed) political stance. How is wanting other people’s quality of life to be better automatically make you a (insert whatever political party here)? It ought to be a basic matter of doing what’s right, regardless of labels.
Anyway, before I rant, I enjoy philosophy, humanitarian, and feminist books. They are important but I hate reviewing them. Forget the risk of backlash, I just feel like they’re hard to review without devolving into an incoherent rant that definitely won’t inspire people to read the thing.

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