Issues in the Bookish Community

Click-bait title aside, I didn’t want to write this post. I hate anything to do with “drama”, but I feel this needs to be addressed within the book community. Not that I’m some kind of authority on the matter, but I’m going to explode if I don’t get it out somehow. 

Throughout the last six to eight months, I’ve noticed several controversies (if you want to call it that) in the bookish community, specifically booktube. I’m going to try to keep my thoughts somewhat coherent and linear, but if I go off on a tangent, forgive me.

First, I want to talk about booktube specifically. Throughout the last seven years, I’ve had two different booktube channels. Once, in 2011, when the community wasn’t as big it is now, and again earlier this year. Let me just say before I get into everything that I love booktube. For the most part, it’s a lovely and welcoming community. However, there are a few outlying issues that can sour one’s experience in it. These issues are also found in other issues on youtube, so don’t think I’m only knocking booktube. 

Let’s get into the argument for and against the negative reviews. Here’s my stance: negative reviews are a good thing! Not every book warrants a stellar, raving review. Sometimes, a book just won’t do it for you. And talking about it is okay. You didn’t like the main character? Pacing a little slow? Guess what? You can and should be able to talk about that in your review. However, tagging an author on social media just to say “your writing sucks!1!!!1!” is not conducive to an open and welcoming book community. There’s no constructive criticism in that statement. It’s also not even a review.

What seems to confuse people is trying to separate the two. A person who writes a negative review on a book and posts it online is not a bad person nor are they seeking attention. Just because someone doesn’t love your favorite author doesn’t mean they are attacking that person. Their works are simply not their cup of tea. Simple as that. There is no need for this outrage culture that insists on tearing down another book blogger for not loving Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass nor is there a need for attacking Cassandra Clare on twitter because of her views on the “Shadowhunters” television show on freeform, which brings me to my next point, ownership of fictional characters. 

Part of me wants to sit down and write a full, separate, dissertation on this topic (There actually is a dissertation about fandom culture here, if you’re interested!), but I’m already a full-time college student and time is precious. So, I’ll just get down to the nitty gritty. When an author creates a fictional world filled with fictional characters, those belong to the author. Sure, it’s wonderful that people write fan-fiction (I did too, once upon a time!), but it’s important to realize the true ownership that exists. I’ve witnessed countless people on social media try to dictate what should happen in a fictional universe. Y’all, it’s fictional. Yes, it’s wonderful and offers us a much-needed escape, and books are the best things since . . . ever, but ultimately, it doesn’t totally belong to you. I know, it’s heartbreaking. (I’m not being sarcastic or trying to be condescending here. It really sucks). But, that’s why we have things like fan-fiction. You get to change things up, and that’s freaking awesome. However, the canon is still canon. At the end of the day, it still belongs to the author. As I mentioned earlier, you can disagree with the author, but don’t attack them because of that disagreement.

It’s not just in books. Look at the Star Wars community after episodes 7 and 8 came out. Right now, people are actively trying to remake the movies. Guess what, buddy? If you don’t enjoy something fully, that truly sucks. But, instead of using all that energy to take down something, use it to consume something else you might enjoy. Maybe I’m being a little preachy here, but life is too short and too long to spend that much time angry and hating something. 

I feel like I’m starting to ramble, and class is about to start. Perhaps, I’ll revisit this post in the future, but for now, I’m going to let it be.

Happy Reading,


Founder of Geektana

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