None of us is immune. We finish a book we LOVE, start evangelizing to our friends about it, wait with baited breath for them to finish, and then… crickets. Or worse, the friend gives it a meh and moves on to the next book. Sometimes it’s an entire author you fangirl but your friend says, “What’s the big deal with her book? They’re all the same,” or “You know those books are totally derivative right?” or “I prefer X, Y, Z author.” And all of a sudden you feel like this:
So what’s a girl to do? I’m still working that out, to be honest, but there’s no sense throwing down with someone you love just because they didn’t share your love of a particular book. Here’s what NOT to do (I can tell you from being on both sides of the situation):
1. Don’t get defensive: The key to this is to stay calm. Don’t go straight to “What’s wrong with you?” because that is NOT going to end well. Instead, express your surprise but ask (calmly, calmly) what they found less than excellent. Maybe it was the hype, and we all know how hype or overexposure can lead to ridiculous expectations and that can ruin someone’s reading experiences. Maybe you shouldn’t have texted them every day demanding to know where they were in the book and what was happening and saying “Ooh this is my favorite part!” And of course, maybe they have valid issues with the book that you didn’t see or dwell on.
2. Don’t act like they don’t “get” it: The only thing worse than getting defensive is being condescending. Acting like the book is just too sophisticated or complicated or layered for a friend’s simple tastes is just ridiculous. OK, professor (and I mean this literally in a few cases). I may not have a PhD, but I do have a degree in English and Comp Lit, so take your condescending attitude elsewhere.
4. Don’t talk about how much you hated one of “their” books: Because that’s childish, and it may not even apply. And if it does, remember that it would’ve been much easier to pretend you liked a book, but this is your FRIEND or relative, and you wanted to be up front, even if it’s uncomfortable.
5. Don’t immediately beg the person to re-read it: This has happened to me. I told a friend I thought a book was FINE but not the BEST BOOK EVER WRITTEN, and she kept asking and asking and asking me to re-read. I relented, and I liked the book even less the second time around. We’re still friends, of course, but it taught me a lesson about pressuring others to give a book “another try.” It’s fine to do occasionally or after some time has elapsed (like in one case the first book in a series wasn’t my thing, but when the second book came out, a friend suggested I try again, and I enjoyed the second book so much I re-read the first).