I know that the fact that I dislike a book is not necessarily a comment on that book’s value. I know that my preferences are not someone else’s. And I know that I do not want to turn a reader away from a book they may potentially love just because I did not.
I am always honest when I recommend a book I didn’t like. I try very hard not to say too much, as I want my students to form their own opinions about literature. Too often I see readers turned away from a book because they were shamed for liking it, because prior to reading it someone said something nasty and they were embarrassed to admit they liked something that someone else found problematic. If I didn’t enjoy a book, I usually tell students I had trouble getting into it, but that I think they may like it for reasons.
Just a few months ago I DNF’d a book that everyone else raved about it. I kept trying to read it, but it just wasn’t doing it for me. I didn’t like the writing or care at all about the characters. But I recommended it to a student because it seemed like something she might like.
I was right. She ended up reading the entire trilogy over the weekend and thanked me for telling her about the book.
At a book signing about a year ago, I spent more time writing out recommendations for other authors’ books than signing my own. Several times I recommended books I didn’t love because it seemed like they would be right up that person’s alley.
I think that’s what any good teacher or librarian does. We are readers, of course, which means we have our own opinions about books. But I would never let my prejudices, my subjectivity, my own likes and dislikes, stand in the way of making a reader out of someone.