Let’s Talk Bookish: “Problematic” Books

“There was no possibility of taking a walk that day.”

First line in Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brönte

Hi, guys and welcome to my Let’s Talk Bookish post for the week. It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these but not because I didn’t want to. Life got in the way and I didn’t have the energy or creativity required to write discussion posts.

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books where we each week discuss a different book related topic. This week the question is: How do you deal with problematic books?

I think my answer is summed up pretty well when I say that I had to google “problematic books” before writing this post because I wanted to find out which books are deemed problematic. Did you know that Goodreads has a list of Popular Problematic Books? It’s based on people shelving books as “problematic” (which luckily very few people do), and Twilight is number 1.

I’ve read a quite a few books from that list and have heard of a lot more. I can’t help but wonder why these books are on that list. I don’t see any issues with them and have never come across other books I would deem problematic and therefore tell people not to read. In general, I’m not part of that “cancel culture”, which these so-called problematic books are a part of. It’s leaning heavily towards banning books (although for different reasons) and don’t all readers agree that that’s a bad thing?

Another thing I also always think about when I hear the term “problematic books”: who decides that? And how am I or other people supposed to know? Not everyone reads reviews of the books they decide to pick up. It’s a thing we do here in the online bookish community, but not every reader is a part of this community (unfortunately). Should we judge them for reading and loving a book somebody else has deemed problematic? That’s very easy to answer because that’s a hard NO. I firmly believe everyone is allowed to love whatever book they want.

So to go back to the original question of how I deal with problematic books, I will say that I don’t spend very much time thinking about it. If someone calls a book problematic, I will still read it if I find it interesting. I want to form my own opinion. As that list on Goodreads shows, finding a book problematic can depend on the person reading it. It’s all very subjective in my opinion. That’s why I don’t want to discourage people from reading books that other people say there’s something wrong with. The problematic part of the book can be a very small thing while the rest of the book is perfect to you as a reader. That’s just sad to miss out on.

That’s my take on problematic books! I’d love to discuss this further in the comments so let me know what you do when you come across a problematic book. Have a great weekend!

5 thoughts on “Let’s Talk Bookish: “Problematic” Books

  1. I agree in that I usually don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it. There are books that’ll I’ll go into and KNOW they’re problematic but just as often I’ll read a book, enjoy it and then a few months later see people dragging it for being awful. And I never even realized. I think reading problematic books and even enjoying them is great, as long as you don’t deny the problems they may have. I love plenty of problematic books and characters.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it’s good to point out that one can acknowledge the problems of a book and still love it. I also especially wouldn’t want readers to feel bad for not noticing these problems when reading a book for the first time. As I said, these things are very subjective. Not everyone will find the same things problematic.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree with your opinion. I think that if you like a problematic book, that’s fine, you can like whatever you want. However, I do recognize that some books are in fact problematic, and I think that as a reader you should still be aware of that. I’ve read several books, and recently found out that some people deem them problematic, and that was a huge surprise to me. I still love these books, but I think it’s good to be aware that some of these books have things that are offending to others. And I truly agree about reading books to form your own opinion, and not condemning a book, because like you said, the problematic part might be just a small portion, and the rest of the book may be great.

    Great discussion and thanks for participating!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Of course I’d love to know if a book I love is offending to others. So I agree that you can still love the book AND be aware that it has a poor representation of something so that you don’t go around believing that the book represents reality.
      Thanks for commenting and sorry for the late answer 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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