You Should Read Bad Reviews

One of my favorite writers is Jon Acuff. He is a New York Times best-selling author, a much sought-after public speaker, and a popular podcast host. I subscribe to his weekly Friday email blast, “5 Ideas to Shout About.” In his July 8th edition, I found idea #4 most worthwhile. Here it is: #4. You should read bad reviews.

Please read the following 1-star review from Amazon:

“One star is too many, but it is the minimum. The only reason I read this was for a class. I gave the teacher a stinker review as well. The book is a pointless exercise in futility about pointless stupid people. The only point to the story is that people with money are just as trashy, if not more so, than people without. The characters have no development, are barely two-dimensional, do stupid things for no reason, and face no consequences for their veniality. This book is the literary equivalent of being stuck in a window seat on an airplane for 14 hours next to a drunken, smelly creep with bad breath and smelly gas who talks at you for the whole flight about his pointless job. For being such a thin book, it is the hardest reading I have ever had to do. Of course, it is even more aggravating that the kindle edition costs $11 for a book you can get at a bookstore for less than a dollar.”

Can you guess what book this review is about? It’s for a small novel called “The Great Gatsby.” You might have heard of it. It did alright from what I hear. I love to read 1-star reviews for my favorite books because it reminds me that every book gets them. Today, if you’re feeling down about a project you’ve been working on, your writing, or anything else you’re creating, look up a few of your favorite products on Amazon. Take a look at their 1-star reviews. I promise you’ll feel better.

We’ve had our small share of stinky reviews at the garment care establishment where I work. They are rare but irritable and annoying. The bad review is never from an established customer. Nine out of ten times, it’s from some ignoramus from out of town who rarely uses a dry cleaner or professional fabric care specialist.

Acuff’s admonition to read bad reviews prompted me to search for the best-selling books of all time. I plugged my findings into Amazon and combed through the recommendations to see if I could locate any 1-star reviews, and I did. Acuff’s promise was true to his word, and my enhanced pleasure was instantaneous.

Here are a few of the 1-star Amazon reviews for what Google says are some of the best-selling books of all time. Fasten your seatbelt. Let’s go. Enjoy!

Don Quixoteby Miguel De Cervantes

Don’t waste your time…

Don Quixote is considered the first true novel and therefore, a classic. While this is a great distinction let’s not confuse inventing a genre with literary greatness, lest we fall victim to a fallacy of chronology. This tome is basically National Lampoons do La Mancha. If you like road-trip stories, potty humor and the slapstick comedy of a bumbling protagonist, you may very well like this book. There is certainly nothing wrong with liking those things, but I decidedly do not. Thankfully I didn’t have to read it for a class.

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

Only for literary readers skilled in English

The first line of this book got me interested but as I started actually reading it I found it too difficult. (English is not my mother’s tongue), so it’s probably a good book for people with a thorough knowledge of English who feel like taking on a literary work.

So boring and easy to lose focus on…

I had to read this for school and normally, I am not opposed to reading projects. This one is just plain out terrible for me. It is boring and I end up losing focus every other page. It takes me nearly an hour to an hour and a half to read just three chapters. (I could read something with similar length in a third of the time.)

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Have to admit…

I do not understand all the hype. A very basic book. A little strange and nothing earth shattering to me. I thought I had missed something big all these years and now that I’ve read it, I feel like I really never missed much at all. Not one of my favorites. I’d say you can skip it. It’s just a little ditty in my humble opinion.

I wish it was possible to rate this book a…

I wish it was possible to rate this book a negative 5. Is this guy in another world or spiritually blessed? Only a few chapters in to the book I stopped caring which it was. The message was so obvious that I felt talked down to. Poop.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

Honestly boring…

This book isn’t very much fun to read. It’s a lot of exposition, some overt bigotry, and altogether too many plotlines.

Harry is an unlikable fop…

This is a tedious and repetitive read. Harry is an unlikable fop.

Lazy writing…

Lazy writing. Heavy reliance on tropes and ‘borrowing’ from other stories and mythology. The author is a bigot and it shows in her writing.

Rowling is a sad person…

I dislike Rowling. She’s a neoliberal TERF that needs to be separated from the material from these books. She’s the Papa John of writers, except the pizza sucks.

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