//I’m a tad bit scared of the response this post will get, but let’s see. Like all my discussion posts, this is not intended to offend/ridicule anyone.
I’ve heard tons of people on booktube and read tons of bloggers who say that ‘they see the problems in ——- book and yet they enjoyed it a lot’, which personally I completely can agree with because there are tons of books which I’ve read where I can see the problem and why it hurts a particular group of people, and yet enjoy the book for at least its entertainment value.
I see how sometimes a group of people might get hurt because of a particular way a book is written. No matter what non-Indian book I pick up, I’ve never seen myself accurately reperesented in them. I have never read about an aptly represented Indian in any non-Indian book that I’ve read, and yes there have been times when I’m been offended by the way some authors portray ‘typical’ Asian people, or write us in unflattering/untruthful manners. So yes, I absolutely understand that sometimes, books end up hurting a group of people for the way they represent these people.
However, the reason I’m writing this post today is because I watched a particular video where the booktuber decides to reread a number of her favorite books to see if she can pick up on the problems in these books. And this is where I feel things are getting out of control.
Reading books with the sole purpose of picking up problems in them is something I can’t connect to. Personally, it seems insane to me that someone would specifically pick up a book just to see its problems; I cannot relate to that at all. There is a huge uproar in the bookish community about problematic books. But what I feel is getting really exhausting is people analyzing every nook and cranny of the book in order to prove it to be problematic.
Of course now, there are the books which are blatantly problematic. The problems are extremely evident and out in the open, and there’s no refusing that the book has high chances of deeply offending a group of persons. However, I’m talking of the other books, which are not problematic in an open way. I’ve lately watched/read reviews where the reveiwer praises the book, and then goes on to say how problematic it is. To substantiate that opinion, the reveiwer then comes up with one or two dialogues, or one or two quotes here and there and bam! ‘This book is SO problematic‘.
This is where I feel it is taking this issue to a great extent. Of course probems in books have to be dealt with, but nitpicking every single word and sentence is crazy. You know why? It’s because if you sit down to nitpick and critically analyze every single sentence in a book, each and every book will turn out to be problematic. There will always be something in the book which offends a particular group of people.
I’ve heard people complain about how Harry Potter is problematic because it had only one majorly detailed female character, that it should’ve had more female characters in the forefront. I’ve seen people hate on V E Shcwab because her characters aren’t diverse. I’ve read reviews of books where reviewers deem the book to be ‘extremely problematic’ because of one dialogue a character might have said.
And this is crazy to me. Every single book will be problematic, if you start analyzing things like this. Personally, I consider a book problematic when the entire book or the majority of it propogates something I don’t stand by, or if it intentionally represents a particular group of people in a offending light. That is what is problematic to me. But just because a character says something offending doesn’t make the entire book problematic! That character himself might be problematic, or else, that is simply a flawed character and we should embrace flawed characters. We might not accept their flawed thoughts or opinions, but declaring a book to be bad or problematic because it showcases a flawed character isn’t something I agree with.
Of course I am in no way making light of the problems which people might have, but nitpicking and reading something exclusively will make 99% books problematic.
Which brings me to the next question : are you allowed to love problematic books?
My answer for that would be YES, but only if you recognize the problems and accept it. Blindly loving a book and not seeing its problems is again something foolish to do, but at the same time, there’s nothing wrong with loving a book for its entertainment value, problems aside. A major example of this is A Court of Thorns and Roses trilogy by Sarah J Maas. Almost every review I’ve read of it, the reviewer claims to acknowldege the problems it has, and yet absolutely loves it. Which makes me happy, because that’s what I do too!
But then there are a people who claim they absolutely hate a book, or just declare that book to be a problematic one because it has one flawed dialogue or one little problem. And because of that problem, they then feel that no one should enjoy the book and if by chance someone does enjoy it, they conclude that they don’t see its problems.
I personally feel that there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a book, as long as you are aware of the problems it has, and do not blindly praise it all day long. I also feel nitpicking every word in a book to detect problems is harmful, because we are all different people and get offended by different things. So every book will have that one single sentence or that one character saying hurtful things but declaring that book to be a bad one, or a problematic one just doesn’t make sense.