bookish

what’s the cure to problematic books?

problematic books post

if you’ve been on twitter or goodreads, you’ll know that a lot of popular books are, in reality, quite problematic, which means they either feature erasure of diverse elements (replacing a diverse character by a white straight cisgender mentally stable one*) , or insulting acts/words about a certain marginalized community.

*for example, riverdale’s tv show, erasing the asexual and aromantic identity of the main character.

here’s a sad fact: problematic books are everywhere, but not everyone is involved in the book community like  you and i are. personally, most of my friends are readers, but not all of them know exactly what the book community is. even some people in this community still aren’t aware that some books are problematic.

that’s why you and i should raise awareness. and i’m here to tell you how:

as soon as you read a problematic book/reach a problematic scene in a book, signal it.

i don’t say you don’t have to like the book, you are free to like or hate any book, but please say that it’s problematic (if you could precise EXACTLY where the issue is, that would also be amazing). it’s okay to like a problematic book, but for god’s sake TELL US IT HAS ISSUES. state it in your review, and warn your reader friends (whether it’s on the internet or in real life). send an email to the publisher/author telling them that they’re hurting many people. a lot of kind authors end up deleting the line/scene that caused issue.

support marginalized people and diverse bloggers/book people.

in fact, they can easily spot an issue, + they are more likely to write a review about it (it hurt them, so they don’t want other people like them to get hurt). that way there’s more chance you’ll discover that a book is problematic.

another fact is that diverse book people are amazing and wonderful and you should really follow them (here’s a list of diverse book bloggers made by ava at bookishness and tea).

read and recommend more #ownvoices books.

#ownvoices books are books written by diverse author featuring the diverse factor(s) they have. believe me, those books are just so realistic and so wonderful. you’ll not regret reading them. society still scrutinize diverse artists, so by buying, reading and recommending marginalized people, you’re helping. a lot.

hand ARCs of diverse books to the marginalized category of bloggers.

this is a message not only to publishers, but also to bloggers. been sent a diverse/#ownvoices ARC lately? read it, then lend/give it to the diverse community concerned. as i said before, they are more likely to spot an issue. + you’ll make them super happy by letting them read about a character like them.


of course, there are many other ways to prevent of problematic books, but i think those are the least you could do. remember, problematic books hurt people, and by warning them, you’re not only helping divers readers, but also non-diverse ones, because they’ll already know what they’re going to find when they read those books, and they will not be fooled by wrong ideas.

what’s YOUR cure to problematic books? have you ever found a issue with a book that no one was talking about?

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18 thoughts on “what’s the cure to problematic books?

  1. Yes yes yes yes yes. I’m glad you said this because I’ve said the same thing on my blog. I don’t tell anyone not to read or not to like problematic books—sometimes problematic books still have good characters or stories or whatever, and I’m guilty of liking problematic books sometimes for those reasons—but DO mention the problems in your reviews and discussions and whatnot! That way people know what they’re getting when they read the book and will know that that certain part of it is not the norm, is not ok, etc. And what a great point about giving books to the marginalized people represented. Publishers should really try and take that into account when giving ARCs, that would be amazing. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Amazing post! I always try to include reviews by other people who know the issue better than I do on my own review because most of the time even if I know something is problematic, I can’t explain why because I don’t personally relate to it. My issue is actually in recognizing the problem itself. Sometimes I read a book and enjoy it without being aware of its problems so I’m so so grateful of bloggers who have taken their time to write a post about it. It has helped me a lot 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Maha, that was such a great post! I definitely admire you for not trying to guilt-trip anyone here; you said it is okay to like a problematic book, but we should definitely acknowledge that. I have to admit: I’m still getting used to these things. Although I always make sure to raise awareness everytime I see something wrong in a novel, I don’t always spot that at first, and sometimes I struggle on explaining that to fellow readers. I felt that with A Thousand Pieces of You, by Claudia Gray. Something about the romantic relationship on the said novel really bothered me, but I couldn’t really pinpoint the exact scenes/quotes that adressed the issue. That’s why I agree that we should always seek for diverse bloggers, since they’re most likely to understand the issue and present them on their reviews. I do find important to listen to these marginalized communities if they felt misrepresented, but I also understand that not everyone will agree with it.
    Sorry about the long rant, but what I’m trying to say is: YES. Your post is great and so is your writing and ideas. Thanks for that, Maha!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Love this! I’m definitely still learning when it comes to spotting problematic books and speaking out about it. So I love all these tips! Also, it’s such a good idea to give away a book to who it represents. I don’t get arcs but I can see how that is 100% beneficial! Thanks for writing this 🙂

    Molly @ Molly’s Book Nook

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I recently read a book where I was able to pick out problematic things. In my review of that book I put the direct page numbers of the problematic content. The book also had content that wasn’t problematic and the non-problematic content actually had a positive message. I loved the positive message, but didn’t like the problematic content.

    Liked by 1 person

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