Should writers be reviewers?

reviewer typewriter_edited-2As a newly published writer, I thought if I was asking people to review my books, I should be prepared to review other writers’ work. But to my surprise, many writers—actually most writers—refuse to review books. Sooner or later, you have to tell someone you know, or even like, that you do not like their book. It’s almost as easy as telling a new parent that you think their baby is ugly.

Recently an amusing and talented writer asked me to review her book. As it happened, I’d already read the book. Like her blog, it was funny and well-written. Only problem was that I really disliked the main character and the premise and well…the book. Obviously, there are better reviewers out there for her book.

I’m lucky. She was gracious and understanding. But I’ve heard other stories of writers who entered into long-lasting feuds on the basis of a negative review or even remark. Maurice Sendak, who received a terrible review in the New York Times from a young Salman Rushdie,  called him, “That flaccid f**khead. He was detestable. I called up the Ayatollah, nobody knows that.”

So here’s my question:


Has a friend ever asked you to review a book you didn’t like?

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