đź“š The Most Scathing Book Reviews of 2022.

There’s something about the joy people take in reading vicious book reviews like these that sits wrong with me. Oh, I know that two of the books on this list are probably vile works, written by vile people. And the other authors are famous personages and/or well-regarded writers, so they presumably have thick skins and reputations to protect them. But the gleeful responses of some of the people in the comments—I dunno:

This is the greatest read… Hilarious, I needed this.

These aren’t fight scenes in action movies, or skirmishes at a hockey game. But that’s how people react.

Worse, to me, is when people try to emulate the “scathing reviewer” schtick on their Goodreads or other book social media reviews. Because often the target then isn’t an author so famous, or well-established. And then it’s not punching up, it’s a dunk on a real person and on their hard work. It’s insulting something/someone for the sake of entertainment. Or for aggrandizing oneself.

If you didn’t like a book, you can write a reasonably polite negative review and move on. Or, just move on. There used to be a reviewer for — not McSweeneys, but some sister publication — who only did positive reviews. If they read a book they didn’t like, not only did they not review it, they wouldn’t even name it. “Life is too short to waste on bad books” was the mantra. It’s not everyone’s attitude, but I fall into that camp, myself.