Let’s Talk Bookish: Does having a positive message automatically make a book good?

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books and Dani @ Literary Lion. Today’s topic is Does having a positive message automatically make a book good?

If you see good representation in a bad story, do you still consider it a good book? Are you more lenient with an ‘okay’ book if it has an important message?

I always really struggle with rating and reviewing books of this kind. Books that have good representation and messages are important, but the way it is presented matters just as much. I can think of more than a few books that had great central topics, but weren’t able to hold my attention throughout, and if it can’t do that, there’s not much point of the message, however good it might be. The plot is the backbone of a book, and if that isn’t done well, even the best message can be lost in the confusion.

This is one reason I’m particularly careful when it comes to very highly hyped novels, particularly of the contemporary genre, because they often discuss very relevant topics, but the story isn’t necessarily up to the mark. While I feel it’s important to acknowledge the book’s message, I don’t agree with deciding if a book is good solely because it has a good theme.

I think I’m definitely somewhat lenient on ‘okay’ books though and tend to view them a little more favorably as long as the story made sense, was atleast a little enjoyable, and of course, the message itself was appropriately conveyed, though I try not to let it sway my opinion too much.

How do you deal with a book that you disliked/hated if you think it still has an important theme? Do you think we should actively recommend books with positive/important messages even if we personally didn’t like the book?

I do my best to make sure that each of my reviews are balanced and honest so that anyone who reads it can get an overall idea of the book along with my opinions on it. If I didn’t like the story, I will say so and explain what didn’t work for me, but I also mention the central themes and talk about how they are portrayed in the book and if I liked that aspect or not.

It is my opinion that even if we don’t like a book, if the message is good, we should recommend it. After all, readers’ tastes vary a lot, and someone else may enjoy a book that didn’t really appeal to me. Books with positive messages ought to be promoted as much as possible so they can reach a wider audience.

If a book has a positive message or discusses an important theme well, should it automatically be considered good even if the story isn’t very good? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

14 thoughts on “Let’s Talk Bookish: Does having a positive message automatically make a book good?

  1. Hasini @ Bibliosini July 23, 2021 / 12:20 am

    I usually break down my reviews when it comes to books like these, so that I can discuss the themes as well as everything else, like plot, writing, etc. And liking a book is a very subjective experience, so I do recommend books with good themes or messages but I’ll still let them know what I didn’t like about it too. Recommendations can be subjective too.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. JamieAdStories July 23, 2021 / 4:59 am

    I absolutely agree with this. The quality of writing has to be good or the point is lost anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. frayedbooks July 23, 2021 / 9:31 am

    I agree with all you said – I’m careful with overly hyped books because they usually fall short in the story aspect, even if they have a good message. And likewise, if a book just wasn’t for me but I think others will still benefit from the message, I’m always happy to recommend it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Raji (@journeyintofantasy) July 24, 2021 / 10:21 pm

      Yes, there are so many books with great messages that just weren’t to my taste story-wise, but I still recommend them because others may enjoy it and find it useful. Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. J (Midnight Book Blog) July 23, 2021 / 11:00 am

    This is so interesting! I will admit I am also more lenient with books if I think they have an important message. Especially because a lot of times a book strikes me as “just not for me” in actually writing style, so I don’t want an important book to suffer for that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Raji (@journeyintofantasy) July 24, 2021 / 10:23 pm

      Agreed, I always feel like it’s important to acknowledge the effort the author has put in to discuss important themes. Thanks for reading!


  5. Jaya Avendel July 23, 2021 / 4:12 pm

    I always love your balanced reviews and the way you go into detail about things you did not like so readers can decide if it something that makes the book a no for them too, so I loved your perspective on how important a message is to a book. I appreciate positive messages in stories but ultimately it needs to be part of the plot and characters’ lives as well.
    Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Raji (@journeyintofantasy) July 24, 2021 / 10:27 pm

      Thank you so much! Liking or disliking a book is really subjective, so I don’t feel like I’m doing a book justice unless I write a more thorough review.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Caroline July 23, 2021 / 4:23 pm

    Hmm, this is very interesting! I probably do put down an extra star if it has an important message – even if I don’t particularly like it

    Liked by 1 person

  7. readandreviewit1 July 24, 2021 / 2:13 pm

    This is such an interesting post! I’d never really considered this before but I think I’d definitely have to agree with what you said, writing balanced reviews is so important but having a good message doesn’t automatically make a book good. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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