Ask a Literary Lady: I Don’t Like My Friend’s Book Recommendations

photo 1Literary Lady is on vacation this week, but here’s a favorite question from the archives!

Dear Literary Lady,
I’ve never liked my friend’s book recommendations. How do I tell him that nicely and also stop any future recommendations?
– RecWrecker. Bend, OR.

Dear RecWrecker,

Telling a friend you don’t like their book recommendations and don’t want anymore is like telling a friend who professes their love for you that you “just want to be friends.” It’s horribly awkward and you feel like a huge jerk, but it has to be said to avoid leading people on.

Let your friend down gently when you tell them you don’t like a book. You can always say something like “I just couldn’t get into it” or “Maybe it’s just not my type of literature” or go with the cliche, “It’s not the book, it’s me.” Then, ask them why they liked the book so much.  Turn the conversation into a discussion of the book’s pros and cons.

Asking a friend to stop recommending books is a much trickier task. Try to make it about the books and not about them. By that I mean, instead of saying “I would prefer if you didn’t recommend books to me anymore,” say, “I’m not really into those kinds of books at the moment. I’m going to explore a bit on my own.”

If your friend always recommends books in a particular genre, let the genre take the blame to save your friend’s feelings. Just say, “I think I don’t like fantasy/romance/historical fiction.” If that’s mostly what they read, that will stem the tide of recommendations.

Lastly, you can always tell your friend that you’re focusing on your personal reading bucket list. You want to cross some books off your list before taking on new recommendations. Nearly every avid reader has a book bucket list, so your friend will understand how important it is to you. It’s a tactful way to ask for a little “reading space” when friend is a little too eager about pushing books onto you.

Above all, be appreciative that you have friends who exhort you to read, even if they don’t always recommend books you like. Reading is a solitary activity, but if you’re lucky enough to have good friends who love books, it’s never a lonely one.

Love and paperbacks,
Literary Lady

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