What if I don’t like the book?

A month or so ago I was asked to carry out a technical book review on a yet un-published book. I have to admit that I was really flattered that someone would ask me to do this. I couldn’t see any problem with this as I knew the domain area, have read all the main books that are already out there discussing this and I love to read. The one thing I didn’t take into consideration was what I would do if I didn’t like the book! How do you tell someone who has put so much effort into a project that you don’t like it? It didn’t matter to me that I have never met the author, I still agonised over every word I had written. Was I being overly critical, had I emphasised the good points enough, how do you phrase “I can’t understand what this is supposed to mean” or “this example is terrible” in a way that doesn’t offend the author? In the end, after spending most of my Easter break on this, I gave up and just sent in the review. Next time, if anyone ever lets me write anything about their book again, I will try to remember that even though I love to read I don’t like everything I read.

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