Is Hate Reading Really a Thing?

I’ve long understood that there’s such a thing as “hate watching,” particularly for TV shows. On the one hand, I get it – it’s a way to keep in the conversation about a popular show, even if you don’t like it. On the other hand, what’s the point? We’re living in the era of peak TV and if you don’t like one series there are bound to be others out there that are more worth spending your time with.

Now I’m wondering if hate reading had become a thing, which makes even less sense.

I came across this recently after I finished up the fourth volume of Brian K. Vaughn’s Y: The Last Man. The series, about the literal last man on Earth (a pathogen of some kind killed every male – human or otherwise – on the planet) navigating a world run by women, is fairly acclaimed, but not everybody digs it. That’s perfectly OK (all art appreciation is personal, after all). But by the fourth of five volumes, you’d figure the people still reading are pretty much fans.

When I finish reading something I head over to Goodreads and see what other folks think of it. It’s interesting to see where my opinion fits and whether I like or loathe something for the same reason other folks do. In the case of Y, I was drawn to a 3-star review, because I often find “negative” review more interesting that positive ones. Still, I was a bit perplexed by the opening:

After hating deluxe editions 1, 2 and 3, I wasn’t expecting much from this one, but it turned out to be marginally better.

Talk about damning with faint praise. The reviewer concludes that she was “looking forward to” finishing volume five and “not having to read a Brian Vaughn comic again.”

What the hell? I mean, I can see reading the first book in an acclaimed series, not being all that impressed, but deciding that you should give the second book a try to see if it gets better. It’s like buying an album by a band that’s new to you and deciding, even though you don’t like it much, to get another just to make sure you’re not missing anything (I speak from experience – I have a habit of buying the wrong album when I try a new band). But that’s a far stretch from “hating” something. If you hated the first one, and certainly the second one, why waste your time with any others?

I suppose Brian K. Vaughn is coming to her home and holding a gun to her while she reads his comic (maybe he uses a service – give me referral, Brian!)? Otherwise I can’t figure how anyone anywhere is ever “forced” to read a book they don’t want to read. That’s something you can only force yourself to do, for whatever strange reason you might want to subject yourself to displeasure.

Far be it from me to discourage reading for any reason, even if it’s just to get a good hate on. All I’m saying is that life is too damned short to read bad books, watch bad movies, or listen to bad music. If you read a book and hate it, I can guarantee that there are countless books you could read next that aren’t that book’s sequel. Take a chance on a new author, a new series. What’s the worst that can happen?


Attributed to James Joyce. He was onto something.


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