On Negativity


I thought that having a book blog would make me immune from those who like to use the anonymity of the internet to vent their unpleasantness upon perfect strangers. We all enjoy a lively debate now and again, and I know that many readers love nothing more than a heated defence of a favourite character or a grumble over a poorly chosen shortlist, me included. But at heart, readers are gentle souls, are they not? Idealists, dreamers, tea drinkers. Lovers of fairytales and fancies, not malice and malevolence, surely?!

Sadly, of late, the numbers of nasty comments I receive from ‘readers’ has been increasing. I am often called ignorant or stupid. Occasionally, I am, apparently, narrow minded. Also, naive and uneducated. I don’t understand the meaning of the word ‘review’. I don’t write what people want to read. And I write too much, anyway. Plus, I am too dense to understand what some writers were trying to achieve and need to re-educate myself on how writers work. If that wasn’t bad enough, I am a horrible person for writing bad reviews of books. I am wrong, always. I miss the point, frequently, because I am, again, stupid.

The list could go on.

Thankfully I couldn’t care less what these people with such small, sad lives think. Their pathetic, pedantic comments actually make me laugh rather than upset me, which I am sure wasn’t their intention. However, I find it quite depressing that these people are out there, and find it acceptable to treat other people in this way. It is a form of bullying, of the type that is becoming more and more prevalent and insidious. The amount of cyber bullying that takes place is horrendous; I have complaints about it every week from students who have been relentlessly targeted on various social networking sites by their peers. When you don’t have to look at someone when you are communicating with them, it seems to remove the accepted boundaries of social behaviour, and all manner of hideousness comes forth from people who are probably, in all other areas of their lives, perfectly nice. What has our world come to, when a girl can’t even write a review of a book no one has probably even heard of without having a bucket of bile poured onto her head?! I might not care what these people think, but other people certainly do. Thoughtlessly abusing other people online is a dangerous game, and as a teacher, I know too well the damage it can cause.

I love the fact that the internet has introduced me to plenty of wonderful people who share my passion for books and culture and have widened my world in so many ways. I love that people find pleasure in reading the posts I cobble together. I will never stop feeling a little frisson of excitement when I get notified of a comment on my blog. I love that I am allowed to write about the things I’m interested in, and talk about those things with other people who are interested in them too, in a space I have created to do what I want with. It is incredibly liberating. Of course I recognise that in choosing to publish what I write on the internet, I open myself up to all manner of people accessing my words. However, I am not in this blogging game for controversy or debate. I have enough of that in my real life. I am not making anyone pay for what they read, and I am not forcing anyone to read what I write. So, if you don’t like me, or my opinions; if you think I’m stupid, ignorant, or both; if you think I have poor taste, write too much, or don’t know anything about books, actually – then simply press the little cross in the top left corner of your internet browser, and I will disappear. Now if only everyone had that feature…wouldn’t the world be a better place?



  1. This is really shocking. I can’t understand why people would react like this to your blog. Glad you are going to try to ignore it.

    1. I did try jim crace and didn’t like the book-however I can see all the merit and would not have expanded my view if I hadn’t read your review. keep it up! I enjoy your blog and continue to learn a little bit more. thank you

    2. I feel the same way. I save your articles because I enjoy rereading them. When you describe a trip you have taken I feel like I am there. I always forward your emails to a friend of mine because she loves books. I think your articles about the books you are reading are the best I’ve ever read. I am sure there are many people like me who enjoy reading your blog but never take time to comment or say “Thank You”.

  2. i love your writing. I was afraid that you were going to stop posting. I know it isn’t always easy to do but just try to ignore them – they are the ones with sad lives and it is their problem not yours. Do keep reviewing. I don’t agree with every word you write but you stimulate my thoughts on books every post!

  3. Totally agree with Liz. I enjoy reading what you have to say and am pleased when Book Snob arrives in my In Box. I hope you can continue to ignore the nasty bullying comments..and they don’t eventually wear you down.

  4. Very sorry and sad to read your blog this morning. The only” excuse” one can give these narrow minded people is that they need to vent their frustations somewhere so they choose you as it is easier and a bit coward on their behalf .

    Enjoy this beautiful day and ignore them, ignorance I found is one of the best weapon.

  5. Very sad…but not surprising when you consider the number of horrible trolls on Amazon, for example. Write a book, and they appear, to tear it apart; they take pleasure in ruining a book’s chances. So there are some of that ilk trolling the book blogs, too. The ballerina Suzanne Farrell wrote in her memoir that when she was a young dancer a nasty person sent her a horrid note. Philosophically she wrote, “It might have read, ‘Welcome to the big time!'” Because there’s always some of that nastiness when you make a name for yourself. My advice to you is: Talk to a few of your fellow popular book blogger friends, like Simon or others, and ask if they’ve received such things. I’m sure they all have, and they’ll have words to reassure you, as no one else could do.

  6. I love your blog. You have introduced me to new authors and books. I smile when I see a message in my inbox telling me you have posted on your blog. Your postings are so much fun to read – insightful, intelligent, fun, and fresh. I love the pictures that you choose to accompany them (especially today’s) and I think what you write is always very well thought-out. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  7. Pff, what an unpleasant bunch of pretentious snots! As you say, if they don’t like the way you write, then there’s no reason they should read your work! It seems to me they are the people who are poorly educated: they obviously haven’t learnt the first rules of tolerance and common courtesy. I am appalled that people who set themselves up as beings of superior intelligence should resort to such cheap and offensive means of expressing themselves.

    On a lighter note, and if it’s any consolation, some of the most famous writers received hate mail during their careeers, so you must be doing somehting right! 🙂

  8. I love your blog! I always read your posts though I think I’ve only left a reply once or twice, but you have introduced me to lots of books I’ve enjoyed but would never have heard of otherwise (not least the wonderful Dorothy Whipple). I have also found your posts about teaching fascinating and thought-provoking.

    Who could ever hope to write a review that covers every possible viewpoint or that everyone agrees with? And would anyone want to? What I especially love about your reviews is that you convey so well the pleasure and satisfaction you find in reading. I hope you will carry on sharing that on your blog for a long time to come and don’t let those small-minded people get you down!

  9. So sorry to hear of this. There are just some real nuts out there. The beautiful thing about the internet is it comes with a delete key. Do what you do and stuff the nay sayers. A bunch of party poopers.

  10. I am d o sorry this is happening to you. Indeed, it seems to happen to everyone with an online presence. You are smart, interesting and a pleasure to read. However, I would be sure to credit the images I use, if I were you. Otherwise you are awesome! 🙂

  11. I held my breath as I began to read your post, thinking oh no she’s going to stop blogging, then I started to breathe again once I realised you were bravely ‘venting’ but determined to continue on. Good for you Rachel. The comment left on your blog recently regarding your review of Virginia Woolf had me steaming under the collar and I was pleased at your response. What puzzles me is the use of vitriol to punch home the argument and to (I assume) shut you down – because it really does not work. I confess I drafted a reply (to that comment) but did not send it. I was frustrated because I shared a similar view point to the commenter regarding VW but there we parted company because I found their aggressive tone crass and hypocritical. Rachel, yes we are as you say gentle souls prone to drinking tea and dreaming of a perfect world.

  12. Hear, hear. Of course as readers we do not always agree but there are ways of saying so – or keeping it to yourself! More importantly I wanted to comment to say I am always pleased when there is a new post from you in my reader and I love reading your blog.

  13. I occasionally drop by to read your posts because I enjoy and respect your opinion but rarely comment but I just want to say good on you for posting on this all to prevalent problem!!! Don’t let anyone deter you from expressing an opinion and long may you blog!

  14. The world would be diminished should a person of your values and insight choose to give up. I’m very pleased that you have decided not to.

  15. It is always a good moment for me
    when there is a new blog entry from you. I am thankful that you keep blogging in spite of all the work you have to do. I always find your entries refreshingly open and inspiring. I do not have to agree with every little detail – unnecessary to mention – but it would never have occurred to me that anyone might reproach you of being superficial. I have discovered wonderful authors through you, and I have enjoyed posts where you talked about yourself as well. I am one of those readers who hardly ever leave a reply, but I hope you really do not feel hurt or discouraged by nasty comments. Just feel reassured that your entries mean a lot to many of us.

  16. Very sad to hear this is happening to you. Bullying and the hatefest which is currently prolific on the web, stems from people with a major issue with their own inadequacy. We all love your blog, even those who choose to veil their jealousy in dislike. Rachel, you are an exceptional writer. Please keep going.

  17. So sorry that some people are so rude and cannot appreciate your wholesome outlook on life and culture. You replied to their attacks with wisdom. I am on the verge of turning 70 and your freshness and enthusiasm brightens my day and reminds me to look at life with optimism and joy. SD

  18. Rachel, on the one hand you have given 30 seconds of offense to dozens. On the other, you have introduced Dorothy Whipple and The Shooting Party to hundreds. Blogs like yours are an incredible gift to readers around the world. It was such a revelation to me to find there is an online community devoted to the type of books I love. You’re awesome!

  19. Oh Rachel, people can be vile. Reading is such a subjective, emotional and personal experience and I enjoy reading viewpoints that differ from mine on books I loved, hated, or simply didn’t understand/appreciate. Discourse expands the mind and educates. People who do not accept differing views from their own are the ones who are narrow minded. The world would be a very boring place if we all liked the same thing.

  20. I’m always delighted to see you’ve posted a new blog post, Rachel, and I enjoy your take on books even when we don’t agree. You’ve helped point me to authors like Elizabeth Taylor and Dorothy Whipple and broadened my reading horizons (and bookshelves). Thank you!

  21. I love your posts and I am always happy when I read your interesting notes on a book, on your live, on everything. Please don’t let nasty people influence your writing.

  22. Well said! I am glad you are strong enough to ignore these bullies. I play online bridge occasionally and have had some nasty things said to me whilst actually playing with someone – we can’t all be experts! I am afraid that this upsets me for a time but I will remember what you said if it happens to me again.
    Keep blogging. You have introduced me to some books I would never have read. Thank you.

  23. Everything everybody else has said. THANK YOU for your posts – they are always thought provoking and always welcome. I too love seeing you pop up in my email inbox, and I read everything, though I too seldom post a comment.

    I’ve had a few negative comments on my bookish blog as well, and if they are constructively negative I let them stand. Abusive = delete key. Life is too short for conflict in this area of our lives, which – if you are like me – is meant to provide a safe and stimulating place to talk about the things we love and to meet like-minded people in FRIENDLY debate.

    Keep on posting as you do, and please ignore the sour and bitter ones. They’re in the tiny majority. The rest of us – the too-often-silent majority – obviously appreciate your postings, or we would quietly drop you from our lists, instead of reading your thoughtful musings with sincere pleasure. 🙂

  24. I was so sad to read this. Your blog is a joy to read and I find it utterly bewildering that you have had to face such poisonous people. Reading others’ comments, I am pleased to see that I am not alone in this view. Your posts are stimulating, insightful and beautifully expressed- long may you continue to blog!

  25. Brava, good response to all those trolls out there who live under the Internet “bridges” — rolling around in the muck. I find them everywhere. Vile and hateful, they eventually eat each other. The best advice I’ve found is to delete their comments at their first despicable word. There are too few hours in a day to pollute one’s brain space with this muck, especially when there are so many wonderful books to read — just waiting for our attention. Thank you for your reviews.

  26. Rachel I had no idea you were having so much of this! Poor you – this is all too common on the internet and in life it seems. People just don’t think and they don’t care sometimes. Its difficult when you can’t stop those people from showing up in your space, even when you’ve tried to surround yourself with people who do debate with care. If you ever want someone else to drop over and say shut up I’m your lady, so do let me know – no qualms about getting comment angry for nice people (although way less good at doing it for myself because that is hard).

  27. Easier said than done, but do try to ignore these nasty folks and simply delete their messages. As you say, no one is forcing them to read your blog posts. You have received a plethora of wonderful replies supporting you and encouraging you to continue with your blog Be of good cheer and fob the negativity off to the wind!

  28. Ditto to all of the above! Thank goodness there are people like you who brave the elements to brighten up our days! I love your blog and don’t always post my thoughts, which I now realise how much a quick ‘thank you’ would go to make your day!
    Thank you!

  29. I was sad to see your post but pleased that so many people have already rushed to support you. I really don’t understand what people think they are achieving by being rude and aggressive – it certainly doesn’t make them look good and I can’t imagine that it makes them feel good either. I hope that you are reassured by all the positive comments from readers so far today, and just want to say that yours is one of my favourite blogs; I think you write very well about interesting things, and , like everyone else, I hope you will carry on!

  30. Aww, so sorry to hear that. I can’t understand how the immunity of anonimity makes some people behave in such a mean spirited way. I, for one, always try to do the opposite when commenting on blogs, because I’m aware of how difficult it can be to pour one’s feelings over a piece of written text, and being extra nice is a great way to let the author know you meant well.

    I’ve been following your blog only for a short while, but I love it. I find it very inspiring in more things than books :-D. Hugs to you!

  31. Unfortunately, there are unpleasant people out there who don’t like the fact other people have opinions. As you rightly point out, they don’t *have* to read your blog! I’m so sorry you’ve had to deal with this – you are definitely *not* any of the things they say about you, and even if I didn’t agree with you about a book I would defend to the death your right to have your own opinion and express it!

  32. You’ve aptly described the malicious and hyper-negative comments that some vent. It is a form of bullying. You have introduced me (a retired Californian) to many new books and publishers.
    You have also reminded me of books I’ve already read and loved, and now read again. I admire the fact that you will persevere. Your voice is valued.

  33. Man, Rachel, this really stinks. I know people are passionate about books, but you’d think there are more important things in the world to get worked up about. Your response is perfect and I’m so glad you’re not going to let the meanies out there stop you from blogging about the things you care about and stating your opinions. I add my voice to all the others who’ve said how much they enjoy your blog. It is one of my favorites!

  34. Rachel, I was so sad to read your latest post and hear about all the nasty comments. I love reading your blog! I always find your reviews thoughtful and intelligent and you introduce your followers to so many books that I, for one, certainly would not otherwise have come across – so thank you for that.
    There are some real numpties out there, which is what puts me off engaging more with blogging. But at the same time I admire people like you who have something interesting to share – unlike the cyberbullies who are only sharing their own unpleasantness. I’m glad so many others have leapt to your defence, and I’m really glad you’re going to keep blogging. Looking forward to your next post!
    Slightly off topic but relating to previous posts – last week I read, and loved, Harvest, having read your review. And yesterday, I went to a couple of events at the Daunt Books Festival, which I would not have known about had it not been for the Old Fashioned Girls blog – so thank you for that too. I treated myself to the wonderful Bloomsbury Cookbook, which I’m sure will be right up your street!

  35. I’d like to add my voice to what so many others have said. I love your blog and would be very sad if you chose to stop blogging because of some mean spirited troll.

  36. Rachel, keep up the positive attitude. The people who love throwing negativity at others are everywhere, and it is difficult to believe they have invaded our lovely world of books and reading. But they have, and often under the name Anonymous! I choose not to respond to their posts in any way. Take away their spotlight and perhaps they will crawl back under their rocks.
    I love your posts–especially enjoyed your recent one on being ill, as I have been ill this winter, but not too sick to read! Cheers from Canada.

  37. I’m so sorry to hear about the negativity you received, but so relieved that you have not let it discourage you. I have followed your blog for years. I think you are very articulate and present intelligent reviews. Thanks for taking the time to share with other book lovers!

    1. Rachel, I am truly horrified at some of the comments levelled at you and your lovely, lovely blog. There are many people who think most highly of you. Take heart! Dawn Montgomery

  38. I’m very sorry that you have been having problems with some ignorant people and would like to let you know that I am one, I’m sure among many, who very much enjoys your blog and often seeks out books that you recommend. Please don’t let the negative people put you off.

  39. I follow you all the way from Los Angeles! I find your writing exquisite. I’m a composition professor, so I know good writing. Thank you for the blog.

  40. Yours was one of the very first blogs I ever read, dear Rachel. I believe we started blogging around the same time, you on your delightful island, me far and away across the big pond, with decades of time between our ages – yet, we share many of the same interests in history and books and the gentle things in life. I am sorry for those who breach the boundaries of civility in their comments and pleased as punch that you are still posting. I have learned of so many books I might not otherwise have known of and have a long list of places, both in Great Britain, and here in the States, that I hope to travel to someday – all from you! Thank you.

  41. Sorry to hear you’re having this problem, Rachel. Personally I always enjoy your blog. You have introduced me to some forgotten writers, for which I am very grateful. And you’re an Elizabeth Bowen fan. Sigh, my favourite author. So keep up the great work and ignore the naysayers.

  42. Utterly shocked to hear this Rachel. Also in turn I feel I should be providing more thanks and support in comments – sometimes life overtakes and I start taking the generous gift of bloggers for granted a bit.

    And you especially are a great gift – you write with energy and joie de vie and passion and have a real ‘voice’ and style. It astonishes me that you’ve not been snapped up by a publisher or newspaper or magazine already.

    You have certainly been a patient and graceful endurer – I felt you were unfairly treated in the really early days over issues you discussed such as women and work and also on reading books by persons of colour – yet you reacted with EXEMPLARY grace and goodwill, with a maturity beyond your years and an openness to understand the other point of view unlike some of those who took you to task.

    Please know you are loved and appreciated and have enlarged the reading lives of many people around the world.

  43. Good. Good to read of your sterner stuff. And I will keep reading – I like the challenge and the points of view you offer. Congrats!

  44. Why is it that some negative types feel that it is necessary to be vocal and rude? No one is forcing anyone to read your blog. For all of the positive comments that you see, there are many more who just quietly read, enjoy and say nothing. The negative Nellys just can’t deal with it if someone doesn’t think exactly the way they do. Their path is narrow as their opinion. I love it when someone sees something in a book that I didn’t and I find your reviews fascinating and they have so much depth. You encouraged me to read Gilead, a book that I found profound and moving. I was able to share that book with a young man who was going through a difficult time and he loved the moving tale. You have no idea how many people you have reached. There are just some people who decide to be disagreeable and they are. They like not liking anything. I’m glad you ignore those types. I certainly do.

  45. I think you are just fantastic! Shame on them all. No one is forcing them to read what you have written



  46. Oh Rachel how awful for you. I’m so sorry to hear this, as though we all know it’s just bullying by sad, messed-up people, it is a very unpleasant thing to greet you when you look forward to reading your comments. But as everyone has already said, you are a really great reviewer — one of the best in a very good field, I’d say. So chin up, and keep up the good work. x

  47. Rachel – I am shocked and saddened that you have to put up with some people’s aggression and lack of manners. I love your blog – you’ve introduced me to British artists like Ravilious and Paul Nash and I love the way you obviously take a lot of joy in life. You write about your love for the books, London, the countryside, tea and toast – I like that a lot. I rarely comment but always enjoy your posts. It is sad that some people obviously cannot express a difference in opinion in a civilised manner.

  48. So glad you are not discouraged by these bullies. I too thought you might be signalling a withdrawal
    But you are keeping the faith in every way. Your writing gives so much pleasure and as a long time,now retired, teacher of English lit to secondary students, I especially enjoy your comments on your teaching
    Those young minds are very fortunate in their teacher. As we readers are in your sharing of your bookish thoughts

  49. Poor you! There are some pretty bitter people out there, with too much time on their hands! It’s really just jealousy though. Snarky comments about my clothes, book collection etc is something I’ve learnt to accept and deal with in person, and not let bother me. It’s important to realise such negativity generally stems from an envious soul. You write a brilliant blog which so many people enjoy -the only thing worth spending time thinking about.

  50. Rachel, Do not worry too much about what they say, they are cowards and I for one love your blog. It’s sad that people have to hide behind the annonimity of the Internet. You are wise and witty and you have opened up a whole new world of wonderful books to me, for which I will be forever grateful. Little people with small minds make me furious and I hope they will not deter you from your wonderful mission. Please do not let them, put you off or forget how much you are appreciated.

    With much love and support


    Sent from my iPad

  51. Anyone who could describe you as “uneducated” is probably not even reading the posts on which they put a comment. Such a claim has about as much credibility as saying that Mozart was tone deaf.

  52. It amazes me that people have the time and energy to be so obnoxious, there are so many much better things to do than spend precious moments trying to belittle another person or generally ruin there day by being so rude. your response is spot on. It’s such a shame that anonymity brings out the bully in some people and that they can’t remember that if you can’t say anything nice (or at least constructive) it’s better to say nothing at all.

  53. I am so very very sorry that something that gives me such joy ( your blog) can be a target for the hate and nastiness that you describe.

    Please know that you are doing a wonderful job and I read all of your posts. I dont have a lot of time to go searching for lots of other blogs on books, and your is one of the best.

    If it will help, I will try to comment more, so my positive supportive feelings can drown out the jerks.

    Keep writing!


  54. I love your blog and have got such joy from reading it. You must avoid toxic people. Look how many people love your blog and ignore the others. As you say no one is forcing them to read it. I have got such pleasure and find your book reviews so wonderful. You have reached the southern tip of Africa and made such a difference to my reading life Thank you so much.

  55. So sorry to hear about the nasty comments you’ve been receiving – what is wrong with these people. I really enjoy reading your Blog and hope that you continue to enjoy writing it despite the unpleasant minority.

  56. Rachel, I am one of the followers referred to by Country Mouse who just “quietly read, enjoy and say nothing”. I am deeply shocked and saddened by the experience you describe. You are much appreciated by the vast majority.

  57. (Possible duplicate post–sorry!)

    This is reason number 638 why I don’t have a blog, despite how much I enjoy reading and writing about books. But if you think the comments on books can be thoughtless, rude, or just plain ghastly, don’t look at the political blogs–my God, you wonder where sympathy, empathy, compassion, or just good manners have gone!

    Anyway, I hope this wave of negative comments will not cause you to give up
    book blogging and just being a kind and warm-hearted person.

  58. You have a lovely blog; have introduced me to new books & authors; you would be missed; so please know you have many more admirers than haters.

  59. It takes all kinds to make a world, even jerks. I was told once that my “lack of appreciation for beauty of the mind” made it almost impossible to call me human at all. All because I didn’t like “The Picture of Dorian Gray”. It shook my confidence and made me wonder if I had any “right” to be writing a blog about books for a while. I decided that if people questioned my opinions in a respectful way I’d be happy to hear from them, but those who are disrespectful make themselves irrelevant and need no response. You have every human being’s right to say what you think. Those who don’t respect that right are unimportant. Be encouraged. You’re doing just fine.

  60. I used to have a British pen pal whose letters in my mailbox would make feel connected to her as well as the parts of myself that wanted to grow, so I happily devoured her words each time. You are doing the same for me, and I look forward to the nourishment Book Snob provides.

  61. Your blog is terrific. There are a lot of haters out there. Meanness comes from a very dark place and a darkness of spirit. I’d pity them if the vitriol didn’t spill onto me. That’s not acceptable so I block them from my mind if I can. By the way, I’d love to hear your take on Henry Green if you’ve read him. I adore him.

  62. Your blog brightens my day. You introduced me to “Persephone Books” – couldn’t imagine my life without them now! You made me read “Then Magnificent Spinster”, of which I had never heard. Your teaching posts always make me think about my own teaching, and more than once I admired your maturity. Please know that your writing is a constant source of pleasure, and don’t give up!

  63. I’m sorry you have had to deal with this. And I’m also surprised because, like you, I’m used to thinking of readers as a gentle, civilized bunch.
    And it’s a pity, because a lively discussion is such fun if everybody behaves. Do you remember the ‘Fanny wars’? I didn’t agree with the anti-Fanny camp but I did enjoy reading their comments. That was a spirited but very polite and good-natured discussion.
    Keep up the good work, and don’t let the nasty comments get to you. (Easier said than done, I know.) Your posts are always eagerly anticipated.

  64. Please continue you insightful posts. In my regional town there is no independent bookshop. I rely on newspaper reviews and blogs like yours for reading ideas. Your posts have prompted me to read things I would not have tried otherwise. They have also made me reevaluate books I’ve already read. Distressingly, I think as a society we are becomming less inhibited and generally less kind. Once it was considered good manners to hold back. Now everyone seems to share every intimacy and passing thought whether invited or not. You are right to say it is worse on line. However, I’m not sure that these people are actually “nice” in the flesh. I think the anonymity of the internet just gives them permission to show their real selves. Perhaps they should reflect on whether their observations are achieving the desired affect.

  65. I just wanted to say how much I agree with all the other lovely comments on this post; I love reading your updates and reviews, and you’ve led me to discover and enjoy a number of really great books and authors I would never otherwise have come across.

    It’s such a shame that some people use it as an opportunity to insult, abuse and bully others. Good for you for rising above it – and I hope all the positive comments this article have made you smile and understand how much we enjoy your blog!

  66. I read comments very seldom because I too am appalled by the negativity. I have never had a blog because I know I am not thick-skinned enough to handle the kind of abuse that is all too common on the internet. As a reader and your reader I am so grateful for your blog. I always enjoy reading your well-thought-out reviews. In the old days one was taught to say nothing if one had nothing nice to say. I think this is a good rule for commenting on personal blogs.

  67. Hello, I have been subscribed to your blog for a good while now and always look forward to your posts. It seems to me that there is such a very narrow understanding by a lot of these mean spirited types , of what book bloggers are trying to do in the first place. You never set yourself up as a professional critic (and even if you had ,we all disagree with critics as well whether their opinions are supposed to be erudite or not )~ all you , and most book loving bloggers are doing is sharing your own experience and thoughts on the books you read. If nothing else, you will have introduced many authors to people who might otherwise never know about them ,but also something very valuable and interesting to me is, simply listening to or reading what someone’s personal perceptions are about any given book. You can learn a lot that you might otherwise not have seen yourself . An open exchange of information whether one agrees with or thinks it knowledgeable or not, is the most wonderful aspect. We all have room to learn more and look at things from different angles. We should respect one another and encourage free and open platform for ideas and thoughts. I know you already know that people who use (hide behind) the internet as a vehicle to insult , abuse and hurt are very miserable people themselves and although very difficult to deal with , can you imagine being one of them?! What must their daily lives be like? I cannot imagine the depth of their unhappiness if they vent their nastiness on all who they come into contact with ! So many people love reading your posts and it never matters whether we agree on each book ~ You are only ever offering your personal experience and that is always going to be subjective ~ how could be be otherwise for any of us? It does not matter if it is books, or music , film or whether you prefer dogs to cats ect~ Please do not let these miserable people prevent you from sharing. There would be many people who would miss you. (this same thing recently happened to another book blogger and she was so upset she really thought she would stop but was persuaded otherwise by far more readers who enjoy her )

  68. I’m amazed; this is one place I wouldn’t have thought would get nasty comments. Why? Because you seem like such a nice girl and all you are doing is giving your opinion – in a very polite way – which is what all bloggers are doing, looking to share with like-minded souls.

  69. I can tell you that this American gal would find her world sadly lacking if I didn’t receive your postings. I can hardly wait to read your thoughts on a book, and then turn right around and read it for myself. When you review a book I’ve read, I am always interested to see if your opinion matches my own. My husband and I will be in England at the end of May for a couple of weeks staying in National Trust cottages. I especially love reading English lit. while I’m IN England. We love England, and your travel posts and your review posts help us feel connected to our beloved 2nd home.

  70. You poor thing! You say it doesn’t bother you, but you’d be superhuman if negativity didn’t upset you a tiny bit. But look at all the many positive comments! I guess the tiny minority of unpleasantness is a side effect of your popularity, more’s the pity. (Of course there is room for people disagreeing with your opinions – as with any reviewer – but the way you describe it is obviously not the right and proper way to do that.)

  71. Rachel, I’m sure you appreciate all the many many positive comments above. It is unfortunate that the internet has inadvertently given license to those trolls who have nothing better to do than attack those more talented than themselves, orwhatever group they happen to hate that particular week. Move on, my dear, your essay and these comments say it all.

  72. I appreciate it very much that you make so much effort to “give” to us readers. I was horrified to read that there are people out there who use your blog to express their rage. As you put it so well, if they don’t like what you write there is the delete button. Which is what civilized readers do when they don’t enjoy a book, they put it down. More power to you.

  73. Dear Rachel

    I am so grateful you write your blog and appreciate the perception and passion in your posts.

    It is possible to disagree and to present different viewpoints in an engaging and lively discussion which everybody can enjoy, but if it is a personal attack on the writer then that is totally unacceptable.

    You are the most generous of bloggers and you always reply to comments which is a lovely quality.


    1. Well, I’m last to the part here, so most of what I would like to say has already been said.

      I do disagree with people in my comments here and there, when I disagree, and I do sometimes point things out when I think people are wrong about something. I always worry about how this will be taken since so few comments ever do this, but I never try to be rude about it. In fact, I usually try to be funny about it, but you know how hard that is to do in a comment.

      Have you tried marking their comments as spam? That should put their future comments into the spam pile so you don’t have to read them again. It can also be kind of fun to read them aloud to friends, especially after a few drinks. I got a really negative email from a student this year that gave us lots of good times in the faculty room. I wish I could print it on my own blog it was so much fun, but I can’t do that for professional/ethical reasons.

      Finally, keep on keeping on. You can count me as a long time fan of Book Snob.

  74. Hello Rachel, I am a different Sue, but I totally echo Sue at 9.03 above. Love your blog and I have read so many good things after finding out about them here.
    Best wishes,

  75. I’m sorry I have been mostly absent of late (life and work being difficult) but I had to come out of lurkdom to say how shocked I am that anyone would leave a nasty comment here. Of course you are a lovely person–bright and vivacious and your love of books is truly infectious. Please ignore those nasty commenters. As you can see, I am not the only one to think you are fabulous! 🙂

  76. Dear Rachel – please don’t let these hateful bullies stop you from blogging. As everyone above has said your blog is a joy and inspiration. Every time I read a review that you have written – always so carefully considered – or one of your wonderful travel pieces, I think of you as being an incredibly talented writer (and teacher) – just keep at it, you’re brilliant! Jenny

  77. my jaw literally dropped in amazement. i can’t believe it. someone criticizing you? it must be spam or bots or whatever they are called.

  78. maybe you ought to start the word verification thing to eliminate those comments before they appear. it is much easier now – numbers not words and it just takes a second to do.

  79. Just to help get the number of support messages up to 100! 93 people have already said all that can be said. Your blog is wonderful, your comments interesting, your writing superb and your ability to enthuse remarkable. Don’t be put off by the sad abusive time-wasters.

  80. I have recently found your blog and love reading it! Your pupils are very lucky to have you. I have put some of the books you have written about on my ‘to be read’ list and am so grateful for bloggers like you who introduce titles to us which we might not otherwise pick up on. Please don’t stop blogging. I also enjoyed your recent photos from the V and A Museum, and other places you have visited. Keep up the good work!!

  81. Rachel…completely off topic… are you still in the Womens’ Institute? I was just reading in the online Guardian that the Queen has given the Pope some honey produced by her Buckingham palace bees. Which led me to think of bees in London, which led me to recall a post you did on your London WI group and their mission for bee rescue! ( I have a very non-linear mind!) Anyways, just thought I’d ask.

    1. Hi Merenia, no I’m not! but I should re-join, as I miss it. I’m not sure if anything did ever happen about getting bees on the V&A roof…I’ll have to find out!

  82. I am really going to echo what everyone else has said. Although I was unaware you were getting such comments. I do wonder if these people could spend the time perhaps reflecting at what they are doing, and whether they would like it themselves. I am unsure what satisfaction it gives these people. As someone who was bullied at school and in recent years in the workplace, I am very wary on who comments and what they say on my blog. On the odd occasions I have had to hit the delete/spam button with relish.

  83. Dear Ms BookSnob, I am late reading this. I am really shocked you have been on the receiving end of these unpleasant comments, I cannot believe anyone would get nasty about your reviews. I know the very aspirational blogs about fashion and homes where people show off their purchases etc attract a lot of jeaIous comments and woe betide any fashionista who posts a photo of herself wearing fur or with piles of Hermes boxes but discussions of literature?!!! love your blog and your reviews, and also the analysis you set out above on the internet trolling phenomenon is one of the best I have read. Love the ending, I agree, some people really should come with an exit button like an internet page!

  84. My dear Rachel

    Everyone else has already said what I would want to say. I will not add to their kind, wise and spot on comments but know I agree. Sad that this has happened to you. I can honestly say that I have never suffered in this way and can only come to the conclusion that is because if you read Random you will know that I am a self opinionated old bag who takes no prisoners!! You are a gentler, kinder person and so you are a target for their vile abuse. Just think how sad and miserable they must be inside. A pox on them all xx

  85. I discovered your blog for the first time tonight. You are one of /Alicia Paulsen’s blog buddies. I actually wrote down a list of 12 books I am going to read after reading your pieces on them. A couple from my childhood I will hunt up again. This has been such a treat for me tonight,I take solace in reading and our house is in need of a good dose of ‘God given grace. We have our daughter with us; she has end stage liver disease.I just need to find a happy spot on the computer and I thank you for being there for me’!

    1. Thank you so much for your lovely message. I am so sorry for your situation and I am glad being reminded of some favourite books has brought you some comfort and pleasure at such a sad time. I’ll be thinking of you.

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