Should We Read Books Which Are Deemed ‘Problematic’ or not?

This post may ruffle a few feathers, but I honestly wanted to write about this. This has been on my mind for quite a while, and although I initially hesitated, as the topic is quite sensitive, I want to know the thoughts of my readers as well. So, let’s begin.

There are quite a few books that I have read and loved which have been called out for being problematic. The following books are some examples.

  1. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor & Park

I read Eleanor and Park a long time ago and I loved it the first time I read it. I found Eleanor relatable. At that point in time, I didn’t pay much attention to the parts which were later called out for being problematic, as I held dear the lovable parts of the story and the characters. I won’t spoil anything for those who haven’t read it but suffice it to say, that this book contains racism and slut-shaming.

2. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

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I totally agree that the book is problematic but I still loved the story.

These are just two books that I have read which I found controversial, but there are countless more popular books which have been called problematic. The thing with problematic books is that there may be problematic aspects, but there may be parts of the book which may be fairly engaging and interesting. The issue then arises is whether to shun the book completely or bring to light the problematic parts and make the readers aware of them.

I believe that if an author includes a racist, sexist or any other problematic thing in his/her book, we, as readers, must bring the same to everyone’s attention. Authors are, after all, humans, too and are flawed.  They too may be subject to prejudices and the same may reflect in their books. This is not to say that racism, sexism, or cultural misappropriation in books is justified and such intolerant and discriminatory stuff in books must never be suppressed. Books are a guide to knowledge and hate, spread through books, if unchecked, will be harmful in the future. Hence, we must never shy from calling out anything problematic in a book we read, however popular it is.

What do you guys think? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!


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  1. I think if you’re aware that a book is problematic, it’s fine to read it? I wouldn’t particularly want to give my money to authors I know are problematic, so I’d probably wind up borrowing their books, but as long as you don’t gloss over the fact, I think that’s fine. Of course, everyone has their opinions on this so. It’s an important conversation to have though, in my opinion.

    1. I agree! We shouldn’t gloss over the problematic stuff.

  2. If I make a list of books I read and loved say five years ago, I am pretty sure quarter of them would have something problematic. It is a process of learning along the way, and accepting some of our faves are problematic. It is fine to like aspects of a book, but if we remain silent or deny the fact that other aspects of the book IS offensive or inappropriate, then it is definitely not right.

    1. I agree with what you say! We should definitely not stay silent about problematic aspects of a book.

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