But I know that some people do mind. That they find it unprofessional. So I asked April what she thought. And here's how that conversation went:
How do you feel about swearing, in general?
April: I feel silly saying I like it, but I guess I do. I used swear pretty often, but I've had to cut down a lot since becoming a mom. I still swear often, but I have to be crafty about it. My husband and I just call each other first letters of bad words. It's a whole system we've taken years to perfect. Swearing is a way to express yourself. Sometimes a book doesn't just suck. It F'ing sucks!
Jen: Heh, so true. And I like swearing, too. I've always cussed like a sailor. I'm better around my 5yo, but when I'm at the office, I tend to curse more. But I've always tried to keep the swearing out of my reviews because there might be impressionable youth reading this stuff, ya know? Not that I think they'd mind so much, but I'm sure their parents might. Turns out you might alienate some of your audience by using swear words, but I would not be one of those people.
Do you mind cursing in books?
April: Nope. Not at all. I especially when I see some in YA because lets be real. Swearing and Teenagers go together like PB and J. I swore the most when I was in HS. For me, it makes it more realistic.
Jen: Me neither. Swearing is kind of natural at that age, I think, so it does tend to make some dialogue seem more realistic when it's included. Now, I don't think cursing should be thrown into a story just for the sake of it, but I agree that it does have its place. Obviously, not everyone feels the same because from 2000 to 2009, 1,291 books were challenged due to "offensive language". [source]
Do you mind cursing in reviews?
April: No. I like reviews with curse words. They add flavor. lol. Again, I look at it as a way to express yourself. I swear mostly when I'm feeling heated or excited about something. If you're swearing about a book, I'm going to perk up and listen!
Jen: Right? Those are the reviews I tend to pay particular attention to because it means the book solicited some kind of emotion from the reader/reviewer. I know there are ways to express yourself that don't entail using swear words, but sometimes, cursing is just the best way, the fastest way to get your point across.
Does a person swearing in a review make them seem unprofessional to you?
April: Yes and No. While I have no problem with swearing, publishers might. I'm more likely to swear in one of my reviews if it's a book I purchased vs an arc I received from a publisher. Because I'm afraid I will be viewed as unprofessional. Do I do it? yeah, sometimes. I think the context of how a swear word is used is important. Like if I read a post that said "I hated this book, it fucking sucks!" That to me seems a little unprofessional and negative. If I read a post that said... "This book didn't work for me, because I couldn't connect with the main MC, she drove me fucking crazy" That to me, is okay, because yes, it's the F word, but it's being used in a constructive way. Does that make sense?
Jen: It does make sense. But I can understand how a publisher might see it as unprofessional, and that's another reason I try to keep the swearing to a minimum...I'm sure it doesn't look very good to the publishers I'm reviewing on behalf of. But I leave it out for the same reason when I'm reviewing books I purchased myself if I don't find that it's absolutely necessary to convey my point. However, if I see cursing from another reviewer, I don't automatically assume that they're unprofessional. I think I judge myself a little harsher than I do others.
As such, does it really matter, as we bloggers/amateur reviewers are not paid professionals?
April: That depends. We as bloggers are not paid to read and review books. So therefore we have the freedom to promote or demote them any way we choose. It's our blogs, our rules! However, a publisher can look at a list of book requests and approve whoever they want to. If they found our reviews to be unprofessional, they could pass us by. So does it matter? If it matters to you, then yes maybe. It's a gamble. I'd be curious to have a publishers point of view on this subject.
Jen: Ah, good point. It only matters if we still want to matter to the publishers who can deem us professional or unprofessional.
April: I hate made up swear words but bleeping is okay. I sometimes drop symbols into my reviews to make up for a swear word. Because at first glance it's not as offensive and plus then I don't have to edit it out when I transfer my review to amazon. I'm not down with made up swear words though. Don't make up a word, we all know what your'e trying to say. So either say it, or bleep it. It's like in music. Example, Akon's song I want to "LOVE" you. The video takes place in a strip club, love isn't exactly what's going on here. Let's not get ridiculous.
Jen: I despise made-up swear words, too. Because regardless of what word you use, the connotation is the same. The intent to say the dirty word is still there, but you've dumbed it down or made it cutesy so that it doesn't seem as harsh. You are your words...stand behind them. As such, don't make up curse words. It's just annoying. What I don't mind, though, is if in the course of a story, the author uses "he cursed" or otherwise indicates a swear that wasn't written out in the text of the book like, "at that, he uttered a swear that would make a grown man embarrassed" or something along those lines.
What are some examples of this that you really liked or really loathed?
April: The Across the Universe Trilogy by Beth Revis. Loved those books but Frex and Frexing. Really? I wonder what word that was a substitution for. Pointless much? Just use the word, I promise my eyes won't explode.
Jen: That one bothered me, too! I've never liked any, honestly, so I'll just list the two most notable: bleep for just about every curse in Kiersten White's Paranormalcy series and shucking, shuck-face, etc., from The Maze Runner books by James Dashner.
What is one swear word that you absolutely can't stand seeing in a book or review? Or anywhere for that matter?
April: I know a ton of my girl friends hate the C word. Dare I say it? It rhymes with hunt. Personally this word doesn't bother me if it's used as an insult. But when it's used to describe lady bits in a sex scene. No thank you.
Jen: God, I hate that word. There are just some words that no matter how you use them, they are just nasty. It bothers me no matter which meaning is implied. I'm sure the word most people would say is the one that rhymes with luck, but I'm actually kind of comfortable with that one. Like I said, we give words the power they have, so if we continue to use a swear and make it more mundane and less shocking, we've taken away that power. Unless of course your intent was to be shocking, in which case, it will mean what it means in the moment.
So, dear readers, how do you feel about cursing? Would you be offended to see a curse word here and there in our posts? Would you be a part of that group we would alienate by doing so? Or do you prefer those emotional, ranty reviews that thrive on cursing and GIFs? Do tell...