Wednesday, February 5, 2014


Wednesday, February 5, 2014 with 21 comments
I don't know about you, but I love those colorful, off the cuff reviews that take ranting and raving over a book to the next level.  I love that those reviewers aren't afraid to say exactly how they feel...that they're not worried of who they might potentially offend with their remarks.  I don't even mind that their colorful wording may include a few (or a hundred) swear words.

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.

What about alternatives to swearing, i.e. made-up swear words or bleeped out curse words, both in books and in reviews?

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...


  1. Nice discussion! In books, I don't mind swearing, especially if it's an adult book. Sometimes, a curse just really fits in the conversation! But I hate that *unt curse, too. It just sounds nasty. I'd be uncomfortable seeing them in middle-grade books though!

    But I try not to put curse words in my reviews because I think I have young readers, and sometimes I review middle-grade books so I expect parents/teachers also visit my blog looking for books for kids so I try to keep my blog curse-free.

  2. This is a super interesting discussion! (Awesome, btw.) I personally don't mind reading the odd swear words in books. I don't like it when all the characters do is swear...I feel like the author maybe doesn't have a very big vocabulary??? But made-up swear-words are. the. worst. NO THANK YOU. Like you said, we give swear words their power, so what's the difference between making up a swear word than to just saying the actual word? I personally don't swear because that's how I've been brought up. But I don't have a problem reading it on blogs/books, especially if it's in good humour.

  3. I quite like when people swear in reviews, if the review calls for it. Just like I quite like swearing in books, when the scene calls for it. Swearing just for the sake of it is silly, but when you feel strongly about something or when it's in context to the situation, then why the heck not?!

    I think the only review I've ever sworn in was my review of Fifty Shades, because I despised it enough to swear profusely. I won't swear in a review of an average book, because I won't feel invested enough in it to have that sort of reaction. And I probably won't swear in a review of a book I liked because I'm too busy CAPPING AWESOME PARTS and fangirling :P

    But yeah, if a blogger swears in a review then it doesn't bother me. Swearing just for the sake of it though (like 'this f*cking book was f*cking good and I f*cking enjoyed it) is tedious and something I'd roll my eyes at. Same with swearing in a book - the odd word or so is good and realistic, but characters swearing every five seconds just gets stupid.

  4. Don't mind swearing in books or reviews. I loathe made up curse words in young adult books though. I think it was Anne Aguirre's Enclave that had a bunch of made up cw's and I kept scream at my book to just swear properly. I will downgrade out of annoyance. We all know your swearing so just say it. On the other hand I don't mind swear slang like Shiz for sh*t or F'ckin for well you know. Great post!

  5. LOVE this post!
    I swear way too much. I've had to cut down because of my kids and I have started saying 'what the frack' instead. As for reviews, I don't mind swear words. I like them even. It lets me know the book brought out a strong emotion in them whether it's love or hate. I cuss in my reviews. Mostly my love or my hate books. As long as the swearing isn't vulgar I don't mind at all!
    I love swearing in YA, because almost all teens cuss.

  6. I completely love this post. I'm someone who swear all the time so I really don't mind if a book has it or a reviewer is doing it in a review. Personally, sometimes I find reviews with some swearing give it a little more oomph! Also, I find it's much more believable in YA books because like you both said, when are there teenagers NOT swearing? It's understandable to be a little wary of publishers disapproving of it in reviews but if it's not done distastefully it really shouldn't matter that much.

  7. Great post! I actually am not a big curser in reviews, but I think I have done it before...? I can't remember for sure, but if I did it was because there was no other way to express that particular thought. That's how I imagine any curse words will make it into my reviews, and like April mentioned, it's more likely to be for a book I purchase and not one I got for review. In real life I'm partial to the F word. :) I like to say it with lots of emphasis and it mostly comes out when driving. haha

  8. I don't mind cursing in books, I'm an adult and I think I can handle it, lol. I curse a lot myself when I'm pissed off, but I never seem to be able to curse in reviews. I love reading reviews with lots of gifs and curses, but I don't love making them... ( I don't know if that makes any sense).

  9. GREAT post! I am a teen and I'm in high school so I would have to agree with it making the book seem more realistic when the teens swear. Although I'm not huge on swearing myself (except when I'm seriously passionate about something or just really pissed) my best friend was a sailor in another life. I love it when there's cussing in reviews because it makes me listen. I know they mean what they say.
    Lovely chat!

  10. I have no problem with cursing, but that's probably because I have a filthy mouth. Lol.

  11. I have no problem with cursing in books, as long as it's not overdone. But I'm not a huge fan of the whole "made up" curse words thing.

    I don't mind reading book reviews with curse words in them, either, but it really depends on the review. It should match with the book, the genre, and the overall personality of the blogger. Should you curse while reviewing middle grade books? Probably not. Should you curse while reviewing New Adult books? Sure, go ahead! Fuck it. ;)

    Personally, while I used to sometimes stick them in there when I first started reviewing, I've since stopped doing it pretty much altogether. I decided that it just didn't really fit with my personality, even though I do swear a lot in person, it just wasn't sounding authentic online. And I'm slightly concerned with the "looking professional" aspect of it, as well. And it was super annoying to go in and fix reviews before adding them to Amazon, so I basically just decided to stop altogether.

    Occasionally I'll still use one here or there if it's really warranted, but mostly I just try to describe my feelings in other ways. But I totally don't care if other bloggers do it! Sometimes it makes their reviews even better!

  12. I don't mind some swearing as long as it fits the context and tone, and isn't glaring. I don't swear in my reviews, but sometimes it's warranted.

  13. Although I do curse but mostly when no one is hearing ! Am shy that way. But I don't mind curse words here and there in reviews or in books because cursing is a natural expression. I myself don't use curse words while reviewing books because I don't feel its necessary!

    - Gayatri @ Notorious Writer

  14. Love this! I curse and I don't mind when other people do. However it also doesn't bother me in the slightest if an author uses words like bleeping or crap or something similar...except for ridiculous made up words or words like shuck...that is so close to the actual word that you may as well just say it. And I'm okay with a complete absence of cursing or slang substitutes no matter the genre.

    Thing is, I don't curse in mixed company or around my or anyone's children. While I don't find it offensive, many others do and I respect that. I don't want my kindergartner saying the f word for instance at school or church, wherever, and offend someone or get into trouble. Whereas if she says freak or crap, etc it is at least less likely. Little kids just don't fully understand how to discern when certain things are okay and when they aren't so I don't cuss in front of my children for that reason. And because they see it as being naughty and are likely to do it every chance they get. Which I believe makes a person appear unintelligent.

    I used to work in retail and it pissed me off something fierce when customers would swear right in front of other customers. Grandmas and kids and preachers, who knew? So very disrespectful. But, while a blog is certainly a public forum, it is also the blogger's personal site. So to me that means a person is in the blogger's territory. The blogger didn't make you visit their website or spew their profanity in the grocery line, so get over it, ya know?

    As far as publishing and professionalism goes, there isn't a single publisher out there, aside from Christian publishers, etc, that doesn't have a multitude of books published in their name containing swearing. Although, that's not to say that cussing for the shock value, for the sake of it, or because you literally have no better vocabulary should not be viewed as unprofessional.

    In short, it's complicated. ;) By the by, I find the c word absolutely revolting. Blech!

  15. I don't mind curse words in the books I read if they flow with the dialog and don't feel that they are added only to make the book 'edgy' or relatable to teens. As for reviews--I typically do not like curse words in the reviews I read. I've not ever included a curse word in a review of mine--it's never felt appropriate for the reviews that I write. That's not to say it wouldn't fit in wonderfully with someone else's. I can't really think of any reviews I've read recently that did use that type of language. Typically I see it more in discussion posts. I can take it or leave it.

  16. I don't really mind if there's swearing in books or in reviews. In books, it definitely makes things more realistic. I actually don't mind made up swearwords either, as long as it's a book set in the future or a high fantasy or something (because it makes sense that language would have evolved). So, I actually thought it was fine in the Across the Universe series haha.

    In reviews, I'm okay with it as long as it's used in a semi-constructive way or as part of a rant or something :)

  17. Very interesting topic. I actually don't mind reading books with curse words in them. Maggie Steifvater actually wrote a post about why she does and how its about evoke emotions. On the flip side when I write reviews I have a tendency not to. My bf has two little sisters, so while I used to curse more I do not anymore since we are around them all the time. If I cut it out of my vocab then it does not flow was easily while I am writing. So I have nothing against it but I have changed my use of curse words since I am around little kids!

    Ashley @ The Quiet Concert

  18. I loved reading both of your thoughts on this! I agree on many points and still differ on others, actually, but only SLIGHTLY. I don't curse. I might think it of course, but I don't. However, I don't mind if someone else does it. Gillian (from Writer of Wrongs, LOVE HER) curses in her reviews and posts and I don't mind it a bit. She actually makes me laugh with her gifs and sentences that include them. They make an impact like you said. But I don't think I would like it if a person used the F word REPEATEDLY in my presence. Make sense? Sometimes, fine. My friends cuss, I don't get bent out of shape. For making it look unprofessional, I think it depends on how it's done. I think it doesn't matter if you're really expressing yourself. But if you do it just to do it, well that makes you look illiterate. Now for books, *eye roll*. I don't like a lot of cursing in my books, but don't baby me either. I like it when they imply it. In the Gallagher Girls, they don't curse, but they do mention that they said one, they just don't say which one and I thought that was handled well.

    Fantastic post, ladies! Very thought-provoking :)

  19. This is such a fun discussion! I do not curse, but I don't really mind it in a review or in a book, as long as it's true to the characters/situations. I enjoyed seeing each of your perspectives! So fun that you can have these with your co-blogger.

  20. This post had me cracking up. Frankly, I have the mouth of a sailor. I try to reign it in, but when I'm at home or out with my friends, watch out. I can't even imagine having to bite my tongue at home around kids. Although I'm sure you just get used to it, after a while. So, yeah, swearing in books, on blogs, in reviews doesn't bother me in the slightest. Sometimes the only way to truly express yourself is by swearing.

    So with you on made up swear words. I just finished The Real Prom Queens of Westfield High and the main character is called an "elf ucker". I seriously ragged on that in my review so much. Saying ucker doesn't change the meaning of what you are really saying! It drove me crazy.

    Great post! I love this new feature you guys are doing with the conversations! So fun.

  21. This post is fucking awesome. (Does that answer the question as to whether swearing in reviews bothers me? ) Rock on girls and let the dirty words fly...


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