Awkward! Guest Lecturer Totally Knows You Gave Their Book Two Stars on GoodReads


By Sophie Stachurski

When you were a kid, your parents marveled at the fact that you always had your nose stuck in a book. You rejected flashy technology; never asking for an iPad or the latest iteration of the Nintendo DS but instead your very own Amazon Kindle™ which miraculously still hasn’t stopped working. After nuclear weapons ravage our planet, the cockroaches left behind will be able to choose between the Babysitters Club novels you downloaded in your youth and the more mature selections you indulge in now as their post-apocalyptic entertainment. Either way, reading has always been your haven, providing you a much-needed escape from the real world and all of the terrible things it demands from you like sending emails or having to download an app to do just about anything in the godforsaken age of modernity. 

Look, I really hate to tell you this but that isn’t true anymore. Not even books are safe for you in this day and age.

You remember that book you had to read for your AXLE class on feminist chess strategy? The one you gave two stars on GoodReads because giving it one star just felt too mean even though you felt no remorse calling it “uninspired” and a “piece of garbage that belongs only on the shelves of Dante’s sixth circle of hell”? Yeah, your professor is actually close acquaintances with its author and she’s coming in to give a guest lecture on it this week. 

Talk about a total whammy!

But hey, maybe this won’t be so bad after all. Like there’s definitely zero chance that the author is going to mention your review in any way at all. That would be so totally unprofessional. Just hope and pray that Kayla, the little wannabe Colleen Hoover who sits next to you, doesn’t raise her hand at the end of the presentation and ask what the biggest challenge she faces as an author is.

Wait. Kayla did in fact just do that. What a suck up. That question won’t even help you write your essay about the real-world applications of the Queen’s Gambit opening. It’s okay, though. Just because she asked that doesn’t mean the author’s going to bring up getting bad reviews. All authors should go into the industry knowing that criticism is just a part of writing —

Oh, she just said that the hardest part of being a writer is the critics. And now she is starting to reference the most recent GoodReads review she got on the book you’re discussing. There were only six reviews when you wrote yours, she’s definitely talking about the one you wrote. “Uninspired,” check. “Piece of garbage,” check. She even brought up the part where you describe how you wanted to go back in time and break into the author’s house and delete their manuscript and burn every chess set they own so they never look at those little pawns and think of the glass ceiling they represent ever again.

I wasn’t going to mention that last part to save you a little bit of your reputation, but she really just went for it, huh. Well, it can’t get much worse, can it?

Yikes, wrong again. She totally just mentioned you by first and last name and is now describing your GoodReads profile picture in great detail. When you set it as that picture of you from high school with the flower crown Snapchat filter, you thought it was really funny, unique and ironic but the way she is just absolutely going in on your choice in braces color is definitely going to leave a psychological mark. It’s not like you thought anyone was ever going to pay attention to what your GoodReads profile picture was, of all things. Your only friends on that website are that girl from your summer internship you don’t talk to anymore, terrible Kayla, acclaimed indie singer-songwriter Lucy Dacus and your aunt who you had to block after you started logging a few too many published WattPad fanfictions. 

Everyone’s looking at you now… What are you going to do? You could just ignore it, open your computer and browse Free People’s sale section so that everyone around you knows you have style but in a totally humble and middle class way and also that you are definitely not bothered by the fact that a middle-aged woman wearing clogs is trying to start a fight with you. That’s a good option. Whatever you do, definitely don’t engage with the guest lecturer.

Okay, it seems like you have chosen to engage. This is not looking good, you definitely should stop doing that. Please, return to your seat and get back down. You getting up into the author’s face is not going to change the fact that she thinks her book is amazing and that your review was “out of pocket.” 

Ouch — you didn’t have to hit her! And she definitely didn’t have to hit back!

There are definitely phones being taken out to record you, did you by any chance happen to wear anything that might conceal your identity so that people don’t try to email your employers when this inevitably ends up on TikTok? Okay… I guess you can try making a run for it?

Yeah, that’s good. Out the door! Your Doc Marten loafers are only halfway broken in but you can worry about the blisters later. Just keep running, just start thinking of a song and turn this into a getaway montage in your head, that’ll help you go faster. You chose a song with barking? That’s a choice! Wait, abort! That isn’t the song you chose! That’s Officer Jack! And he somehow is carrying handcuffs even though he doesn’t have opposable thumbs and he is getting ready to tackle you to the ground!!! You can’t hit a dog, what are you going to do?!?!

This is just like that part in that stupid book when the opposing Rooks have the Queen trapped in the corner of the board. Think, think, think. How did that woman with that terrible, terrible bob get out of it? How did she win the match? Something about dismantling the patriarchy by ridding the Knights of their toxic masculinity by promoting them to Queens. GAH, it’s no use! How can you harness the power of feminist chess if the past three hours of your life have been entirely devoted to tearing another woman down!

You’ve met your end. Lay your King (emotional support water bottle) on its side and surrender. Accept the plea bargain so you don’t have to go to jail and next time, Google the author and your professor’s names together before leaving a review.

  • November 3, 2023