Wednesday, April 20, 2011

On writing book reviews

I am a book blogger, but I am not a professional review. It's just a hobby. One that I put a lot of time and effort into, but it doesn't put food on the table, it's just something that I like to do. I started a book blog mainly just to keep track of the books I read and do reading challenges. It's fun and I enjoy and I rarely, if ever, get negative comments on any of my reviews. I am rarely outright mean about a book and I try hard not to bash books that I don't like. There are a few exceptions where my reviews can be construed as mean, but that sometimes happens when you review a book that you hate. I like to think that it shows my honesty, but I know that some might disagree. I know that there are a plethora of articles and blog posts about book blogger and authors and the love/hate relationship that goes on between them. I try to stay out of it. In general I try to stay under the radar of most authors because my reviews are not for them. I am not reviewing them. I am reviewing their book. And, even if it is their "baby" or life's ambition or their most heartfelt work, I still have the right to review it as honestly as I can. People who say that book bloggers should be nice because this is someone's work seem to have a vague about what that actually means.  Like people don't get performance reviews or have their work criticize at a desk job. Books are just like everything else. Once it is out there, then it no longer belongs solely to you. It's like having a kid. Once that kid exists in the everyday world with other people, then there is no way for that child to escape criticisms.

Recently I wrote a fairly neutral review on a book that is otherwise getting glowing reviews.  I didn't dislike but I wasn't entirely wow'd by it either.  It was just good.  It was fine.  I'll read the sequel but I couldn't, in all honesty, say that was the best book ever.  Because I read a lot of books and this didn't give me that feeling that I get when I read a really great book.  It was just fine.  And that is fine.  This book will do well.  Other people loved it and felt free to tell me that in the comments.  Which I welcome.  I really do not mind people disagreeing with me in the comments.  I am going to emphasis that.  The thing that struck me reading through them is that the real fans were trying to convince me that this book was awesome.  It's like they needed me to agree with me.  I get that.  I do.  I've defended some (in my opinion) awesome books on other blogs.  But it's not going to make me change my opinion.  Especially when some of the comments seem to point out in a round-about way that I don't understand the book and precisely why it is so awesome.  Yeah, that's not going to make me change my mind.  Is it possible that I will change my mind later?  Yes, that has happened.  I've written reviews that were neutral or negative and later realized just how much I hated the book.  I've written reviews where later I realized how much I loved the book.  It's a matter of perspective.  Just because I don't like your favorite book doesn't mean that you don't like it.  It doesn't mean it is not worth reading.  We all don't have to like the same book.  It's better if we don't, in fact.

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