NOTICE: (Updated March 5, 2010)
Beginning December 19, 2009, Books 'N Border Collies will be posting but only intermittently while I pursue personal goals. I plan to share some reading I'm doing, but there will be no reviews. I will, however, be sharing my exploration of vegetarian cooking and the cookbooks and websites I use to educate myself. I hope you enjoy it!
Thursday, July 9, 2009
No Negative Reviews = Wishy-Washy Reviewer? I Disagree.
Every couple months or so I see discussions crop up on various blogs regarding negative reviews and whether or not bloggers want to or should write them. The definition of "negative" is nebulous at times. Does it mean we shouldn't say anything bad about a book we didn't enjoy? Does it include constructive criticism or are we only talking about what could be called "nasty" or "snarky" reviews?
I believe each blogger needs to approach this issue in his or her own way. It's the distinct personality of a blog that draws loyal readers and commenters. And as blog readers, we will continue to visit and engage those who are the most entertaining and informative to us. Therefore, it's not the argument of what kind of reviews a book blogger should write that I want to draw attention to here. What strikes me when I see these discussions are the comments that imply a blogger who doesn't write any negative reviews is somehow being wishy-washy or dishonest or kowtowing to authors and/or publishers. I strongly disagree with this view. There are not a ton of comments along these lines, but every time I see one I get cranky.
I am one of those bloggers who dislikes writing outright negative reviews, and my reason is this: One Reader's Junk is Another Reader's Treasure. For every book I didn't like, there are numerous readers who will tell me it was their favorite book ever, and those are the people I'm hoping to reach when I write my thoughts on my reading.
In reality, books that I genuinely disliked are few and far between and even fewer that I would say I outright despised. I'm more apt to be ambivalent. That is because I know my reading tastes, and while I do explore out of my comfort zone fairly often, I can usually do it in a manner that still fits my personal likes and dislikes. On the surface, I seem to read a large variety, but I still have an inner criteria that goes into each choice I make. Yes, there are books that suffer the bad luck of being read at the wrong time -- I'm in a bad mood or I just finished a fantastic book and the next one just can't match it. Perhaps I was mistaken in what I thought a book was about. There are times I am aware that a book most likely won't be something I'll love, but I want to read it anyway for whatever reason. I keep all these things in mind when I sit down to tell you about them. If it happens that I didn't like a book, I'll tell you and I'll tell you why. But it won't be because "the author writes like an imbecile and couldn't plot his way out of a paper bag", because that may be true, but maybe he was really, really funny anyway.
Just my two cents. Anyone want to borrow my soapbox? :-)