I’ve been reflecting a little of late. The time of year encourages it, as does some of the events that have been happening. One matter that has been particularly thought-provoking is some of the negativity on social media about book reviews, bloggers and anyone who has an opinion. So I thought I’d take a moment to write some thoughts on my own personal point of view on a few things.
Am I any less of a book reviewer because I don’t write negative reviews? I don’t believe so. I would never go around listing all the qualities that I believe to be bad in a person so why on earth would I do that about a book? Also I do not tend to read books that I don’t enjoy, so it is actually incredibly difficult to write a negative review. I have a 50 page rule. If it doesn’t captivate or at least interest me within those pages I will generally move on to something else. Life is too darn short and there are plenty of other books that I will enjoy.
Also, I don’t see myself as a critic. I am fairly well qualified, I believe, to see the good in books. I have read a great deal, have worked as a so called ‘expert’ reviewer, and have also studied literature at degree level and come away with a first class qualification. I also understand that reading is a very personal thing. A little like Marmite if you like. One person’s exquisite is another’s drivel. For me, my ‘job’ as a book reviewer is to help bring books to the attention of readers. The book market is saturated. We have so much choice and it’s impossible for each and every book to have the mass marketing that each author (and publisher) would like. To my mind, this is something that book bloggers should assist with. Help bring those hidden gems to the top for a moment. The ones that didn’t quite make the grade (in your opinion) should be left in the shadows for others who did enjoy them to bring to the surface. Goodness, isn’t there enough negativity and hate already in this world.
‘It’s not personal!’ I hear you cry. But it is personal. To that author, publisher, illustrator, agent – anyone involved in the birth of that book (but especially the author). It is personal. Imagine if you were put on a ‘worst of’ list. There really is no point to them at all. You are doing no-one a service with such lists. You can never actually tell another human being what they will like or dislike – only they can decide. When I feature a book on my blog I’m not guaranteeing that everyone will love/like it as much as me. I’m purely saying ‘I think this is worth a look – see what you think.’ The rest is up to them.
There are books that I dislike for many different reasons but those books have been loved by others so I choose not to use my time expressing what I didn’t like about them. I refuse to try to tell people what they shouldn’t read.
So as we come towards the end of the year, a year that has been difficult and hard for many, may I ask you to send positivity out into the world and keep the ugly comments and thoughts to yourself. By all means keep a journal of ‘worst books’ if it satisfies something in you but sometimes things are best left unshared. And sometimes life is better if you just let it go and move on.
Sending much love and positivity this Christmas.
Stay safe. Stay well.