The implication seems to be that's not the way to do things. That reading shouldn't be something critical you do. In some ways, I have absolutely no objection to that line of thought. In other ways though, I wholeheartedly rebel against someone telling ME how to read a book.
It doesn't matter if you're an author, another reviewer, a publisher, whomever. What I want to make very clear is that books are art, sure. They're also products. Products that as a consumer, I have the right to enjoy in any way I wish.
The book world is adorable because there's this community aspect to it. There doesn't seem to be very much thought that books are an industry. A formerly lucrative industry struggling to regain ground. Publishers aren't charities, or art curators: they're looking for books they believe will be enjoyed by the widest audience.
I guess my main problem is that books are like tv, they're like music, they're media products for consumers. They're also art. Yet, when it comes to criticism, it seems like the book world doesn't deal with it like the music industry.
For example, I will tell you without a doubt that I despise the song Timber. Like, every time it goes on the radio, I turn it off. I can't tell you why I don't like it- I just feel like it's generally a trashy song. I don't like the chorus, and I have a ridiculous disdain for Pitbull. And, if I tweeted, "Timber is SO TRASHY. #notforme", I doubt there would be much commotion. I feel free to express my opinions on music, on websites (check out all the tweets I send Twitter about how AWFUL their interface is becoming) and there are several tv shows I will easily call awful. (Check out most TV shows on Family, or Disney for you Americans).
I don't feel comfortable doing the same to books. I feel like no, you can't go out and just say this book sucks. In fact, I make a point to never do that. I feel like my negative reviews have a lot of disclaimers: "this is just my opinion... others could enjoy it". But why? Obviously, it's not because I'm the type of person incapable of criticizing. I do that pretty comfortably when it comes to tv and music.
Maybe part of it is that I adore books and want more people to read. I encourage reading, and I feel a little responsible to help grow books in the world. It seems sometimes like reading is a niche thing that I should help grow. Like I'll offend my fellow bookworms if I don't frame everything completely subjectively, and make it clear that my negative opinion isn't really that valid.
And this is something I feel strongly about: my opinion means nothing. There are some general standards to quality, but books are something so subjective that something I despise, can be adored by thousands of people. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that. Because, once again, people are going to experience different products differently. There's no evil intent to not like a book; you can't help it..
So, I guess we can say it's a pet peeve of mine when I go on Twitter and see posts saying stuff like, it's easy to criticize if you're looking for stuff to criticize. Call it one of the downfalls of reviewing, but I'm now extremely aware of characters and plots. I can call out stuff that I don't like, and I have every right to do so because I truly believe my opinion is worth absolute shit to anybody other than myself. If someone looks at my review and thinks that it's valid, and it can be helpful to them, that's awesome. I love that, except I feel like it goes without saying that you never know unless you try.
It's just so irritating to see on Twitter sometimes, some authors complaining about reviewers (this post was written months ago, don't ask, I probably forgot who) not enjoying their books by saying they didn't "get it". Like somehow, the reviewer should change themselves to enjoy the book better; they weren't the right audience, so they have to consider what their audience would have thought whilst reviewing.
|I don't know who made this and I've seen it everywhere. It's brilliant.|
I completely disagree with that idea. My brain works a certain way. Your brain works a certain way. Neither of us will ever know the full extent of these differences because we will never inhabit the others' brain. That means that I can not review a book for anybody other than myself. My opinion is absolutely valid for me writing the review, but beyond that, I don't assign any value to my opinion.
There is no wrong way to write a review, and although there are some preferable ways (don't be a jerk, try to be cool), I think it's super duper important to remember that there is no right way to read a book, and either way, once an author writes a story, it is out into the world where the story will have to hold its own. And, I guess you can say that "the customer is always right" and that's certainly true because to yourself, your opinion has weight. Now, whether an opinion matters to other people is something more debatable. Either way, I would very much like it if I stopped seeing people being criticized for a) having opinions and b) expressing opinions c) being told their opinion isn't all that valid (duh).
Now, on to the disclaimer ;)
This is my opinion. I'm allowed to have my opinion and express it. I don't even think my own opinion is valid most of the time, but I'd love to hear your thoughts for why you agree/disagree with what I wrote. Also, writing this made me feel like a conservative, which is ridiculous because I consider myself very leftist.