Blogger Confession: I am a grumpy picky reader at times and my reviews reflect that!
NOTE: This is going to be a bit of a ramble! I woke up in one of those moods.
Lately the old “you should only post good reviews” conversation has been popping up. I think this is tied into the goodreads hoopla on shelving names or maybe with all the author/blogger relations that play out like a soap opera over the interwebs. I have always kind of stayed out of it because really that drama feels manufactured to me (a way to get hits or notoriety). Here is my stance: I feel like you should post what you want and name your shelves what you want too. If you want to post only good reviews then you should (sometimes we just like to forget the ones that didn’t work for us). Same with if you want to post reviews all over the place (good, bad, inbetween) then you should (I don’t believe in posting personal attacks though so please don’t take this as a support of that reviewing device). Personally, I am more in the second group of people because I don’t like every story I read. Though I read plenty of blogs that fall into the first category too. I wish I liked every story I have read but unless I was writing them all for myself there is no way that can possibly happen. Since my blog is ultimately a way to keep track of what I have read, then the good, the bad, and the ugly all appear here. On goodreads, I have shelves named “didn’t work for me but will for others”, “1 wine glass”, and “DNF”. There are books on those shelves because they accurately reflect how I felt about that story.
Is it a mood thing? Maybe
Is it a style thing? Maybe
Is it something else entirely? Maybe
I don’t apologize for any of those reasons. Unless you are making the review personal towards the author (which you should never do) then you shouldn’t apologize either! We are allowed to not like stories for any reason we darn well like. There I said it! You have permission to not like something. No one has led the same exact life as you. You may personally dislike any storyline in which the character has a trait that you just can’t stand. Not everyone will have a problem with it but it grates on your nerves. It isn’t the author’s fault and it isn’t your fault. It just is! This is why reading is so personal! We all have things in our lives, our past, and our thoughts that play a part in every story we read. Heck, I have LOVED some stories that 70% of the people just thought was “meh”. I didn’t feel the need to apologize after that either. It works both ways with reading and that is what is wonderful about it. I think if you read with other people in mind, you are missing a part of the story that will uniquely be your own. Who wants to miss that?
I think in this day and age when readers and authors are connected more than ever before that we feel bad when we don’t like a book. I mean in person, you don’t go up and talk to authors about their stories that you didn’t love. You talk about the ones that just made you fall head over heels. In the virtual space, it is all there in black and white. Does that mean that we have to hold back on how we feel? No. First, in most cases even if the author sees that you dislike a story, she/he will probably not remember that is was you that disliked something if you meet them in person. Even if they do remember, I don’t think they are going to call you on it. We have to remember that authors are readers too. They understand (at least most of them do) that not every story works for every reader. They get that it isn’t personal when we don’t connect with their characters. They understand that we each read their book differently than they wrote it. They wrote the book (and characters) that they wanted and put it out to the world to be devoured by readers from every walk of life. They understand that it won’t work for some. This is why I love authors, they create something that we each take and make our own while reading. They support us doing that! Yes, they would prefer we all love their work but most of them don’t take it personally when we don’t.
In the end remember reading is personal and you are allowed to be a grumpy picky reader! You are allowed to love and hate characters based on your own personal experience. You are allowed to agree/disagree with your friends about what works/doesn’t work in story.
Personal Note from a Review Reader (me): Embrace your views (good and bad) on stories because it is the uniqueness of your POV that makes reading reviews so much fun. I want to know how the story impacted you and what you liked/didn’t like about it. I know I look forward to reading reviews every day. I have found awesome stories that way. I have found people who have liked/disliked the same stories as me and we have wonderful conversations over it. I have found people who have exact opposite feelings about a story than I do and we have wonderful conversations around our differences too. In the end, I have found that as long as you are honest about how you feel then your reviews are genuinely great to read. I personally am a huge fan of when your love of reading shines through in a review. Don’t feel pressured (either way) to post good/bad reviews. Just be true to your experience with a story and let the rest of the hoopla play out on the interwebs. Remember: that isn’t personal either!