Thursday, May 9, 2013

Book Reviews and a Couple of Self-Portraits

I write book reviews somewhat regularly and post them at Goodreads. I have also, more infrequently, posted reviews on various blogs, especially my old blog, Traipsing About Granby. I write book reviews for several reasons. Foremost, I like to think more about the things that I have read and save a bit of them for my future self to see. Also, I enjoy giving book advice to others and sharing things about the books I have read with friends.

When I write reviews, I focus on the things that moved me and the things that would make me recommend or not recommend the book to another reader. Even with good books, I tend to focus on the negative because that is what I want in a book review. I want to hear what things about the book might make me not want to read it. You can find a plot synopsis and advertisement review anywhere. I realize my reviews may not appeal to a lot of people, but there are some readers out there who are enough like me or at least have reading preferences enough like mine to glean some useful information from what I write.

When I started this blog, I assumed I would publish many of my book reviews here. I still intend to, but I haven't started yet because I wanted some more information. Mostly, I wanted to know if I could cross-post my reviews on Goodreads and include a link to my blog. I have seen other reviewers do that, but I wasn't sure that the Goodreads terms of service allowed it.

Well, I was looking this information up, and I still haven't found an answer, but I did find so much controversy. I am not new to book review controversies. I have friends who are authors, and they tend to take any negative criticism in reviews poorly. I am thin-skinned and understand that criticism is difficult. At the same time, book reviews are not usually a direct criticism of the author, they are simply a discussion about the book.(Sometimes I speak about an author's whole body of work or a significant portion of it, but still, it is how those works pertain to me personally, and how I think they might be seen by others.)

The biggest controversy is people flagging negative reviews, resulting in the reviews being hidden! This is so wrong. If you don't like something, you have a right to state that. It can be as blunt as, "I didn't like this book." That is no different that simply stating, "Wow, this was a great book." Those might be short, non-specific reviews, but if the reviewer's audience is familiar with their preferences, those reviews still carry a lot of meaning. I have written my share of critical reviews. I really didn't like "American Gods" by Neil Gaiman. I  thought the Inheritance Series by Christopher Paolini was full of gratuitous violence. With the exception of a few paragraphs, "Mists of Avalon" so wasn't worth wading through and don't get me started on the Inkworld or Xanth series. Since Goodreads allows comments on reviews, you can even have active discussions about different viewpoints. Flagging should only be done when someone breaks the terms of service. Flagging is about inappropriate sexual content and spam, nude photos, non-book related remarks, things like that!

I just went back and searched Goodreads once more, and this time found their actual review guidelines. They seem rock solid to me. I hope no inappropriate flagging occurs in the future. It also seems that it is completely acceptable for me to post reviews on Goodreads with a link to the crosspost here so I may start doing that. Sorry to those of you who end up getting my stuff twice!

Now, a few more photos from the self-portrait project.

A Joyful Stroll

A Flower-filled Shadow

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