Friday, April 20, 2007

Final Thoughts On Blogging and a New Blog

First of all, I think this should be required viewing. Check out Toon Thursday on Finding Wonderland.

I am sure I am not the only one tired of discussing blogs vs. reviews. And what a review should be. And what it shouldn't be. And if bloggers are any good at reviewing. Or if they are complete waste of time. People have been discussing whether bloggers should clearly state their opinions about a book (positive, negative, indifferent). And if they should only post about books they love and would recommend. And do people assume that reviewing a book is an endorsement of that book? Can a blogger lose her reputation if a reader of the blog is disappointed in a book after hearing about it on the blog? Are bloggers trying to establish a trust in the first place?

I like to think that if you read my reviews you can get some sense or perspective on who I am and what I like. But that isn't always the case. Why? Because I review everything I read. I can recognize the value of a book even if I didn't personally love it. I can see other people reading it. Other people enjoying it. I don't have to love a book in order to talk about it. I will recommend books I don't like to a person if they give me an indication of what types of books they are looking for.

I said I try to make each review authentic. What does that mean? It doesn't mean I share ALL of my thoughts on a book. I can say a book is thrilling or exciting or suspenseful without liking where it takes me. I can recognize the fact that it has those elements without sharing my personal opinion about it. Genres are personal things. It is okay for me to NOT like sports books. Or to not like mysteries. Or to not like horror. Or to not like this or that. I can still read them on occasion. I can still recognize the fact that it is a well written (or moderately well written) book that will appeal to other people. I can still intelligently summarize a book (without spoiling it of course). I can still discuss it. Just because I wouldn't reread a book or want to own my own copy doesn't mean I don't recognize merit when I see it. I don't have to love it to know it's there. I don't have to get all ecstatic to be able to talk about a book. Does the fact that I fail to mention that I don't personally enjoy it, and didn't personally connect with a book taint my review? If I really disliked the author. If I thought it was poorly written. If I thought it was full of mistakes. Or if the characters were just pure cardboard. If I thought it was a complete waste of time. If I didn't think anyone could possibly enjoy it...sure, I can see being very vocal and upfront about my response. But I can't presume that my biases will match anyone elses. I try to describe a book. If a book is full of murder. Full of blood. Full of chase scenes. Full of this or that. Then you know. You can decide for yourself if it is in your comfort zone. If it's the kind of book you'd want to pick up and read.

I don't want to burden the review down with all my personal reasons for liking or disliking a book. Most of the time it's personal. It's my preferences that are the deciding factor. But it did get me to thinking. I have started a new blog called Becky's Book Guide. I don't presume to think that it will interest too many people. It will not be reviews. It will be behind-the-scenes of the review. A camera inside my mind if you will. It will capture what I really, truly think about a book. The really personal stuff. If you are bored enough to want to go there...then you're welcome to come.

The purpose of Becky's Book Guide is to capture the evaluation process. I think these things about every book I read. It's automatic. It's something I just 'know' at the end of the reading process. If I write it down, it helps me keep track of it. I think the big reason I'm doing this is to make it easier on myself when I start seriously participating in LIBRARIANS CHOICES and when I start compiling my own "best of 2007" list.

Here are the questions I'll be answering for EVERY book I post.

Did I like this book?
Would I read other works by this author?
Would I reread this book?
Would I recommend this book to others?
Do I think it should be considered one of the best books of the year?
Do I feel it belongs on library shelves?
Would I buy this book in hardcover and pay full price?
Would I buy this book in paperback and pay full price?
Would I buy this book used and for a good price?
Would I check this book out of the library?
Did this book make me smile?
Did this book make me laugh?
Did this book make me cry?
Did this book make me angry?
Did this book surprise me?
Did this book make me think?
Did this book leave me confused?
Was it boring?
Was it exciting?
Was it a book I didn't want to put down?

Here are some of the books I've posted about so far:

In Search of Mockingbird
The Off Season
Titan's Curse
What My Girlfriend Doesn't Know

After this, I don't think anyone can accusing me of being dishonest or misleading the public.

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