First, I'd just like to thank everyone for nominating me for several different BBAW awards! It was a wonderful surprise. In semi-related (but not really) news, my blogoversary is only six days away. In some ways three years feels like forever, but in other ways not so much. I haven't decided how I'd like to celebrate yet.
Shannon Hale had a great post this week on rating books. She questions the importance of readers (and reviewers) rating books. "In my opinion, there are more interesting questions to ask myself after reading a book than what I would rate it." And "I wonder if we get so caught up in gushing or bashing, shining up those stars or taking them away, that the reading experience is weighed too heavily on the side of the book itself and not enough on the reader. After all, reader is more important than book. Reader is the one who changes from reading, not the book. Reader is the one who lives the magic of storytelling." She then asks her readers six questions.
While I've flirted with the idea of rating books--I went through a six or seven month period a year ago or so where I tried to consistently rate each book I reviewed on the blog--I've never been great at it. I think I've always realized that it's just too subjective. And that more often than not, ratings just get misconstrued anyway.
One of the questions--or half-questions--she asks is: What do you feel is your role as reviewer?
That's a tough question. The simplest approach is to say "Hey, this book is here, and this is what I thought." But it's more complicated than that. Part of me feels that what I personally like or doesn't like just doesn't matter all that much. Reading is just too subjective to only recommend books that I love, love, love. Part of me feels that my role should be about trying to capture what a book is about, what the author was trying to do with the book, trying to evaluate how a book fits (or doesn't fit) within a genre or subgenre, trying to let my readers know if this book could be a good match for them.
But it's impossible to remove the subjective experience completely. And I think there is some value to having it there within the review. Depending on your relationship with the blogger--if you're a loyal reader of a particular blog--it does matter whether a person likes a book or not. If you've established a trusting relationship, then it can be a deciding factor on whether or not you pick up a book. But it's important to keep in mind that negative and lukewarm reviews can encourage readers as well. There are times where the reviewer doesn't like it, but there is just enough there to make you curious. To make you say that you want to read it and see for yourself.
Putting myself in the role of reader (of reviews) I ask myself, "Is this a book I'd like to read?" I look for clues in the review. Clues loosely related to the question of "Why should I read this?" and "Is this book a good match for me?" And "Is this book worth my time?" Again this may be subjective, so different readers might look for different things, different answers within a review. What do you look for in a review?
Movies this week:
Scarlet Pimpernel, 1934 (my review)
Under the Greenwood Tree
The Three Musketeers, 1948 (again)
What I read in a previous week, but reviewed this week:
North Or Be Eaten by Andrew Peterson. 2009. Water Brook. 332 pages.
Absolutely, Positively Not... by David Larochelle. 2005. 219 pages.
The Siren Song by Anne Ursu. 2007. Simon & Schuster. 435 pages.
Sent by Margaret Peterson Haddix. 2009. Simon & Schuster. 313 pages.
The Secret Life of Prince Charming. Deb Caletti. Simon & Schuster. 322 pages.
Babymouse: The Musical (#10) by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm. 2009. Random House. 96 pages.
Babymouse: Dragonslayer (#11) by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm. 2009. Random House. 96 pages.
What I read this past week and reviewed:
Wilson and Miss Lovely by John Stadler. 2009.
I Don't Want To Go To School by Stephanie Blake. 2009. Random House.
Big Bear Hug. Nicholas Oldland. 2009. Kids Can Press.
Come Back Soon by Daniel Schallau. 2009. Houghton Mifflin.
Christian the Lion. Anthony Bourke and John Rendall. 2009. Henry Holt.
Nathaniel Fludd Beastologist: Flight of the Phoenix. R.L. LaFevers. 2009. Houghton Mifflin. 138 pages.
Whirlwind by Cathy Marie Hake. 2008. Bethany House. 358 pages.
Antony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare. 1608(ish).
What I read this past week and haven't reviewed yet:
The Tear Collector by Patrick Jones. 2009. Bloomsbury (Walker). 272 pages. (September 2009)
Hoppergrass. By Chris Carlton Brown. 2009. Henry Holt. 240 pages.
Never Cry Werewolf by Heather Davis. 2009. HarperCollins. 216 pages.
What I've read and really, really need to review:
Jumping Off Swings. Jo Knowles. 2009. Candlewick Press. 230 pages.
A Map of the Known World by Lisa Ann Sandell. 2009. Scholastic. 273 pages.
What I'm currently reading:
The Immortal Fire by Anne Ursu
The Greatest Knight by Elizabeth Chadwick
Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Moran
Fearless by Max Lucado
Opening Atlantis by Harry Turtledove
Ash by Malinda Lo
What I'm just fooling around that I'm reading:
Putting the Amazing Back Into Grace by Michael Horton
The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
What I've abandoned:
© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews