This is the second part of the post I wrote in May. I would have preferred to have finished this post sooner, but things got in the way. And we all know how easily that can happen. However, after attending a session of my book club I decided it might have been fortuitous and therefore enough with the procrastination.
Time to get back on track. You see, at the session the topic of reviews came up. Most of the members did not see the point in writing a review but the topic had never come up before and because I have always reviewed, I never considered they wouldn’t. It’s a book club and consequently full of readers. Readers review, don’t they?
Or maybe they don’t.
In Part 1 of this post, I discussed feeling uncomfortable to recommend a book, but I got over it. I had to. As a child I didn’t understand the mechanics and importance of giving an opinion on a commodity. As a grown up I see the significance of insights into something that costs me money. Reviews and recommendations provide insights, entice others to the new. I have written about reviews before so I decided why not do it again.
Why do so many people either hesitate writing a review or have no interest in writing one? I agree it is difficult to believe our opinions are worthy, but practicality dictates we overcome this. The end result of writing is a book. A book is a product. As consumers, we need access to information so we can make an informed choice. when we purchase. Writers need that same information in order to produce a better product. Comments help improve and motivate a writer. Improvement comes with input. Some of my work is good, some not so good. Time and feedback has allowed me a huge improvement. I still have a long way to go. Continued feedback encourages me to keep going.
Of course, there is a downside to writing reviews. Our personal likes and dislikes automatically infiltrate our words and our tone whether spoken or written. What if we hurt with our words, do damage by our beliefs? The true problem lies in acting unkindly when there is no need, something most of us seem to manage until we are nudged into remembering we have a choice in how we approach sharing our opinion. Dealing with someone’s feelings and livelihood requires sensitivity with the honesty. The more we read the better we become at commenting because our own understanding grows.
In a recent post by Catherine Meyrick, Catherine spoke about books that had become films. People often argue which is better, the film or the book? It seems to me it is in our nature to have those different ideas, different beliefs. Reading what others think helps us gain perspective. I am a book person but, in this case, I loved both. I recognised the places mentioned by description and understood the changes wrought by time through visual medium.
However, what made the most impression on me was the fact that without the school I attended making my class read it, I might never have read Playing Beattie Bow despite haunting the local library from about seven years of age. I didn’t know what a review was but then again things were different back then. What I did know thanks to my teachers was how hard it was to manipulate words and how rewarding. I knew this because of their feedback. Millions are publishing either traditionally or self-publishing every day; competition is enormous. Reviews are invaluable to help an author compete.
Even if you come from another planet, you can avoid a bias. Coming from a perspective of differences in upbringing, culture, gender, educational and professional environments should be a boon to impartiality. Surely it cannot be that difficult to give our views with thoughtfulness and integrity. Personally, I would have loved nothing better than to have read a review of Playing Beattie Bow all those years ago because I might have read the book and engaged with a beautiful world created by a brilliant author – Ruth Park, so much sooner.
Of course, this is only my opinion and I have yet to write a review on this book. Thanks to Catherine’s discussion I am now aware of that oversight. I think I might do this with quite a few of the books from my past. After all, I do it all the time with whatever I read in the present.
Ciao for now,
Questions for me? Want to share your views and ideas? I’d love to hear from you. A like and a comment will keep me working harder. And, if by any chance you have read my books or a book, I have featured I would love it if you left a review. It helps writers become better writers. Consider leaving one on Goodreads if not at the site the book was purchased.
I think of reviewing as being like what you do when someone asks you what you are reading. You tell them just enough about the story to get them interested and talk about what you likes most about it. You are trying to convince them that they will enjoy what has been a positive experience for you. These days I generally only review those books I have truly enjoyed.
I’m looking forward to your review of Playing Beattie Bow – you will have to read it again. One of the books I absolutely loved from early secondary school was Sun on the Stubble by Colin Thiele – the first time I ever laughed out loud while reading in public, I was on my way home from school on the tram! Re-reading it a few years ago was an absolute pleasure, as good as the first time.
I did go in and review Playing Beattie Bow. I totally agree with what you say about reviewing and I may go in and check out Colin Thiele. That feeling of laughing out loud is wonderful.
Normally I try and review just what I enjoy but without reviews an author’s profile stays at a low level and as an author I know how much this hurts for our books. I am inclined to think a review is still worthwhile even if you don’t like the book providing your remarks are fair. It is not easy but these days I am guided by the fact our tastes are so different that someone else will see something for them.
Thank you for stopping by. It is such a thrill when someone comments.
It is a thrill, and I know I don’t comment anywhere near enough. Even after all this time, I still don’t quite get social media and sometimes feel like I am butting into private conversations.
I have been thinking a bit about reviews lately and I should try harder, even if it’s only a couple of positive lines. I think Australians are more reluctant to write reviews that Americans or British people, though they do give ratings. I’ve been told that even the ‘absolute trash’ and ‘bad and boring’ reviews help raise the profile of a book. If only everyone who gave books 5 stars would also write ‘I loved it’.
I love reading reviews, however, It is only their opinion and I may or may not agree with them. It is nice to read what the book is about to spark my interest though.