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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sunday Salon

I haven't done a Sunday Salon in a while. It was a productive book week for me: 5 book reviews posted and two scheduled for later blog tours. I don't think this next week will be as productive! It was also a thought-provoking week for me in regards to writing negative reviews. The Social Frog posted about this and it got me thinking. This topic will forever move through the book blogging world, and I don't think it will ever go away.

I think that honesty in reviewing is important. Being honest means that occasionally, even often, a reviewer will not like a particular book. I don't absolutely love every book I read. Some I like more than others, several I've absolutely hated, and some I don't finish. I'm not the only person who does this. I also think it's important to not be mean in our effort to be honest. Simply not liking an author's book isn't being mean, and a negative review can certainly be tempered with positive aspects.

No one likes negative comments. Whether it's a book review or someone not liking your outfit on a particular day, negative comments are difficult to take. But, what pleases one person is not going to please another.

I have had several authors send me their books directly. I have had several authors comment on my blog, both for positive reviews and negative reviews. Last year, one claimed to respect my opinion, but it was clear in their lengthy response that they were offended. My response in that case is always the same: it’s unrealistic for an author to expect every reader to love and adore their book the way they do. Readers always respond personally to any book read: sometimes we react from our own experiences, or perhaps something just simply touches a nerve. We take the things we read, just like we take our day to day experiences and we make them our own, often in ways the author didn't intend. Books also often make us aware of things in ourselves that we might not have previously realized.

I'm often surprised when I see a negative review about a book I've loved. But, I also find it interesting to see someone else's take and perspective. I think it's unrealistic to think that we can convince other people to see books the same way we do. We can only share our opinions and hope that those who read them will take that opinion and think on it. If it causes reflection, then it's a good thing.

What do you think?

You can find more Sunday Salon postings here.

7 comments:

Kerrie said...

Negative reviews are always a problem Holly, particularly as we worry so much about giving offence.
I always feel that if I didn't like a book, then there may still be others who would.
However I reserve the right to be critical and even negative if I wish. Any author who sends me a book to review will surely value my honesty.
One did ask me to remove some quotes that I used to illustrate the points I had made.
Have a look at
http://paradise-mysteries.blogspot.com/2009/03/review-mind-of-genius-david-snowdon.html and http://paradise-mysteries.blogspot.com/2008/07/review-quiet-girl-by-peter-hoeg.html

Bree said...

I completely agree with your post. Sometimes negative reviews influence my choices but its usually because in the back of my mind I've already decided that I don't want to read book or had a low opinion of book as well. Sometimes a negative review will make me decide to read a book because I want to see what all the hype is about just as with a positive review. Books I've received for review that I just can't finish because they don't grab me, I usually pass on to another reader and don't complete a review. I can't help it. Time is short and like you said we don't get paid to review so...It always makes me feel bad when I do this but thankfully its only happened twice.

Julie said...

I agree with you. In fact, I think it's a good thing to write the occasional negative review. First of all, it gives added credibility to the positive reviews (i.e. the blogger is thinking critically and not in the publisher's pocket). And second, knowing what makes the blogger tick can give you a good idea if you will like the same books. Many times I've read a negative review and thought wow, yeah, that would bug me too -- and then I've been really interested to know what books that blogger DID like.

bermudaonion said...

I totally agree with you - honesty in reviews is important, and of course, not everyone will like the same book.

susan said...

"But, I also find it interesting to see someone else's take and perspective. I think it's unrealistic to think that we can convince other people to see books the same way we do."

I not only agree, but I also find the review that differs from popular opinion often more interesting. I don't think reviewers should purposely look for flaws but I think it is disingenuous not to be honest in a review. And as long as reviewer provides context for why he dislikes something, I think that is fair and balanced.

mominsanity said...

Negative reviews are really important, in my opinion. It keeps you on your toes and also, your credibility is enhanced.

Nymeth said...

I think you said it perfectly. It's possible to be honest while still being graceful. And I enjoy reading reviews that present an opinion that is different from my own. They won't change my mind about the book, but sometimes they allow me to see it in a different light. And that's always enriching.