On Reviewing

I had a blog before this one. In another country, another life…

Ah. The United Kingdom. That once revered home of fair play and the sandwich, now forever besmirched by The Boris, The Brexit, and the third thing beginning with “B” that will not come to mind.

But I digress.

The aim of my previous blog was to get me to read more books. I read – or used to read – for a living, so reading for pleasure was something I no longer did. For the blog, I would read, I would rate, I would go on with my life.

That was the plan.

And it went OK. I didn’t read as much as I hoped to, but I did read more than had been my more recent habit. And I enjoyed writing about the books I’d chosen. I tried to be fair, but if I didn’t like a book, I would say so. There was one novel I had had high hopes for, but I believe I then found it boring. I can’t remember the title or the author now, but there was a chicken on the cover. I remember the chicken.

My review was something to the effect of me not even being interested enough to finish the book.

I then learned the lesson that authors Google themselves. Because of course they do. And they respond to hopelessly ignorant idiots on the internet. Because of course they do.

Mostly the experience has been scraped from my brain, but I remember she was very polite and thanked me for buying and reading her book. She might have apologized for my disliking it. I’m pretty sure she did. I was – and remain – mortified. I wrote a response to her comment. I asked her a question or two. She didn’t bother to follow up.

You see, the thing is, writing is hard. I don’t just make it look hard; it really is. And for someone to work that hard, to finish a book and for it to be deemed publishable – that’s an accomplishment. And, of course, once it’s out in the world, everyone has the right to give their opinion. Indeed, in this internet age, it feels like we are obliged to have an opinion about everything. 

But after that one review, I decided that I would never again use my fearsome influence to criticize a creator of art. No, both of my readers would only be faced with reviews of things that I actually liked. If I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t talk about it. I wasn’t going to add to the sum total of negativity on the WWW. But if I did like it? Then I wanted people to know.

As the great Jill Scott once said, “Everything ain’t for everybody.” If it’s for me, then I’ll write about it. Maybe it’ll be for you too. But if not, don’t worry. Your thing is out there somewhere. I’ll be here, waiting to hear about it when you find it.

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