Dark Glass Ponderings

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. -1 Corinthians 13:12

It seems most book bloggers fall into one of several approaches when it comes to reviewing a book they did not enjoy:

1) Brutally honest blogger: This type of blogger believes that s/he is giving the reader a service in sharing an honest opinion that might save another reader some money.  For most brutally honest bloggers, I believe they view giving their honest opinion as a form of integrity.

2) Empty page blogger: This type of blogger also views himself/herself as an honest blogger, but follows a different approach.  "If I don't like it, I don't write about it" is their philosophy.  It can be an excellent way to avoid causing dissension.  Also many bloggers are published authors or aspiring-to-be published authors, so they may know the pain caused by a negative review.

3) Its not my "cuppa" blogger: This type of reviewer might fall somewhere in the middle.  His/her philosophy is that  enjoyment of a book is highly subjective and dependent on many factors.  I didn't enjoy this book, but don't let that hold you back.

I think sometimes the best approach is to fit in all three categories, dependent on the time and occasion.

Recently I published what I think of as my first "negative" review:
http://darkglassponderings.blogspot.com/2010/05/review-hole-in-our-gospel.html

I strive to be honest in my reviews, but also kind in my words.  Often I am an empty page blogger, however, when it strikes close to the heart I must become a brutally honest blogger.

I bring up a highly controversial subject...occasionally my integrity as a blogger demands it.   We each have certain beliefs whether in our code of ethics, religion, or any other values  that are central to us.  I believe we each must decide what these issues are.  Sometimes as bloggers I believe we can and should be confrontational...

But most of the time I believe we should be encouraging.

What about you? What is your blog review philosophy?  Does it change dependent on the circumstances?

10 comments:

Great post! This is one that I think about often. I have only posted one truly negative post - with the rest being in the 'not my cuppa' category.

I have two reading journals that have been published and extensively reviewed by book bloggers- and now know the hurtful sting of bad comments. I just want to yell 'but..but..but...you don't understand!!! These are my babies you are dissecting!'.

No matter what, we as reviewers need to keep in mind that someone went to an incredible amount of time, effort and soul searching to product something worthy of being published. Authors give up tons of family time, personal time, money, dignity, energy, etc. to create what they think is a masterpiece and everyone should at the very least respect that...even if it is a dud! :)

Happy Armchair BEA!
Rachelle (Bibliobabe)

I think it's very important to be honest, whichever approach one chooses. That said, author-bashing isn't nice. I strongly think that the reviewer should review in an unbiased manner, without trying to sway crowds, but just aiming to let the reader decide. So long as a book isn't awful, the reviewer can mention what worked and what didn't work. Because in almost all books, there is usually some redeeming quality. Even for awful books, rather than taking a bashing approach, a mild approach can also pass the message. This is not "being nice", but rather being respectful. Even a book is a product of someone's toiling for some time, and even if the product didn't agree with a reader, it helps to respect the amount of work that went in.

I fall into the "not my cuppa" category. I try to convey definate reasons why I didn't like the book so that people can decide on their own.

I strive for honesty, but I am aware of the biases that come via a free book or the book a friend loved....hard to weed those out, so I attempt to acknowledge these.

I am a new follower (just now) though I think we once traded books at Bookbox....

Awesome thoughts! Thanks everyone for sharing. Sorry it took me a few days to catch up. Just got back from vacation.

Bibliobabe, very well thought out comment. I am in the "hoping to be published someday, God willing" category and even taking critique on my work can be difficult. So I try to walk very carefully when writing reviews. I think it is essential that we show respect for the author, as in your case. Thanks for stopping by.

Excellent thoughts, Athis. I agree that there is most often something redeeming to be found in every book. So we should make an effort to balance the positive and negative.

Teresa, Your approach is often mine when it comes to reviewing fiction. Thanks for stopping by.

Readerbuzz, I do believe I recognize your name from a booklist. Is bookboxes still around? I keep thinking it would be fun to get something like that going through the blogs...Thanks for joining in the conversation.

I tend to be the last example there, but I will not only focus on what didn't work for me, but also what did. I tend to be an optimist, so I do tend to find something that I can grab and praise at least a bit!

Good point, Tif. I think we can find something to appreciate in most every book. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

Interesting post, well I would have said I was an empty page blogger. But now that I am finishing my first book, I want to be a not my “cuppa” blogger. I could never be a negative blogger because we all like different things and I would just assume I might not like it but you might. But I know I want honest feedback myself on my work, so I want to do the same for others. Now you have me thinking :- ) Thanks for stopping by my blog. Clarice

Thanks for stopping by here as well, Storybook. I love your logo. I am still thinking about this and I suspect as I evolve as a blogger I will evolve in my perspective. I think there is a place for all 3 types of bloggers, sometimes on the same blog.


Julia M. Reffner

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Christ-loving bookworm & homeschool mom of 2 stealing the rare quiet moments to pursue that all elusive writing dream. I also write book reviews for Title Trakk and The Historical Novel Society.

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