I swear, I'm still here. A fan in our desktop appears to be going, so the computer has been on for only a couple hours the past weekend. Also, LL bought a game (just before the fan started acting up of course) so he attempted a stress test. Yeah.
Anyway, I've been trying to follow from my phone but I've got quite a backlog and I was also mulling over this. I turned out to be WAY longer then I intended but I hadn't really given my intro to reviewing, etc. much thought before. Again, just something things that I've been wrestling with during the latest issue. I'd love to know your thoughts and how you got started.
Looking back, I realize I started for two separate and yet, somewhat connected reasons. I discovered reader reviews and book blogging through Goodreads when I was looking up information on a book. One of the first sites I clicked on took me to a page containing all the information I could possibly want about the book (when it came out, etc.) as well as a host of reviews and reader’s thoughts. I promptly forgot what I was looking for (and still can’t remember even which book) and began to read other people’s thoughts on the book. I was…amazed. The first two were a positive and negative review and I found myself agreeing with points brought up in each. I immediately began looking for other books I knew and grew to love the site.
I never, in the beginning, planned to actually write a review. Oh no, I firmly believed I had nothing to say and who would want to read my thoughts anyway? But it became a site I frequently went to as I learned of a book and then looked to see what others thought. I will say, I never took any one reviewer’s opinion of a book as the truth and wrote of a book because of it. If you look at three reviews you may get as many as four opinions and each one is different. However, I did learn that reading a couple good positive reviews and a couple good negative ones could give me a feel for how I might approach it. I could recognize things that I loved in a negative review and things that ticked me off in positive reviews and vice versa. Sometimes, I decided not to pursue a book but often I’d end up requesting it from the library and reading it before I planned to.
It took me several months, maybe a year of lurking before I decided to join. Again, at first, I didn’t plan to write “reviews”. I was fed up with not knowing how many and what books I owned and after purchasing a second copy for the second time, I figured enough was enough. Plus, I’d found go to people for reviews and it was hard to find them every time I went to the site (my bookmarks are atrocious and I never even look at them unless I’m absolutely desperate) and I wanted to be able to follow them and comment on how helpful I’d found their reviews – and occasionally on how funny I’d found them. Concurrently, I realized that I had little memory of books I’d read in the past, as I read them too quickly and back to back, after reading a particularly horrible P&P pastiche that I hadn’t realized I read before until halfway through it and familiarity was breeding contempt. I decided life was too short to read bad books over and over because I couldn’t remember them until it was too late and so I decided to do short write-ups of my thoughts and feelings about the books I read, in order to jumpstart my memory.
It worked, and I found myself growing them, making them more in depth and writing reviews before I realized it. When someone liked my review and said it helped them decide to read the book, my second reason came into being. I wanted to give back just a bit what many others had given to me. I’ve come to really appreciate that a book can be many different things to different readers. That is what makes modern publishing so wonderful. Before the printing press, each book was laboriously hand copied and often the reason we have some books is that the same book had multiple copies. Now hundreds, even thousands are printed each year and more can be put out digitally. That means there is at least one book out there for everyone. I might not like it, but you might and I love the richness we often take for granted. This also means that one’s thoughts on a book are personal and stem from your past, your beliefs, and your bias: in short, who you are as a person. (I know I’m not saying anything you don’t already know, but sometimes it’s nice to stop and remember.) That’s what I came to love most and what kept me writing and even starting to tailor my thoughts into reviews, because we each have opinions as well as likes/dislikes; further, we have a right to those opinions and likes/dislikes and others can and often do find them helpful. They may disagree, but even reviews I’ve strongly disagreed with have only added to my understanding in their particular case, my love for the book. Recognizing why someone doesn’t like it has often solidified my understanding of why I do.
Booklikes has added a new element to what I do and is the reason why I keep coming back (though it seems every other day something conspires to keep me off). I’ve found friends, people who care about and are mad about books as much as I am. I can talk about a book that won’t let me go or a book that sent me fleeing the written word for a time. I’ve discovered so many new books I’d have never had the courage to pick up on my own and I’ve found, to my continuing amazement, that people have enjoyed books I’ve wrote about. For me, reading has often been a very lonely place, somewhere I could escape to but also something that kept people away. They didn’t understand or they didn’t read what I read and wasn’t interested in it. I can count on one hand the times I’ve truly been able to talk to someone with similar interest in books I’ve read except for my sister (and even then we’re hit and miss). And for one reason or another, we didn’t live close by for long. Book blogging has connected me with people I admire, people who read books I want to read, and sometimes, people who just make me laugh when I need one.
So thank you, for your wonderful and thought-provoking reviews, your recommendations that are causing my TBR list to develop language skills (and make threaten movements), and for giving me a smile or a laugh on days I need it with book humor or just a great picture. I’m looking forward to what you’ll post next.
I can’t wait to see what great book you’ve found this time.