Thursday, February 2, 2012

I Pinky Swear (a.k.a. My Book Review Oath)

When I see a book  I am interested in, I read reviews to see what other readers thought about the book.  I am very specific in what I am looking for in a book review, and I do admit that I tend to get frustrated when I can't find what I am looking for.  I think the aspect of a book review that I see most often that gets my ire up is when the reviewer summarizes the book.  Not just the quick three or four sentence summary, but the three or four paragraph summary.  I believe that you read the book, really, I do!  There is no need to regurgitate that information, because if I choose to read it, I'm going to ingest it all anyway.  If I was in a book store or library, I probably read the inside jacket cover or the back of the book.  If I am shopping online,  I will have already read the summary.  I want to know if you loved it, hated it, was it a simple read, or was it a great read for the beach.

The other thing I really, really dislike are spoilers.  I mean, does this really make you happy that you can ruin the experience for potential readers?  It's like going to the movies and some moron blurts out something in the middle  of it that's so crucial to the rest of the show.  People who write reviews that have spoilers WITHOUT a disclaimer at the beginning simply suck.  They do.

And finally, the last thing I dislike about book reviews is when a reviewer bashes the author's character, personality, and Mama.  It's a book, and unless it's touted as non-fiction, a memoir, an autobiography, or based on true events, it's more than likely make-believe.  There's a difference between stating in a review that an author's writing style or prose is poor, but it's a totally different thing to say that the author is a horrible person.  Unless he is your neighbor and steals your newspaper every morning, you really don't have any idea what he's like as a fellow human being.

When I decided to start writing reviews of the dozens of books that I read each year, I went in search of the elements of a good book review.  I found that it's pretty much the same across the board whether it was a college or educational website or another book reviewer providing the information.  The common theme is that book reviews are personal, a reaction to the work, and there is no right or wrong way to write one.  I believe that an author probably wants the truth, but given in a constructive way.  A book  can be poorly written, and I will still enjoy the story and message.  A book can be beautifully written and I can dislike it.

I've mentioned that I read a lot.  I read for enjoyment and entertainment.  I read to escape the daily stress in my life, and I find reading relaxing.  I read for the pleasure of the written word, and when I read something that I enjoy, I want the ability to share that experience with others; therefore, the book review portion of my blog.  There's a little tab above that says Book Reviews - it's going away - it may already be gone by the time you are reading this.  When you visit My Life With Seashells, you will read the book reviews right on the page without having to search for them or load another page.

I welcome challenges and comments regarding any post on My Life With Seashells.  I will engage in intelligent, adult conversations regarding anything that is written here.  I'm really a pretty simple girl; I just want to make this an enjoyable experience for everyone, myself included.  If I can make someone happy through a review and recommend a book that they end up enjoying as much as I have, then I will consider myself successful.

I promise to be real.  I will not promise that I will read only "real, paper books".  I have a Kindle, I am in love with my Kindle, and many of the books that I read are on my Kindle (his name is Vinny).  I also check books out of my local library, and I utilize the hell out of PaperBack Swap.  I've been known to borrow books from family or friends, and pick them up at flea markets or garage sales.  I have books all over my house on shelves and on display.  I'm an equal opportunity reader (the operative word is READER) - I don't discriminate against electronic or printed format.

I promise to write reviews that are honest and succinct.  I won't ever write a review that has spoilers.  Even if I saw the author spit on a little old lady, I probably wouldn't hold that against his or her writing, so I can promise you that I won't bash their writing character.  I won't drone on and on with summarization, because you can read the summary easier than I can write it.

There you have it!  My Book Review Oath, My Pinky Swear.

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