I'm joining Book Blogger Confessions hosted by Karen at For What It's Worth Reviews, Tiger at All Consuming Media and Midnyte Reader.
This is today's question:
How do you handle that as a blogger who is used to critical thinking and analysis? Do you pretend you never read the book - never to be reviewed or added to your Goodreads shelf?
Do you write a review but maybe apologize and make excuses as to why you enjoyed it or are you bold and proud of any book you enjoyed?
Conversely - have you read a classic, that is considered a literary gem but you just didn't get it? Are you embarrassed to admit that or do you review it anyway?
My answer: YES to both!
I'm not a literary critic or a professional reviewer. Yes, I was an English major in college, but it's been a while since I wrote an essay.
I review YA, and in my opinion, reading YA is an emotional experience as well as a literary one. Thus, while my reviews take into account the quality of a book's writing, that is probably not be the deciding factor in whether or not I enjoy a book.
If I think that a book is beautifully written, I usually point that out in my review. Like I did here. And here.
If a book is not working for me, I try to figure out why. Once in a while, the answer is "bad writing." More often, the problem is in the plotting, or the pacing, or the tone. If I can't connect to any of the characters, I get bored and don't really care what happens.
I'm not embarrassed to say that I have found some classics and so-called "literary gems" incredibly boring.
But there are lots of classics that I've happily read and re-read. A few of my favorites are House of Mirth by Edith Wharton, To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf, Washington Square by Henry James, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, and An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser.
Finally, my review -- any review -- is only one opinion. Others may disagree, and that's great. I love reading a book and then finding out that someone else has a completely different take on it. That's one of the things I love about blogging.
What do you think about this topic? Tell me in comments!
yes and yes! I'm not much into literary gem classics lol Reading is an experience and I get so bored with classics. If it isn't hitting an emotional spot on me and I'm not into the stories or characters then I just won't enjoy it. The same goes for the popular books that I sometimes don't like. I'm trying to think of some like The Fallen series by Lauren Kate. Don't really like that one. But I do like Halo which a lot of people criticize. I also like Fifty Shades and Beautiful Disaster which a lot of people hate because they just don't like the relationship the characters share which is understandable but I like a bit of relationship drama in my books. Keeps them entertaining and addicting.ReplyDelete
I agree -- with both literary books and more popular ones -- either I connect to it or I don't.Delete
You brought up a good point about YA- it is the emotional connection that usually wins out over writing technique for me. And the classic that I couldn't get into- The Last of the Mohicans, which I attempted to read in high school after loving the movie. It was a traumatizing attempt that left me feeling like English was not my first language. :)ReplyDelete
I think that is why some authors who are very accomplished in other genres try to write YA and don't really hit the nail on the head.Delete
I mean, I don't want to suggest that quality of writing doesn't matter, but that alone is not enough to make a successful YA book -- or any book, in my opinion.
Dude Last of the Mohicans is like... the historical equivalent of a mass market paperback.... Mark Twain blasted that writer. It was hilarious.Delete
I find a lot of literary classics boring and tedious and I'm not ashamed to admit it (except when it comes to my cousins and Pride & Prejudice, I'll probably never tell them I didn't like it). I like some books too that people will criticize for not being well written or has plot holes or whatever. You said it best - it's my opinion and others may have different opinions.ReplyDelete
I think some older classics have a much slower pace and sometimes a different narrative style and those can be very hard for modern readers to adjust to!Delete
I always feel like my reviews are based on emotion. I'm not a professional reviewer (not even an English Lit major like many of my fellow bloggers) so it just boils down to how I *felt* about a book.ReplyDelete
I don't like how some people differenciate between the classics and YA/erotica/contemporary romance etc. If it means something to you - whether it makes you laugh or cry then it's an important book.
Having the degree means that I read more classics way back when, but it doesn't make my opinion any more valid. Reading is a personal experience and reviewing is subjective.Delete
That's what I love about the democratization of book reviewing through the internet. A wider range of opinions can be heard, which I love!
I've definitely loved books that weren't literary gems-I still have a huge soft spot for the formulaic BSC books. They were so important to my childhood reading life and I think they're a big reason why I still love reading today.ReplyDelete
I didn't get Catcher in the Rye until my husband pointed out that Holden is in a mental institution: then I got it.Delete
True dat with reviews being emotional and also being an MY opinion. I don't always like the same books as someone else but having them dislike makes it more interesting to know why.ReplyDelete
Exactly! I think the best reviews are those that really explain the reader's reaction to the book. Often that kind of review will point out things I never even thought of!Delete
I begin to wonder if I should be putting a warning on my reviews. Warning: This post contains my feelings and thoughts on this book. I am in no way a professional reviewer.ReplyDelete
I actually said that in my Review Policy.Delete
I said the same thing...that it's the difference of opinions that I love about blogging. You are right about YA too...even adult genre writers are always talking about how they like YA because it is emotional. It seems like everyone can connect to them...everyone went through something that was touched upon in a book.ReplyDelete
Adolescence is such an emotional time -- reading YA just brings it all back. And the insecurities that teens have -- who am I, where do I fit in -- are very relatable!Delete
See, why am I not surprised to read that you were an English major?:)ReplyDelete
I agree with you, reading YA is more of an emotional experience, but I love when you find that great YA book that not only takes you on a wild ride emotionally, but inspires critical thinking as well.
And yes, I can love the utterly cheesy just as much as the pretentious classic:)
And I'm a college graduate but have no problem admitting that I stumble through Jane Austen (but love the Bronte sisters) and will probably never make it through a reading of War and Peace:)
If a book is good I will read it. Even with some errors or cheesyness, if it sounds good then I won't mind. I too won't be embarrassed to say if a classic is boring but I just tend to stay away from them.ReplyDelete
I don't mind an error or two but if a book has tons of spelling and grammar errors, I stop reading. Luckily that rarely happens to me!Delete
I agree Jen! As a blogger you usually gusg about why you love the book, or dislike it and then you would like analysis how the action and romance where. I really should join Blogger Confession! LOL :D I just started my first day as a freshman!ReplyDelete
Yes, join in. It's really fun.Delete
And yay for starting high school!
Whew! At least I'm not the only one who thinks "literary gems" are boring. Seriously. YA books are so much better than some classics! In fact, I can barely understand those. :/ReplyDelete
I don't think all literary gems are boring, really! I think boring books can be found in every genre.Delete
If I enjoy a book I am quite happy to shout it from the rooftops. I may be more subtle & diplomatic if I don't like a book.ReplyDelete
There are many classic reads that just don't do it for me. There are also many I absolutely love.
We are very much alike :)Delete
I'm relieved to see Gatsby on here. I totally stop reading blogs if I find out the blogger doesn't like it. :)ReplyDelete
Whew. Glad I included that on my list. I've read it at least ten times.Delete
Great new mime to your blog, Jen! I love all the comments. It's always interesting to see what people think. I will probably be a little out of the norm here (which is totally fine and is what is great about blogging - it is so subjective thank goodness!).ReplyDelete
I love classics. In fact I have a whole illustrated collection of them and I would have to say that they are some of the best books I have ever read. Some of these books include Robin Hood, Westward Ho (heartbreaking and beautiful and definitely emotional), and Scottish Chiefs (Braveheart is based on this one). I first read these when I was quite a bit younger (like tweens), so obviously they held my interest and they don't all have happy endings. I also love Austen and Dickens (David Copperfield is one of my favorite books) and of course Jane Eyre. Some of the classics are overly lengthy, but are still really good books, such as The Count of Monte Cristo and Les Miserables. They really could have been shorter!
My opinion on the classics is that some of them are boring, but so are a lot of today's works. I do think, however, that the classics offer more of an intellectual challenge compared to today's YA as they normally make me a better thinker and writer when I read them. I also think that too many of today's' books are just page-turners and we have such an overstimulated society. I think it's good to be able to appreciate a slower book with really good writing, plot, and characters, that doesn't have something exciting going on all the time. Of course I like some page-turners too, I just think it's good to be open to and enjoy reading different types of books.
My biggest deal breaker with books regardless if they're classics or YA is if I feel the characters are real, not necessarily real scenarios or plots, but that they act as I think they should and that the plot actually has some depth to it. I also have to like the characters somewhat. If I think the MC is just unintelligent, ungenuine, or really immoral, I just won't like the book. I've also found how I feel about a book depends on my mood. There are some books I loved reading where the writing and plot aren't all that great, but I was in the mood for a quick romantic read and that's what I got. ;)
I am really happy you left this comment, Tressa!Delete
I could not agree with you more when you say that it's important to read books that challenge you intellectually. I think you can find that experience in different genres, including YA.
I truly believe that every reader can find a classic they like!
Sometimes I'm embarassed to admit I like certain books, but I will still add them to my Goodreads!!ReplyDelete
As for classics, I've been trying to read more of them, luckily there are a lot in my 100 book challenge.. So I've found a lot I like actually! Jane Eyre, Catcher in the Rye, The Great Gatsby and Anna Karenina. I also love Jack London! I took a stab at Ulysess.. *shudder* I gave up 10% through because I couldn't follow it..
You mean James Joyce? Yeah, he's tough going, at least for me :)Delete
Great answers! I really like this meme--I might have to join in someday. But I already participate in so many!ReplyDelete
I love how most bloggers do always express that their review is simply their opinion, and others may have completely different opinions. I try to do this all the time, especially when I don't particularly love a book. Unfortunately there are tons of people out there that forget that an opinion is just that--an opinion, not something that is right or wrong, and when we're writing reviews, we're writing our opinions. And we're all going to have different opinions! Luckily it seems like most bloggers live by this, whether they're writing reviews or reading others.
Really REALLY bad writing is a turn off for me (like no editing, spelling and grammar errors all over the place) but if the story is compelling, I can often still finish the book and give it a fairly good rating. But those writing errors will definitely lose them points.
Completely agree -- but it's pretty rare to find tons of spelling and grammar errors in a traditionally pubbed book.Delete
Mistakes do happen. I was reading the book blog of a national newspaper and in a children's book review they referred to the "Newbury medal." So that makes me feel better about my few typos. They happen. I try to be kind cause I'm not perfect either.