Diary Entry #2

8:35 AM 3/9/2017

I opened my email this morning and came across this quote:

He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.
Muhammad Ali – 1942-2016, Professional Boxer

Taking risks when selecting a book is overlooked and never really talked about. Often, readers will select a book based solely on a terse recommendation from a friend.

What about a carefully crafted book review? 

I'm not talking about reviews posted on Amazon or Goodreads. While they may be honest impressions, they are not reviews of the story or the overall quality of the novel, or whatever structure is used (novella, short story, anthology, etc.)

I recently had a conversation with a colleague about the movie Get Out. I was given his "impression" of the movie, which was guarded as he didn't want to give away the plot or ending. This similar reply is given when readers post reviews.

Do these types of "reviews" help authors? 

Some will utter a resounding "yes". I, on the other hand, shout "NO!".  Giving an “impression” may spur others to purchase a book, only to leave them wondering why the book left that impression. This leads to a cluster of “reviews” stating different “impressions”.

Giving an impression doesn't tell the reader anything about the story.

When a reviewer, or in my case a colleague, shares their impression, they are merely giving you a window into their mind. From a psychological standpoint, they have told you how the story affected them. This is fine, if you want to know this little piece of irrelevant information. But, if you want a sneak peek into the book, after having read the "peek inside" ( if the book is on Amazon), the "impression" does not provide that.

So, what goes into a carefully crafted review?

A well-written review provides a glimpse of the setting, while also providing information on the overarching themes presented in the book. Whether it is upmarket, literary, or commercial, the review should tell the reader about the motivation of the characters and provide a sneak peek at the plot, while not giving away too many details or the ending.

To quote or not to quote...the question has never really been answered.

Some book reviewers like to share their favorite quotes. I guess this ok, but I really don't understand why sharing a favorite quote is key. Perhaps, if the quote is shared in context it is ok.

Ok diary...did I mention the entire blogosphere can read this? Ok...I have digressed.

My point is simple: Taking risks when reading is serious, especially for those highly sensitive people who feel everything and have not mastered the skill of preventing transference. But, you have to take some risks, right?

How does the quote from the great Ali even relate to books and reviewing?

Book reviews help readers reduce the inherent risk of picking of a novel and being let down, or worse - sent into a never-ending spiral of depression and despair. Dramatic?  Yes. True? You bet!

A book review should not only analyze the story, but also give the reader a glimpse of the literary journey ahead. 

Whether smutty romance stories or an in-depth exploration of the world, literature is supposed to help you learn and enjoy this life.
The reader who is not courageous enough open the pages of a book and take the inherent  risks of obtaining (hopefully) useful knowledge will accomplish nothing in life.  Skillfully crafted book reviews will help minimize this risk and provide the reader a sense of hope.

Talk with you later.