A friend of a Facebook friend of mine had some very strong opinions on who is capable of reviewing books. Basically bloggers are no good. We are taking jobs away from properly trained journalists, who do it for a living. They know how to, and we don’t. I was a little shocked.
You can summarise the plot of a book and call it a review. Many bloggers use the amazon blurb or the back of the book blurb or the press release blurb. Mostly they then add some thoughts of their own. But I can’t help feeling that it’s cheating a little. Many of us have already read the blurb elsewhere.
Some quite big names who review for newspapers also spend rather a big chunk of their allotted number of words on summarising the novel before they come to the point. If that’s who she had in mind, then it would seem it’s not just useless bloggers who are useless.
So what do I do?
I’ve more or less decided against regular reviews of books here. (No, don’t stop sending them, please!) By that I mean that there is no way this formerly ‘so useless at analysing literature at all that her teacher almost cried’ blogger can do a ‘real’ review. No point in trying. I can’t say ‘the author’s use of *** indicates that ***’ and make it sound right.
Some ‘properly trained professionals’ give away the ending, often with no warning. So do bloggers. I’m sure I’ve done it, very occasionally. Sometimes it’s impossible to talk about something while avoiding certain facts.
I think my intention with what I do is to say what the book meant to me, with some personal reference on some level or other. If it’s not a new book, but one I read years ago, it makes sense to mention why I’m going on about it now. And I do mention what other family members have said about a book, despite seeing somewhere that this is so not interesting. OK, saying ‘my child loved this book’ doesn’t prove anything. But if you know that Daughter very reluctantly reads certain books, then the fact that she tore a book out of my hands is relevant. I think.
There must be a reason I’m going on about this now… Oh yes, I’ve just embarked on what feels like a marathon list of books to mention. Reading lots of books, and then giving them some kind of mention here, is almost counter productive to writing a fascinating blog about books.
When I regularly provide you with photos and/or lists of what I’ve just received in the post; please take me out and shoot me. That day is closer than I’d hoped, having just had a ‘reading priority’ talk with me and my aunt’s pink armchair (where the recent arrivals were resting), and catching myself thinking that I could do some of those combined posts and get rid of a few books that way.