Welcome to Sugarbeat’s Books!
Today we are going to do something a bit different. A collection of bloggers have gotten together to share our thoughts following the most recent uproar on social media regarding the actions of an author in response to some sharing their thoughts about her book.
We invite you to not only read all our thoughts, but to join us with your thoughts. Either leave comments on one of the posts, or create your own and in blogger fashion – link your post to ours using the Linky Thing at the bottom of my post.
Reviewers vs Book Bloggers vs Readers
Yet again, we find ourselves in the middle of a fervor over another author and Goodreads member interaction gone bad. Every time a situation like this occurs on social media, terms are thrown around like weapons. “Authors” point at “Book Bloggers” and vice versa. “Authors comment on the skill level of ‘Reviewers.” It seems that anyone who shares their thoughts on books is called a “reviewer“, but are they? And why is it necessary for us to use these term?
I’m a science grad, so I’m really big on definitions! Let’s define these terms.
When I look the term ‘Reviewer’ up in the dictionary I find the following:
- a person who writes critical appraisals of books, plays, movies, etc., for publication.
- a person who formally assesses or examines something with a view to changing it if necessary.
I looked up the term ‘reviewer’ in several dictionaries and the definitions were all very similar. They all contained the words formal and critical. In other words, a reviewer creates something that is well thought out, detailed, possibly follows an accepted pattern and involves finding pros and cons.
Seems like a pretty complicated thing, this review! Sounds like something that I’ve read in major newspapers or some leading literary publications. Honestly, it sounds like something I would read in the New York Times, not something that I would write on my blog.
Is there any wiggle room in the term ‘Reviewer?’ For example, some Reviewers seem to have a professional certification in the task of reviewing? I would image Reviewers that work for some of the major publications have some qualifications that I don’t have – degree in Literature or Creative Writing at the very least. I don’t have these qualifications – I just have a love of books.
So maybe we should have “Reviewers” and ‘reviewers.’ When we create two types of reviewers, we allow for professionals and amateurs.
Let’s think on this for a bit.
A Book Blogger is someone who has created a blog or website where they talk about books. The key point here is that they need the website or blog. Someone who talks about books on their Facebook page is someone who talks about books on their Facebook page – they are NOT Book Bloggers. Likewise, someone who shares their thoughts about books on Amazon or Goodreads but does not have a blog or website is also NOT a Book Blogger.
Let’s think on this for a bit and move on to the term reader.
Let’s define a reader as anyone who picks up the written word in whatever language and peruses it. Notice I didn’t say ‘read.’ I’m a voracious reader, but sometimes when I pick up a book, I skim. I wouldn’t say I read. Sometimes I’m trying to get to the ‘good part’…
Readers are pretty cool people, if I do say so myself. If you sit down beside someone reading a book – on the subway, in the dance studio, or wherever you find one – and ask them “Is that book good?” They’ll tell you. They may tell you in one word, or you may start a half hour conversation. Most readers love to share their opinion of the books that they read. When you get to the end of a good book, don’t you just want to talk about it with someone? I know that I do.
Let’s talk about the places you can talk or share about that book that you just finished reading. For those of us who kick it old school, we tell a friend. We meet them for coffee or pick up the phone and gush over how great a book was. When we go into work the next day, we tell coworkers.
I have a book blog and I share my thoughts about the books that I love on my blog. I don’t have anyone in my real life that reads the same books that I do, but I have many followers who share my reading tastes. What is also interesting is that I can share my thoughts with people around the world. Within minutes of my posting some thoughts about a book, my friend from Qatar can be reading them. Pretty cool! I don’t just share my thoughts with one or two people, I share them with thousands.
A reader that doesn’t have a blog or website (and even those who do) has other options than just sharing with a neighbor or co-worker. They can post their thoughts on a wide variety of platforms, including Goodreads, Booklikes, Shelfari, Library Thing, or any of the retailers (i.e. Amazon or Barnes & Noble).
Let’s face it, people have been sharing their thoughts on books for many, many years. They share their thoughts to the level of their ability.
Do we expect the same level of detail or knowledge from an amateur as a professional? Of course not, that would be silly. Would we expect the same level of coherency in a review from a 12 year old as we would from a university graduate with a degree in Literature? Of course not, that would also be silly. Just like in life, we don’t expect 12 year olds to have the same level of maturity as adults. But we still encourage them to share an opinion.
Would you be offended if someone sat beside you on the bus, asked you your opinion about the book you were reading, and then told you, you weren’t old enough to have an opinion? Or told you that because you don’t have a university degree, that your opinion is invalid. I know I would be.
I rarely pay attention to ‘professional’ reviews. I put more stock in what my friends say about a book. I also frequently pick up a book because of something I read in a fellow blogger’s review – especially a negative review. Either I can’t believe that a book I was looking forward to reading is REALLY THAT BAD and I need to find out for myself, or something that my friend finds objectionable makes me want to read that book.
Do we want to live in a society where only other authors can have an opinion on books? Wouldn’t that be the same as one where only chefs can tell us if our meal is good, and only other artists can have an opinion of a painting?
I don’t want to live in that kind of world. I love the look on the face of someone who just read a book that I recommended to them. Equally, I love an hour’s discussion on the pros and cons of a book the lady sitting next to me at the dance studio is reading. This makes my day, if not, my whole week sometimes.
I’m very careful with words. I’m an author. Am I splitting hairs over terms? When they are used as weapons, you betcha.
Instead of using the labels of ‘Reviewer’ or ‘Book Blogger’ as weapons, or dismissing someone’s opinion about a book that they have just finished reading, shouldn’t we be thankful for 2 things:
1) The fact that someone is talking about a book – I would think that silence is worse
2) The fact that books are being bought and authors are being paid.
To think that someone expressing a negative comment about a book will ruin a career is to dismiss the intelligence of readers. In fact, if negative reviews ruin an author’s career, JK Rowlings and EL James should not be millionaires!
We don’t have to be ‘Book Bloggers’ or ‘Reviewers’ to determine the difference between someone venting in a nasty way and someone sharing their honest thoughts about a book they have just read. Most readers can do that.
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