The Difficulties of Book Reviewing

February 6, 2013     The Bluestocking Bookworm     Books, Random Thoughts, Reading

So, today I finished another book. This time it was a book for the book club I am a part of. It is a fairly well-known book, and until today I had been planning on writing a review of it for the blog.

And then I started thinking about it. Here we have a book that is read by high school students every year. It has been the subject of much debate. Then I come along, and I want to review it.

What if I didn’t notice the right things about the book? What if my views aren’t strongly framed enough? And I tend to forget the time at which books were written, and just take them as they are. Is that going to be a problem? Instead of putting forward a well-formed opinion, what if I start looking like a blithering idiot?

Do I have any right at all to review a book that is so well-known? And if I don’t like it, is it reprehensible to mention that I didn’t enjoy the book? I mean, classics are classics for a reason.

Is this post about confidence? I guess partially. But I sit here, looking at my copy of this book, thinking to myself that as much as I want to review it, I just can’t. It would seem presumptuous of me when better people than me have torn it apart and put it back together word for word.

So then, what makes the other books I review so much better? Is it not presumptuous of me to try to review them as well?

Ah, the intricacies and difficulties of book reviewing.

3 responses to “The Difficulties of Book Reviewing

  1. WP,
    Billy Shakespeare, in Measure by Measure, wrote in his usual pithy way, “Our doubts are traitors, and makes us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt.”
    You have every right to review any book you want. You’re the reader, you ARE the critic. Now, that doesn’t mean that you speak on behalf of any particular organization, foundation, or readership, but you do speak for yourself. This is the reason you have this blog in the first place, right? You can’t just start a blog like this with the intention that you had for it and begin only now to vacillate on its purpose.
    You have reviewed a ton of books up to this point, all with your own stance and language. You gave it the grade that it deserved in your book and that’s the reason you have this blog. If people love it, great. If people hate it, great. Either way, that’s their opinion. Others are going to judge you whether you make something of your life and live with a purpose, or sit there and do nothing until you die. You might as well live with a purpose and do what you want. And, as far as I can tell, you’ve rather been enjoying writing reviews.
    If you want to review Huxley’s work, he’s given you that opportunity. His gift was the work, your gift is the reaction. Yes, this book has been used for years in high school curricula and, I venture, it will be used for many more years. You do have a right to review this book, the same way you have a right to disagree with any statement out of anyone’s mouth. It’s their statement and it’s your rebuttal. If the whole literary world believes something is fabulous, and you think it’s shit, then your opinion is still valid, even if the masses disagree with you. Generations of people (dead and alive) have lauded Shakespeare for his writing, but there are also a ton of people who think he blows as a writer. You will never ever please everyone – fact. You can always please yourself – also a fact.
    Write what you write and stand where you stand. And it’s not about whether someone will disagree with you; there’s always at least one who most certainly will. The point is, you don’t care, because you read the book and had the balls to at least put effort into forming an opinion, so they can suck it.
    They’ll love you and hate you all at the same time. But all that matters to you is doing what you want.
    Write the review.

    • LP, I was trying to think of a way to word a response, but simple words are best sometimes. Thank you. I got tangled up in the fact that it is a “classic”, when it really shouldn’t have tripped me up that much.

      Great comment, and no worries – the reviews will keep coming.

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