I wonder if you know me well enough to have noticed how completely, ridiculously excruciating it was for me to write that last book review. I heart Blair, or Lisa Whelchel, as I always add for appropriateness. And I didn’t love the book (though hopefully I clarified that muy mucho of my own issues went into that love loss), and I didn’t want to review it at all.
There are so few books out there that I can review these days and maintain the stranger mentality with them. I.e., have you read book reviews on Amazon? These reviewers have no concern, great or small, that they will ever meet that author in person. Sometimes they can’t possibly remember the author is a person. And it’s so easy to slash and tear apart and criticize the art of people who aren’t people.
Like the quote above, I really only love a handful of books. The handful is getting a lot bigger these days, but it’s still a small percentage of all the books I’ve read or begun. And by “love” I mean, like Anne says, that they are a friend. And I’ve noticed recently that sometimes books become my friend partly because the author is my friend. It’s one reason I find the star system so horribly inadequate.
And here’s the further complication. It’s not like I actually know very many published authors. But I’ve seen them on twitter, I’ve read their blogs. I’ve seen them gush about the writing process and talk about their own love for their characters and their writing. And suddenly, I’m not objectively reading words on paper anymore. I’m judging the hard work of a person I care about.
Here’s what I believe: Every person matters if you just give them time to matter. Everyone has a story if you just listen long enough. And these days, when it comes to reading and reviewing, I’m having a terrible time judging what I hear after I’ve taken the time to listen.
I don’t know if I’ll keep doing the book review thing unless the book is a friend. It’s too hard admitting I didn’t enjoy something I know firsthand to have been very hard work.