This week’s post is more of an editorial, mostly because I just moved to another state and last week was my first week at the new job. Which, on a personal note, was one of the hardest weeks I’ve ever had at a job! So, not a lot of time for reading, but I do have a topic I would like to reflect on.
Why do we write book reviews?
I’ve already written about why I have this blog, and very little has changed since I started this on October 2011. (Wow, just realized it has been two years since I started this blog!). I began it because I love reading books, and I have always had a passion for writing. At one point I thought I would be a famous writer, and I guess my desire to be famous was stronger than my talent.
But I suppose we all do this thing called book review because we think we could be helpful to other readers. Of course there is a part of me that understand that publishing feeds our egos, “hey, someone else thinks we have value!” But at least for me, it is just an opportunity to be of worth in our society, to say that our actions made a difference, no matter how insignificant to others.
Where do we write book reviews?
There are many places that we can do these expressions of opinion: personal blogs, group blogs (think places like Smart Bitches, Trashy Books), or other public places like Amazon or Goodreads.
The first thing you have to ask yourself is this though: when it is not your personal blog, “what is the agenda for the site?” Because, unfortunately, any time money is involved (and hosting a huge review site IS a business not a philanthropic endeavor).
Yes, I am hinting (not so discretely) about the shenanigans that have gone on recently regarding the buy-out of Goodreads by Amazon and the controversy of possible censorship that has occurred since then.
I am not going to weigh-in on that specifically, other than to say that the original purpose of Goodreads was for “readers”, not publishers of novels. With the purchase of Amazon and the changes in policies within Goodreads, it appears that the purposing now is more toward selling books as opposed to having open, honest discussion regarding books.
That brings me back to the original question, “why do we write book reviews?”
We Love Books and the Characters
Remember the last book that you read that drove you to cry at 3:00am? You risked being late to work/school, but you could not put the book down because the characters were going through something that was so griping and so compelling that you just could not put the book down.
When you got into work, did you talk about the book to all of your co-workers? Maybe, depends on the office, but most likely they do not have your Sterek obsession, they would certainly think that a woman in her 30s should not have such a passion about a show called Teen Wolf and the fan-fiction that has since spawned.
Now, imagine a place (a safe place) where you could discuss how that book affected your life and what was great about it and perhaps what was not so great about it. I used to think that places like Goodreads might be able to house that safe-haven, but I think now we have to understand that any place that operates for business, for money, will only listen to the highest bidder. And you and I, my lovelies, will never be the highest bidder.
Where Do We Go From Here?
I so can’t help but think of the Buffy episode now.
For me, my voice will always be here at my blog. I can control it (for the most part), I pay for it and certainly no one has asked me to change my opinion. There have been some discussions along the way with authors, when I have not been rainbows and bunnies about their novels, but not one has asked me to take my post down.
When you are at a place like Amazon or Goodreads, there are things that we sign (you know all that legalese we just click-through when we sign up) that basically signs our rights away. So, part of me just says to “suck it up.” The answer then is, “if you don’t like their policy, then leave.” And believe me if their 20 million readers all decided to use another platform, they would no longer get the financial backing that they have now. Am I advocating that? Not sure. Again, I really has no dog in this fight now. I have noticed the bullying in the past 6 months from groups who (even have stalked) posters because they did not post fawning posts about an author or a book.
Is There Anywhere That is Safe From Trolls?
Do any of you play MMOs like World of Warcraft? It seems, no matter where you go, there will be some punk that will spawn kill you, talk about your mother is not so flattering terms, or steal your stuff. Unfortunately, the anonymity of being online means more ass-hats. Book reviews are apparently no different.
However, I have set up an account over at Booklikes you can see me at (http://bea.booklikes.com). It has allowed me to import all of my book from goodreads. But those book reviews at Goodreads? They could all be gone some day.
So I think going forward, this place, Bea’s Hive is where I put what I am most passionate about, where I can have a “voice”. This is the beginning of year 3 for me in blogging and book reviewing and I have no intention of stopping. I love reading about romance, and I love talking about these characters as if they are really alive. If there was ever a time when I could not give my honest opinion about how I felt in my experiences, then it would be time to stop blogging.
So, I suppose my answer is that Bea’s Hive will always be the first place I go to review a book. Place like Goodreads or Booklikes is where I will go to receive information from others, but I am not sure if I will ever feel like “bearing my heart” there. Although Booklikes seems to be a place that is more “blog-like”, I still feel like I am talking in someone else’s house rather than from the security of my own.
What is important to me is being true to oneself. Hokey, huh? But I do this because I love books and love being honest about my opinions. So when I write a blogpost/review, what I want to do is inform others. It does not matter if I like or hate a book, the point is that if we value books, we must also value all discussions. As Thomas Huxley once said, “Freedom and order are not incompatible… truth is strength… free discussion is the very life of truth.”