Reviewing books that I have read is occasionally hard work. I know what it is to get a good review on a book you have written and I know what it is to get a bad review on a book you have written. There are times when someone reviews my books and offers a critical review that the review makes me a better writer and then are times when I read a review of my book that I wonder what they are talking about. I always look at the other books the person reviews. A few times I found that every book the reviewer reviewed got a bad or lukewarm review.
I felt honored at one review early on for my Granny Hooks A Crook on Goodreads. The reader gave me a four because she had just read The Help and gave The Help a five star rating. I felt honored for the four star rating she had given me.
I have given a lot of thought to what I say and how I say it when I review a book. I don’t ever want to skewer an author’s works because I know what it takes to get from start to finish, putting your heart into those words that are written for all to see in a book.
I did learn something from that reader that gave me a four because she had read The Help first. I think of that when I am clicking on those stars. A five blows me away. A four keeps me turning the pages, investing part of myself in the book by laughing, crying and feeling connected to the characters. A three has me leaving a little advice, gentle advice as to what could make it a little more to my taste. I never leave a 1 or 2.
Having said that I must also keep in mind when reading, whether the genre of the book is for me. I could easily give a one star to a history book no matter how well written and how fascinating the story was. I am not a history buff nor am I a historical romance buff so those books would get low stars from me. Is it the books fault that I didn’t like it? Is it the authors fault I didn’t like it? It merely would mean that I had no business thinking I should read the book because everyone else was gaga over it. And I’m not talking about Lady Gaga.
I try to read books occasionally that are out of my comfort zone and interest. Occasionally I am surprised and keep on reading. When I find a book that I start, and am yawning by the second or third chapter, I know it is out of my interest zone. I usually forgo leaving a comment or rating it. I do the same if there is a book that I start and absolutely do not like because of the writing. I do not rate it or leave a comment unless I am absolutely committed to leaving a review. Then I gently word what I have to say.
That is the way I rate books. I do not need to destroy a writer’s confidence or character. I do not need to attack their writing if the book is not what I feel is worth reading. Writers put their sweat, tears, heart and soul into a book and most of the time is for the sheer joy of writing.
If you are writer reading this, don’t let anyone destroy your love of writing. If you are a reader, think about your reviews. Are they accurate for what you are reviewing? And remember, be gentle with your criticism, there is a real person behind those words.
Every book you pick up has its own lesson or lessons, and quite often the bad books have more to teach than the good ones.