Instead of writing book reviews in which I analyse books and lay out the reasons you might like or hate them, I write not-reviews… which don’t. But they are more fun.
You might have noticed I don’t write book reviews, though recently I have been writing a fair few not-reviews in which Sebastian and Rain rant or rave about something I’ve been reading.
I know I’ve talked about why I don’t want to recommend books. Today I’m going to (try and figure out and then) explain my logic for writing not-reviews.
I probably have a number of good reasons. Let’s see if we can work out what they are.
Reason 1: Most books reviews are dull
Not your book reviews, obviously. Your book reviews are more exciting than a ferret chase on roller skates.
I mean book reviews by ordinary people (who are not you).
They can be valuable if you’re trying to decide whether you might enjoy a book, but there’s a good chance you’ll fall asleep before you get to the end of the review. In that case, you’ll never know if you should read the book.
I write not-reviews with the idea my reader (that’s you!) doesn’t care about the book. And then I try to keep you awake.
Only you can tell me if I succeed.
Reason 2: Not-reviews aren’t expected to contain objective truth
I don’t know how many times I need to say this, but I know nothing about literature beyond what they taught me in sixth form English.
And I’ve forgotten most of that.
If I sat down to write a review, I’d feel obliged to dissect the elements of character, plot, and theme, to pontificate over how the use of the colour orange illuminates Archibald’s guilt over his incestuous love for Ariadne and how the juxtaposition of the blue fishpond…
In some not-reviews I don’t mention plot or theme at all. Or character.
I certainly don’t try to tell you the value of them, because what do I know?
You read a review expecting to hear about all these things, but you read a not-review expecting not to.
And I do my best to deliver.
Reason 3: Usually I can’t figure out how I feel about a book
You might have noticed most of my not-reviews involve Sebastian and Rain arguing with each other. There are several good reasons for this.
Okay, “good” is arguable. There are several reasons for this.
First, it saves me having to settle on one opinion about the book.
Books are complicated things. Often I’ll love one aspect and hate another. Sometimes I’ll love an aspect for one reason and hate the same aspect for a different reason.
Having Sebastian and Rain disagree about the book saves me having to figure out which view, if either, is superior.
Second, we all know conflict is vital to a scene.
I argue that applies to book reviews too.
Dragons are another thing that make any scene better. I don’t think most of my not-reviews have had dragons, though some have. I may have to remedy that.
Reason 4: Not-reviews let me spew my totally subjective emotional reaction to the book all over the (blog) page
And some people tell me this helps them decide whether to read the book.
I’d call that success.
[ETA: Note I do write book reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, just not in my blog.]
You can find my not-reviews (and some other stuff) here.
Do you find book reviews (or not-reviews) helpful for deciding what to read? What kind of information is most useful?
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