Sunday, August 3, 2008

Sunday Salon -- A Great Book and I Love Book Bloggers

I was finally able to finish reading Somebody Else's Daughter by Elizabeth Brundage. Fantastic book. I'll be reviewing it on The Friendly Book Nook this week.

It's actually late Saturday night as I write this, but I plan to squeeze some reading in Sunday. A lazy day of reading sounds wonderful to me. A lazy day sounds wonderful to me! :)

My copy of Watchmen arrived! (Yes, I'm one of the people who rushed to Amazon to order it after seeing the movie trailer) On the cover it says that it's one of Time Magazine's 100 Best Novels. So much stuff to read in this little time. How will I ever read it all? I also got a copy of Blindness after seeing the trailer for it before the X-Files. (which, by the way, was totally lame) Have any of you read either of these? What did you think?

Well there's been much talk these last few weeks about the rapidly declining "traditional" book review (newspapers, print) being replaced by book bloggers. And then, how book bloggers shouldn't even attempt it--they are all clearly amateurs.

Perhaps there's some truth to it. I'm not a professional book reviewer. I'm highly subjective and pretty much get straight to the point...I liked this or I didn't. Summarizing a plot is the bane of my existence--I usually just use what the publisher does. I care about originality and I care about beautiful prose. I like character development, but I can take huge leaps of faith in the believability department. Pacing matters. Books that challenge me personally or alter my perspective get huge points. Sometimes I'll share with you how I came to read the book.

These are the sort of subjective elements of a review that are being criticized, but they are the exact reason I'll trust my fellow book bloggers over a big name newspaper review. Books are more than works of art released into the world to be judged on their individual elements, they are conversations. Reading a book is a chance for me to enter a whole new world, engage in a new thought process and learn something. A book on it's own doesn't matter so much as how I interacted with that book. Did it make me think? Did it entertain me? Do I see things a little differently for the hours of my life I gave the author to invade my world? This is what matters to me when I read about a book. And I generally trust book bloggers, who are not too snobby, to give me a fair perspective.

Blogging is my hobby, but I'm not going to's a hobby that takes a lot of time. I've spent money on both this blog and the Friendly Book Nook. And time. Lots of time. I don't have ads on the blogs, I don't do it for the money. I do it because I enjoy it. I do it to share my love and passion for books and art (and other things).

And I appreciate my fellow book bloggers. Book blogging takes time! It takes organization and reading time.

So the week of September 15th-19th is going to be Book Blogger Appreciation Week here. I really want to highlight what my fellow book bloggers are doing and share the love. I want to get as many bloggers involved as possible over all the different genres. So if you are interested in being involved, either hosting an award or meme at your site or being spotlighted, please leave a comment or email me. I'll be in touch with you as I work out all the details.

I didn't mean to go on for so long everyone! Sorry! I meant to leave my comment at the Huffington Post but you have to register and my registration wasn't active. Have a great Sunday of reading!


Kerrie said...

Book Blogger Appreciation week sounds interesting.

Ann said...

Hear, hear! I also had issue with Ms. Warren's essay. While I appreciate that there's a place for traditional book reviews, I think that it is far more important to make books relevant and fun for the average person. I think a passionate blogger writing about a book can do that far better than a literary critic in most cases.

At our site, we state up front that we don't "review" books -- we recommend them. We don't write/talk about books we don't like, because why waste the time and space? I'd rather get people excited to read the books I love.

I love the idea of Book Blogger Appreciation week! Let me know if I can help!

Lisa said...

I have only been book blogging since January, and it is my hobby too, but I LOVE it so much. And it does take a lot of time. I loved what you said about trusting your fellow book bloggers! Bravo! I recently wrote a review on a book that got a lot of attention in the media and everyone was saying wonderful things about it. I didn't care for the book or the writer (it was non-fiction) and I wrote an honest, direct review and I got so much positive feedback from it. People noticed I didn't fall in line with all the professional reviews and they appreciated my candor. That's why I love what I do! I applaud your efforts on the Book Blogger Appreciation Week! Good Luck!

J. Kaye Oldner said...

Love your idea of Book Blogger Appreciation Week. Let me know how I can help.

Stephanie said...

I'm with you. I blog because I like to do it. I don't get paid. And honestly, I didn't think anyone would actually ever read my blog.

I read book blogs because I have a connection with them. I've gotten to know their tastes, and I trust their opinions. Far more than the paid reviewers.

Blog Appreciation Week sounds awesome!! Let me know if you need any help!

bookroomreviews said...

I read that article too and it made me so mad how they can put down people like that. But controversy sells. Great idea and count me in!

John's comments said...

Yes I will need to buy the graphic novel now a film is on the way. I have given up on getting it as swap.

Yes the role of the traditional reviewer is changing. I am all in favour of rising blogging critics in that it makes it more democratic that the reader is the first line of critical response. The downside is the subjective review means that the author is often not placed in context or challenged on the merits of what they were trying to do.

I am first in line to throw out the reviewer when they are so full of their learning that they are not helping me understand the book. But these points drawing on the then National Book Critics Circle president John Freeman sums up where I am coming from.

1. Try to understand what the author wished to do, and do not blame him for not achieving what he did not attempt.

2. Give him enough direct quotation—at least one extended passage—of the book’s prose so the review’s reader can form his own impression, can get his own taste.

3. Confirm your description of the book with quotation from the book, if only phrase-long, rather than proceeding by fuzzy precis.

4. Go easy on plot summary, and do not give away the ending. (How astounded and indignant was I, when innocent, to find reviewers blabbing, and with the sublime inaccuracy of drunken lords reporting on a peasants’ revolt, all the turns of my suspenseful and surpriseful narrative! Most ironically, the only readers who approach a book as the author intends, unpolluted by pre-knowledge of the plot, are the detested reviewers themselves. And then, years later, the blessed fool who picks the volume at random from a library shelf.)

5. If the book is judged deficient, cite a successful example along the same lines, from the author’s ouevre or elsewhere. Try to understand the failure. Sure it’s his and not yours?

The post on then goes on to say quoting John Updyke

To these concrete five might be added a vaguer sixth, having to do with maintaining a chemical purity in the reaction between product and appraiser. Do not accept for review a book you are predisposed to dislike, or committed by friendship to like. Do not imagine yourself a caretaker of any tradition, an enforcer of any party standards, a warrior in an idealogical battle, a corrections officer of any kind. Never, never (John Aldridge, Norman Podhoretz) try to put the author “in his place,” making him a pawn in a contest with other reviewers. Review the book, not the reputation.

Julie P. said...

Love this idea! Let me know what you need!

literatehousewife said...

I also saw that on Minds Alive on the Shelf and about blew a gasket. On top of the scewering Entertainment Weekly gave to The Gargoyle and this, I don't really know what to say. As for me, and I'm going to leave this same kind of comment on Lisa's site, if I wanted to write about a book's genre, the cannon, etc, I would go back to school and get my doctorate. My blog started as a way for me to express myself and my love of books. I'm not trying to get a "good grade," impress a professor, or write a book on literary criticism. In a way, my blog is a journal about my reading and if no one else in the world ever read it (but I'm glad that people have), my blog has met its purpose. Enough said.

I love the idea of book blogger week. I'll do anything to help you with it. I can sweep floors or even clean the toilets if that helps (When I get angry, I start scrubbing).

Lenore said...

I just went over and read the article and I think your "rebuttal" was very well put!

I'd love to help out with your blogger appreciation week, so let me know what I can do :)

Wendy said...

Great post, Amy! I love your idea of blogger appreciation week - and I'd love to be involved! You also sent me an email a couple of weeks ago that I haven't yet responded to - my life has been chaotic! BUT I have saved it and WILL respond :)

Amy said...

Thanks for chiming in everyone! Most of us agree...I also see where you are coming from John.

Ann..I's not really reviews I do so much as giving my impressions.

I'm so glad you guys are on board for Book Blogger Appreciation Week! I'll email you this week with my ideas. :)

Lisa, that's awesome that your book got so much attention! pressure! I understand life can get crazy!

Yasmin said...

Book Blogger Appreciation Week--I'm interested.

Heather J. said...

First off, you go girl! I totally agree with your rebuttal to that article. I wrote something similar on a message board myself.

Second, count me in for BBAW. It's a great idea!

Chris said...

Oh, count me in! Great comment on that article.

crittyjoy said...

I would love to help out with Book Blogger Appreciation Week...just let me know what I can do :o)

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