Sunday, August 23, 2009

Just a Little Bit of Everything

First of all, I am sad to say that the last Summer of Hitchcock discussion must be delayed. I watched The Trouble with Harry while working on BBAW, but I couldn't really concentrate. And because I felt like I would really enjoy it, I have decided to delay discussing it until I can watch it again. If you watched it, leave your link in comments!

Secondly, Faith'n'Fiction Saturday will be on hiatus until after BBAW. I have to realize my own limitations. It's really funny, because I thought BBAW would be easier this year with so many awesome wonderful helpers, but because it's three times the size, it's actually even more work. Part of it is my own fault...I love being part of the different processes, and need to learn to give over some of them so that I can be available to answer questions and see my vision of BBAW take shape. If that makes any sense whatsoever. I really don't know where I'd be this year though without the amazing help of people like Trish, Michelle, Sheri, and the rest of the awards committee. They have really given up a lot of time to see this come together in a short time....and I am more thankful than I can possibly say. I hope you know how much they love you and this community!

In other news, I read that post over at Shannon Hale's (like the only thing I've read all week!!!) that I'm sure many others have already blogged about but I haven't been able to really read blogs. I do have some thoughts on it! Try not to be so surprised. :) Anyway, it seems she's a bit turned off by the idea of reading for pleasure and is concerned that our society is all about gulping down pleasure and not allowing books to make us think. And then it got off a bit on a tangent about ratings, etc.

But I want to address the self-evaluation in reading and reviewing. Reviewing books on this blog has actually made me process what I read more. Do I start writing a review before I finish a book? Yes sometimes. For example, the book I'm reading right now I like so so much and I've been already thinking of how I can express that. I like being able to express it and talk about it. Does it take away from the reading experience? I don't know. I don't think so, and I don't always do it.

But beyond that...I think the best books are the ones that cause you to evaluate yourself, to confront yourself, when you aren't expecting it. Have you ever found yourself crying during a scene in a book and you don't know exactly why until you think about it? Or pulled into a story and then slammed with the truth? I have. When asked what my favorite book of the year so far is, I have unfailing said The Passion of Mary Margaret by Lisa Samson because it was a book that crawled under my skin and lived there. I thought about it when I wasn't reading it, not because I was consumed with the story but because of the ache and void in my own life it revealed. Sometimes when I read a book, I'll read a passage and the words are so beautifully written and so spot-on to what I've felt that I must set the book down, sometimes with tears in my eyes or chills on my arms. And it seems like such an innocent little phrase but it carries the weight of truth.

Perhaps it's become I'm so self-analytical, that I don't need to take extra care to self-evaluate while reading, I am constantly self-evaluating. If someone were to ask me if I liked a book, I would answer honestly and the answer would undoubtedly have more to do than with simple pleasure. I also think it's possible to like parts of a book or appreciate aspects of it without liking the whole thing. And I think that's easy enough to express when asked if you like something.

I'm starting not to make sense and I need sleep. I hope you all have an absolutely wonderful Monday if such a is possible.




Amy

16 comments:

Melody said...

Thank you, Amy, and the other volunteers for all the hard work in putting the BBAW together! I'm in awe of you all!! Keep up the good work!

I do write my review before finishing a book, and one reason being that it evokes some of my emotions and I want to jot it down quickly before I lost them! I love reading books that make me think, besides the great escapism they provide. This is a great post, Amy!

Sandy Nawrot said...

God love you Amy, seriously. I keep wondering when you get anything else done. Being part of BBAW for the first time, it was an eye-opener to see how much is reall involved! And the excitement throughout the book blogging community is palpable. And all because of you! (And all of your helpers of course.)

I will sometimes start a review before I finish a book, but only just get it started. And yes, I will evaluate plot and character development, writing styles, etc. but at the end of the day, if I have an emotional reaction, I will rate it higher. I don't know how I couldn't, as reading can almost be a spiritual experience. There are those out there that criticize us for this, but I'm not sure how to respond, except to say "so sue me!". What makes a book special is if it does cause you to re-evalute yourself and your life. It is good for the soul!

Rhiannon Hart said...

I wasn't aware of Shannon Hale's post until now and the comments there are rather numerous, so I thought I'd put my answer here! I don't have a rating system myself as I started reading reviews first of all in print, and while it's common to star film reviews, it seems less common to star book reviews, in newspapers especially. I also find putting a number on a feeling that I get from book a tricky thing to do. I think "Do I like it?" is a very important question, however. And I do sometimes start drafting a review before I've finished the book, often in my head but occasionally on screen. I love the process of analysing a book and it's something I did before I started reviewing.

ANovelMenagerie said...

Amy, I don't know how you have time to visit the restroom or sleep during BBAW, let along blog. You are absolutely AMAZING and I'm in awe of your patience and diligence.

I'm here to help any time you need it for as long as you need it!

BBAW ROCKS!

Sheri

bermudaonion said...

I do think it's important to read for pleasure. Sometimes I think we over-analyze a book (and life, for that matter) too much.

Elizabeth said...

Well, I ONLY read for pleasure. Reading to improve myself puts me to sleep, although I do read to learn things, I'll skip around the book, using the index, not pouring through the whole book.
Reviewing books has made me think more while I am reading, whether the book is "deep" or "fluffy". I write down page #s while I am reading, and when done, I go back to those pages to see why I wrote them down. If I can't remember, it obviously wasn't as great a quote or concept as I had thought.

Pam said...

so many good points. It's funny, I think that I was actually talking to YOU on twitter, one day, about my need for a "deep" book. I mentioned that the last one I had read didn't resonate and you said "No, see I thought THAT was heavy". So I THINK that even when we think we're being objective, we're still self evaluating, right? It's impossible to be objective when it comes to talking about books or movies or, you know, hair dressers. Not that Shannon missed the mark asking where all of the self-eval has gone, of course...it is, after all only her subjective opinion, right? :O)

Scobberlotcher said...

I second what BermudaOnion said. Sometimes we read lighter fare, sometimes heavier. There's something for everyone at the literary buffet - stories to entertain or stories to provoke. I personally like dipping into both categories.

Great job with BBAW!

Jeanne said...

My impression of Shannon's piece is that she was questioning why bloggers would rate a book without going into much detail about why it got that rating. I don't think she's saying that we shouldn't read for pleasure, but that there can also be pleasure in digging a little deeper to say why we like a book.

Lisa said...

I just wanted to pop in here to say how much I love your blog. BEAUTIFUL!

bookmagic said...

First of all, thanks for all you are doing with BBAW! You're amazing. I know how you feel about a book getting under your skin. I love that! And it comes from the most unexpected books sometimes.

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

Are you floored by how much BBAW has grown in only one year? Maybe BBAW stands for Blogging Brings Amazement Week ...

re: Shannon Hale's article and the many responses: Hmmm, what's wrong with reading for pleasure? I don't think we need to always overtly analyze what we read. Often the themes (or even just a scene) in a book sits inside us and we're not even aware of it. I feel "pleasure" reading can also change us and cause us to view our world differently.

heidenkind said...

I think Shannon Hale might be overthinking things a little. She does raise some interesting points, but I think the self-reflexive kind of review she's looking for is only appropriate with certain books--books that not everyone likes to read.

Natasha @ Maw Books said...

Seriously, I don't even know how you managed to put up this post. And I have to say that I agree with Jeanne's comment above. That's what I would have said too.

Toni said...

I will have to check it out. But I am inclined to agree that being part of blog world has me pause while reading more than ever to think what I might share... or even sometimes.. I wonder what so and so thought.. I am going to check out her / his review.

Stay strong and chug chug chug..

Meghan said...

I hadn't seen Shannon Hale's post - I might have been away - but I found it somewhat interesting. I think she's saying it's okay to read a book for pleasure, but also to think about why we like it. This is something I strive for in my own reviews, to write about how and why a book affected me personally. There is nothing wrong with star ratings but that's not going to help me figure out whether or not I want to read a book.

As far as what you've said, I agree 100% that the absolute best books get under our skin and live in our heads for a long time if not forever. The best books change the way we think about ourselves, about the world, about life.

And, most importantly, thank you so much for all you do for BBAW and the book blogosphere in general. You are so awesome, Amy, and we can't possibly appreciate you as much as you deserve!

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