First, the good and the bad: I was very excited this weekend when I saw I got a comment from the author (Linda Monk, author of the nonfiction constitution book I just finished). It was very exciting, until I accidentally deleted it. Ooops. Because it had gone to spam initially I have no record I ever received it. It’s gone.
Have you ever received a comment from an author? I got a comment from the author on another nonfiction book I reviewed last year. Have you ever accidentally deleted a comment? I think this was my first.
And then for some thoughts on the ugly: I occasionally dislike a book I review, but I wrote a couple of posts last year that were pretty strong in my antagonism. I’ll call these my “mean posts.” Because of the wonderful aspect of blogging called comments, two certain “mean posts” I’ve written keep appearing in my life. One “mean post” even required me to close the comments because the comments became so vicious against me and my blog. Have you written “mean” posts? Have you ever had to close comments?
I’ve been noticing lately that since I began blogging last May, my reviewing tone has changed to be less “mean.”
This week, I again got a comment on one of the “mean posts.” It wasn’t really a mean comment (as some were), and it had valid points. But this got me to thinking: if I’d read that particular book and written a review this summer, I think I’d have said different things. I still don’t think I would have enjoyed the book, but I wouldn’t have been quite so mean in my review of it. My thoughts and criticism have mellowed a bit.
Now I want to delete or rewrite my “mean” posts to indicate my changing opinions; then I wouldn’t have to deal with “mean” comments any more. But maybe that’s a cheating, easy way out. Would you ever go back and edit old posts?
Maybe I’m making better reading choices, so I don’t read as many books I strongly dislike. But I don’t think that’s it. I’m just realizing that having a public blog means having public emotions and reactions toward books, and I don’t want to start an argument. My blog is not a place to air my opinions so much as a place to discuss my thoughts and opinions, allowing room for others to do so as well. If I start a “mean” discussion, I should expect “mean” comments in return. And I really don’t want that.
The result of a year of public blogging is that my review posts have become more kind; even disliking a book doesn’t signify a scathing review. I think that’s good in the big picture. Readers should give a book the benefit of the doubt, because every reader will approach it differently.
Since you’ve began blogging, have you found your reviewing style changing?
Are you more honest (i.e., possibly “mean”) or more kind (i.e., willing to give a book the benefit of the doubt) in your reviews?
I read two very short things this week, and I finished two longer items that I’d begun in June. I did enjoy the modern fiction novel I read, mostly, so I’ll keep giving modern fiction the benefit of the doubt this month.
Finished or Abandoned Since Last Wednesday
- The Words We Live By: Your Annotated Guide to the Constitution by Linda R. Monk (263 pages; nonfiction) FINISHED! Began in June. (reviewed here)
- The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck (audiobook, 9 discs, about 10.5 hours total; fiction) FINISHED! Began in June.
- The Forsyte Saga, Series 1 and Series 2 (4 episodes watched of 10, on 5 DVDs; 2002 fiction movie). ABANDONED. The movie wasn’t bad by itself; I was bored and didn’t want to watch any more. I guess 900 pages of Forsytes was enough for me.
- Wit by Margaret Edson (85 pages; drama) FINISHED! A reread for the Summer Lovin’ Challenge. (reviewed here)
- The Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean (230 pages; fiction). FINISHED!
I’d like to finish The Arabian Nights this week. The companion has become more a commentary on the stories, so I want to finish the stories themselves before I read too much more of the companion. It is not actually helping me in my reading of the stories, but I’m still finding it interesting.
I will probably get to the Chicago architecture books this week as well; I am looking forward to them, I just haven’t had time even to skim through them. Since my book club is discussing the Lincoln biography this coming week, I’ll also reread that, or at least skim it.
I also will probably get most of the memoir read and maybe start one of the novels. I have to admit that I’m horribly afraid I’ll hate the Georgette Heyer book because I have never read modern “romance.” Tell me: is it like Jane Austen at all, like the back cover claims? Can anyone recommend a light modern “romance” for a person hesitant to read modern literature as I am?
- Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne (115 read of 160 pages; children’s fiction) I’m making steady progress with my son.
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling (290 read of 750 pages; children’s fiction) no progress
Library Loot, Old
- The Arabian Nights: A Companion by Robert Irwin (139 read of 292 pages; nonfiction).
- The Arabian Nights translated by Husain Haddawy (345 read of 425 pages; fiction).
- Lost Chicago by David Lowe (20 read of 270 pages; nonfiction/coffee table book). no progress
- The Chicago World’s Fair of 1893: A Photographic Record by Stanley Appelbaum (108 pages; nonfiction) not begun
- Chicago’s Classical Architecture: The Legacy of the White City (Images of America series) by David Stone (128 pages; nonfiction) not begun
- Lincoln: A Photobiography by Russell Freedman (150 pages; children’s nonfiction).
- The John Cheever Audio Collection (audiobook, on 1 of 6 discs, about 6 ½ hours; fiction/short stories). My in-the-house audiobook
- Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond (audiobook, on 1 of 13 discs, about 16 ½ hours; nonfiction). My in-the-car audiobook
Library Loot, New
- A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg (70 read of 310 pages; nonfiction/memoir). The first of my “foodie” books; so far this memoir is delightful!
- The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King (350 pages; fiction). My “mystery” selection for my library summer reading program. Not yet begun.
- Friday’s Child by Georgette Heyer (425 pages; fiction). My “romance” selection for my library summer reading program. Not yet begun.
I haven’t been commenting as much as I’d like, but I have found some interesting posts. I’m going to try to track some of the posts that catch my eye and the books that I’ve added to my TBR for your reference too. This week’s is rather long because it includes some TBR additions from the past few weeks. I think I’ll do this every week instead.
- Thoughts on what is literature via (Mis)Readings
- Do you read guidebooks when you travel? via Lous_Pages
- Newsweek’s 100 Books, mentioned on a few sites. How many of them have you read? I’ve read 27 out of 100.
- Another round of Bingo for the Blog Improvement Project
- Why BiblioAddict blogs (Is it still fun?)
- Teresa’s Shelf Love Blogiversary Giveaway
- America’s Women: Four Hundred Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines by Gail Collins. This book was mentioned by Eva at A Striped Armchair via a comment on one of my posts.
- Twenty Years at Hull-House by Jane Addams. The subject of Jane Addams was mentioned by Eva at A Striped Armchair via a comment on one of my posts. Since I’m from Chicago, I should know something about this lady.
- Great Catherine: The Life of Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia by Carolly Erickson. Helen from Hawaii mentioned Catherine the Great in a comment to me. This particular book was recommended by LibraryThing.
- The Muslim Discovery of Europe by Bernard Lewis. I discovered this book via notes to The Clash of Civilization and the Remaking of World Order by Samuel P. Huntington. It sounds like a fascinating look at Muslim history and cultural as compared to European culture.
- The Pillow Book by Sei Shonagon. I read excerpts from this book for a graduate course on essays, but Jenny’s review at Shelf Love got me wanting to read the whole thing. It sounds delightful, in a really old classic sort of way.
- Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder. Eva at A Striped Armchair mentioned a different book by this author, but I still haven’t gotten to Sophie’s World. Someone mentioned Sophie’s World to me first a few months ago.
- A Golden Age by Tahmima Anam. Eva at A Striped Armchair. This sounds really good.
- Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Eva at A Striped Armchair, plus a lot of other people. I can’t believe I still haven’t read anything by this author!
- Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson. 3000 Books writes “nothing in Robinson’s world is mundane: she shows us that significant things don’t need to be violent to be absolute.” That sounds beautiful to me.
- Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier . Stephanie shared thoughts on this. I’ve already read it, but her thoughts just make me want to reread it!
- A Separate Peace by John Knowles. Nymeth’s review reminded me that I never read this in high school, as many people did.
- The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins. Matt’s thoughts remind me that I really want to experience Collin’s classic mysteries. Soon!