Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Discussion Point – What Do you Bring to Your Reading

 

 

 

This is another one of those Wednesday's where a topic just jump off the net at me – not planned..

Over the past few days due to my run in with my ladies, my reintroduction to Willa Okati’s work, reading all kinds of blogs and social network feeds and I am getting increasingly annoyed at what we as readers bring to our reading.

As a child growing up I was never allowed the luxury of not finishing a book, even after all these years – I might leave a books for a period of time but I always finish every book I read. What I was  encouraged to do was find my own niche, find what worked for me, be able to discuss what didn’t work for me – fairly, and with suitable info to back it up.

More and more I am reading where readers don’t read a particular genre, author or  storyline – without being able to explain themselves. Please don't get me wrong, as it would be hypocritical of me to say that this applies to everyone, because it doesn’t, most people have a tolerance level including  myself – but I would like to think that the majority of readers, especially book bloggers can and would quantify why they don’t like a particular genre, feels frustrated by an authors style or is just plain freaked out by certain  storylines.

Followers of my blog know I read just about anything, I however have gone gun shy on historicals – for the fact that it was my first sort of foray into the romance world – I need a change. I also generally find something wrong in these books and that bump me right out of the story – and lastly, they do tend to be too wordy, too long winded and almost always the heaviest sets of book in the romance genre… 

But -  I am not oppose to refreshing myself every few years…

I don't like Fiction books about child abuse, use of animals in questionable circumstances, the heavier end of BDSM and Horror. Otherwise I am good with anything.

Even the too stupid to live and the cute story line does it for me in the right authors hand…

Whilst I wont read the above mentioned books in fiction as a set rule, I will read a “little” non-fiction – now and then about them.

What really gets my goat is a combination of things - principle, personal dislike and sheer gall of bloggers and readers around the net.

After coming across a thread on a site the other day a reader wanted to know if a particular book has some things that was particularly offensive to the reader in it.

So far so good – that is probably something I would do as well. What totally infuriate me was the fact that after not actually finishing a particular book (that had more positive review than negative around the net) the same reader went on and on about the content, of why it didn’t work, the area that was objectionable to them and other pearls of wisdom and I thought – YOU DID NOT FINISH THE BLOODY BOOK.

Was I blowing this out of proportion, because I see it more and more on the net  - discussion happening on DNF or books that a reader had read without any knowledge of the genre or even the sub-genre they are reading or just bringing a whole lot of prejudices to the book or about the authors work.

As romance readers we all know the books in our genre are more than just smut and require some suspension of reality – but do you give yourself a fair shot to actually like/love/converse on the books you read. I know it sound harsh or idealistic but bringing personal issues to reading, without some underscoring knowledge or personal preference is liveable as it’s all a matter of what rocks your boat.. 

But to go as far  as to do a full scale rant and snark about a book that was not even finished is just too much..

Another concern I have is in regard to the new and upcoming genre eg. Steampunk.. I made a comment the other day to a friend..

I am hoping the reading public give them all the chance to get it right - I can't imagine the next year will produce anything stunning - as they are all feeling their way...

© E.H>

and I stand by that, but I am looking forward to the first set of discussion about the next set of Steampunk books available, as the reviews I see over the net now – most bloggers talk about them from the base line of what we know of sci-fi books…

Am I the only one that have a higher regard for a reader who actually makes the effort to see the full picture when reading a book and is open-minded about work that they might not even care about.

 

P.S. – I know this is a bit of a rant Discussion question today – but I am at the roll eyes moment ….

I expect so much more from book bloggers and I am constantly being let down by some of the attitude and snark that I see around…

 

20 Speak To Me:

Kris on 27 January 2010 at 22:45 said...

It's a hard one, isn't it.

The bottom line for me is that if you have a popular review blog you have a certain responsibility to admit to the prejudices or ideologies that your bring to your reading and reviewing. Anyone who thinks that they don't do this or should not because they are completely objective is a total pretentious git and should just fuck off already.

I aim to always admit to my own likes and dislikes and I hope that I achieve this aim.

For eg, I don't read historical because that is the field in which I work and I despise the lack of research that goes into the genre, romance or not. (And, yes, I'm speaking generally.) Most people who've known me for some time are aware of that and if you ask me to read or a review an historical I'm always up front about saying that I'm reading from the POV of not liking it from the outset.

I also hate infidelity as a theme for personal reasons and this will completely turn me off a story. I'm very open about this attitude, however, so that it's clear that although the particular work wasn't for me because of this reason, but it might appeal to others regardless.

As to steampunk, I too hope that readers will give the genre a fair go. It does already have a following so I think, to a certain point, the genre might have to rely on those people to lead the way.

Jeff on 28 January 2010 at 00:46 said...

I'm generally not one to weigh in on blogs that I read, mainly because I'm not so sure people would really be that interested in what I have to say. I have my own blog, and if they want to hear my opinion they will go there to get it. But this particular blog of yours today really caught my attention, and for what it's worth, I decided to throw in my two-cents' worth.


As a reviewer of books, I feel that I have a responsibility to state both my subjective opinion as well as an objective overview of the piece I'm reviewing. For example, I may not personally relate to a plot device or character type, but I can at least recognize the purpose of it and explain why it appears that the author chose to go this particular route with his/her writing.

When reviewers fail to make the distinction between their subjective preferences and the overall appraisal of the book's potential appeal, the review becomes little more just a matter of opinion. I've even heard both authors and reviewers admit to this, stating pointedly that all a review is, is one person's opinion.

I think a reviewer has a responsibility to give more than just their subjecive opinion. And when they do offer up opinions, they should be conscientious enough to clarify that it is a personal bias.

As for posting a review of an unfinished book, this is perhaps the single-most offensive thing a reviewer can do. So often I have seen reviews where it is stated, "I could not even force myself to finish the book..." Well if that is indeed the case, don't bother to review it at all. How can you give a fair and honest review of something you have not even read?

And finally I would add that it seems the reviewers who have a little bit of education and think they know it all, are the harshest of critics. Any reviewer who feels the need to qualify their creditials (e.g. "as a former high school English teacher...blah,blah,blah), to me they seem like pompous windbags. I tend to want to respond, "If you know so much about writing properly, why don't you write your own book?"

Bottom line is that whether you like a book or not, remember the effort that went into it. Authors spend hours upon hours pouring themselves into a project. It is really a very big deal to complete a book. Even if you don't like it, show a little respect for the effort. And above all... BE NICE!

Chris on 28 January 2010 at 02:36 said...

It is a good question, EH. Now you have me wondering if I'm on your list of teeth gnashing sites! :)

Maybe I need to add more detail to my Administrivia section, beyond the "I write reviewettes. If I write more than four sentences, most of my readers will pass out in shock" (or something like that).

I don't enjoy historicals because of the detail, plus all my brain starts to insert all sorts of spurious commentary (Oh, yeah, that would be fun, not, since he probably last bathed seven months ago, due to the time in which the story is set...)

Stories about infidelity make me grumpy, so I don't read them. I know it's a real issue, but I don't want to read about it. I don't enjoy menage because it feels like infidelity to me, plus I get distracted by trying to figure out where everyone's everything is. O_o

And twincest or other incest squicks me out.

I don't enjoy reading books with strong religious themes because I don't understand religion. (This would be after years of classes, so it's not just me being obstinate!)

Most of the books that I rate very low or DNF? Usually have severe structural or other problems - the most recent one was due to an extremely bad case of unclear pronoun references (BAD in m/m).

Smokinhotbooks on 28 January 2010 at 04:38 said...

In my long reading history I've yet to actually rate a book DNF. Good thing right?

I respect bloggers that "tactfully" give great criticism. Putting remarks like "I don't know how this author got published" etc etc I don’t really find constructive. Just the other day I was disappointed in a book but I hopefully try and express my POV in a respectful humorous way.
I am so with you on the historical romance genre. I think I burned myself out years ago while I was in high school, before we had PNR, erotic romance, & UF there was only historical, romantic suspense and contemporary romance to choose from. Thank god those days are behind us. Like any diet I find that I need to switch up my food/books so I don’t get burnt out. I was lucky and got to review 2 great historical/gothic romance {highly recommend BTW} I had forgotten how enjoyable a well developed romance book was. Would I go out and buy the complete set of Joanna Lindesy? No. But ever once in awhile it’s fun to switch up genres. I leave the non fiction for my work books O_o

Michele_LM on 28 January 2010 at 04:47 said...

E.H.---

Wonderful Blog!!

If there's one thing about a book reviewer that just makes me want to throw a tantrum like a two year old, it's them either not understanding the plot to begin with OR them NOT liking the Genre at the start. They then do as you said: run to the web and start cutting down the author and the story. Yet, they have no real clue...And do they stop to think how it will affect that author? I mean, it's well known that to be a writer with work available to be read, you're going to have to deal with less than favorable ratings some of the time, so we all need to be thick skinned. However...for someone who is clueless anyway and they run to their blog and state: "Oh I couldn't bring myself to even finish it..." Do they even have a clue what they've done to that author??

At least finish the book, think about that story a couple days and then run off to your blog and do what you do. Just give it a chance.

Since publishing my own book I've started paying attention to reviews, prior to this, I never did. I looked at the cover, back and flipped through a few pages and decided then if I wanted to read it. I never even cared what the New York critics had to say. I mean, I may not like what that certain reviewer likes and vice versa. No two people are alike. We won't all agree on why we liked or didn't like about a certain book, there are many different reasons. I guess what I'm getting at is this: Stick to what you enjoy reading, but don't shun something different just cause. If one can't stand the thought of reading a certain Genre (ex: m/m fiction) then don't read it and do a review. If one does not care for a Stephen King story, then don't read it. It's okay to test the waters but don't hurt the author because you can't stand the thought of two men kissing.

For me, I'd stay as far away from Sci-Fi as I could get because I don't care for it. If I tried to read a book in the Genre for the sake of doing a review on it, I can tell you that it would not be a good review. However, if I were to do a review on a book in the m/m Genre, it'd be a better review. Because I enjoy reading it. Same with Thrillers and Suspense. I love those so of course I'd love to do reviews for them.



Short of it: Stick to what you like and offer constructive advice if it calls for it.

Blodeuedd on 28 January 2010 at 07:31 said...

Everyone have commented so much, mine will be way shorter now. Great post btw.

I am sure the Lovely Bones is a lovely book, but after that rape scene, I just could not read more. So that is one of the things I have trouble reading. So that book I leave to those that are stronger than I am.

I do have a healthy respect for different genres, perhaps since I love to read them all. Well most, too heavy BDSM in books can throw me off too, or when I read this book with too much dirty talk. But then I just said that that was my opinion and that the book otherwise was amazing, which it was. It made me wanna read more of her, cos I can see past that which I had trouble with.

But I do think I would have a hard time with a book with too heavy religious tones, where they mention God in every page, and glory and all that. With that, yes then I would be uncomfortable and perhaps let someone else review.

Jenre on 28 January 2010 at 07:46 said...

I'm in two minds here and I'm going to stick my neck out a little (don't chop off my head!). You see, I do see some value in a DNF review. I've never written one myself, but if the reviewer is up front and says something along the lines of - I couldn't finish this book and here's why - then I can respect that reviewer for giving the book a go and then being honest about why it just wasn't working for them, especially if it's for a reason such as those given above - it turned out to contain infidelity, or rape for example. Sometimes the author's style just doesn't gel with a reader and I think it's OK to say that in a DNF review. However, this does have to be done with a certain amount of tactfulness and with clear reasoning - trashing a book tells a reader nothing and only seeks to inflate the ego of the reviewer. Telling a reading that the book was crap and you hated it and you can't understand how the writer got published in the first place tells us absolutely nothing about the book and a reviewer's reasons for not finishing it. I hate those types of reviews too.

The older I get the more likely I am to DNF a book. My TBR pile is huge so why should I waste my time reading a book that I'm not actually enjoying? Having said that, I always finish a book that I have earmarked for review, even if I have to force myself to finish it.

Very interesting topic, EH. The comments have also been thoughtful.

Erotic Horizon on 28 January 2010 at 13:19 said...

@Kris...

if you have a popular review blog you have a certain responsibility to admit to the prejudices or ideologies that your bring to your reading and reviewing.


I totally agree with you on this, however I am seeing more and more subjective reviews creeping in without any regard to the fact that people who might like the sort of book or publication will be reading the review..

I knew from the first day I visited your blog what you liked and what you didn't - however I have never felt like you opposed a book on these factors and thats key for me..

to a certain point, the genre might have to rely on those people to lead the way.

I so hope so hon...

E.H>

Erotic Horizon on 28 January 2010 at 15:46 said...

@Jeff..

Thank you for delurking and letting us hear you roar...

You have definately hit all the hot spots for me ..

When reviewers fail to make the distinction between their subjective preferences and the overall appraisal of the book's potential appeal, the review becomes little more just a matter of opinion

And now there are more opinon blogs more than actually book reviews blogs - all under the guise of telling it like it is.

I really wish DNF does not get a foothold into the realms of book discussion - but as it stands not everyone will clearly say, you have not finished the book - shut it...

As for your last point - I could not agree more - there are certainly more and more bloggers qualifying why they are suited to take the opinion that they do - but still can't do a better job themself.... pompous windbag, sounds about right.

BE NICE, nuff said ..

Thank you for chipping in...

E.H>

Erotic Horizon on 28 January 2010 at 15:55 said...

@Chris...

I agree if you do more than a reviewette, I will go into shock... You do your thing for you and I get that...

I can get you on the mind stray with the historicals and your likes and dislikes are also very clear. However you are a big supporter of every genre I read, irrespective of the fact that it's not for you...

Most of the books that I rate very low or DNF? Usually have severe structural or other problems - the most recent one was due to an extremely bad case of unclear pronoun references (BAD in m/m).


I had to go and look at your shelf - I know you do have DNF and one thing I have always respected you for is that you say this cleanly clearly and you go no further with the discussion...

Thank you....

E.H>

Erotic Horizon on 28 January 2010 at 16:10 said...

@K.C.

I am glad you can't recall having a DNF...

I know alot of people will have the same views that you have expressed, but it is the handful that makes us grind our teeth and wonder why do they do it that makes discussion like this pop up...

I am also one of the happy bunnies that is super glad UF and PNR came along...What a rush...

Please let me know the name of those gothic romance - you know how much I loved Heart's Blood....

I hope you find a non-fic that will work for you.. there is always something there for everyone..

E.H>

Chris on 28 January 2010 at 16:17 said...

Aw, thank you, EH. :)

Erotic Horizon on 28 January 2010 at 16:20 said...

@Blodeuedd..

I am sure the Lovely Bones is a lovely book, but after that rape scene, I just could not read more. So that is one of the things I have trouble reading. So that book I leave to those that are stronger than I am.

This falls right under the badge "Tolerance level".. I did remember reading the blurb and I opted not to read it for the fact that I could not get a clear description of how graphic the detail of the rape were - I hate that in books. So I was speared that pleasure....


But I can understand you not wanting to go any further.. This happened to me years earlier with Catherine Coulters work - she is well know for rape scenes as well and written into the plot as an act of love.... so I stay clear of books like that...


I do have a healthy respect for different genres, perhaps since I love to read them all.

I do love how you phrased that and I wished more people would think like that...

You don't have to read everything, no one does - but respect the fact that there are readers out there that will/do...

E.H>

Erotic Horizon on 28 January 2010 at 16:41 said...

@Michele...

I know you said to me once that it was a nerve racking business waiting on the reviews to come in - and I am wondering how many bloggers/reviewers see you guys as a face,flesh and blood who will get hurt by the snark...


At least finish the book, think about that story a couple days and then run off to your blog and do what you do. Just give it a chance.

I am glad you mentioned this - as I am seeing more reactionary reviews as well - Now that I am on a month free from reviewing...
It is worth it to step back from that elated rush that you get when you finish a book and see the trees from the woods so to speak...

good point...

Liking what you are talking about is a definately plus for me - romance suspence, contemp, m/m are my fav - and it comes across in my reviews....

And even if I dont like a genre an author can impress me on so many levels and this will come out in my reviews as well... Heart's Blood was one such book for me and of Course Rivers of Tears - I was on tender hook because of the eomotional level of it.. but I read it and stepped back back from it and realised the positive of the book...


Short of it: Stick to what you like and offer constructive advice if it calls for it.


Well said...

E.H>

Erotic Horizon on 28 January 2010 at 17:13 said...

@Jenre...

I would never think of chopping your head off - who would write those reviews I need to read...

You have clearly laid out your argument and I can relate - even if I am not a fan of the DNF reviews..

Because...

Not alot of people are mature enough, cognitive enough or even at that level where they can put together a review with clear, concise subjective issues , while still highlighing where the book might workd for people who will like that type of genre/plot/character...

Telling a reading that the book was crap and you hated it and you can't understand how the writer got published in the first place tells us absolutely nothing about the book and a reviewer's reasons for not finishing it. I hate those types of reviews too.


Me to my dear..


The older I get the more likely I am to DNF a book.


I am just the opposite, but then again I can see your logic with - life is just too short to subject ourself to some of the less than enjoyable books out there...

I did read your review of Torment and I was quite chuffed at the fact that you finished it - and in the end made me see the positive and the bits that did not work for you...

Thanks

E.H>

Jude Mason on 29 January 2010 at 02:11 said...

Hi E.H.,

Getting my running shoes tied before I start. LOL

A very interesting blog post. Deep breath.

I've had my share of really good and really bad reviews and most of the time I can truly see where the reviewer is coming from. A bad review can be more instructive than a good one, painful as they are.

The reviews that I've had that anger me are:

1. reviews that come from someone who right up front says they don't like the genre and therefore will give a bad review. They say that, then give a review that means nothing.

2. a review where the reviewer says, I didn't finish the book but this is what I thought of the bit I did read, then they proceed to tear the book to bits. WTF?

3. a review that says horrible things about stuff that wasn't in the book, and possibly gets the characters names wrong. Did these people actually read my book?

4. a review that says, I wish the story had been longer. There are actually some stories that are sent in at a certain word count because that's what the publisher requested. Yes, it's sometimes difficult to tell the entire story in 10,000 words, but if the publisher won't look at anything over 10,000 words, what choice do I have?

I totally understand that not every genre is for everyone. It'd be a very boring world if we were all that much alike. If you don't like science fiction, and know you won't give an honest review for a science fiction book, why in hell would you accept the book for review? Say you don't review the genres you don't want to review. If someone sends you books in that genre, send em back.

Uh, do I need to run now?

E.H., I adore your site here. You've reviewed several of my books and I always know you'll be honest when you do them. You've pointed out some of my shortcomings, for which I truly thank you, and you've said some really lovely things about my work. Honest reviews like yours are a real treasure to receive.

A really interesting topic. Thank you!

Hugs

Donna [F.D. Ramblings] on 29 January 2010 at 03:21 said...

Wow what a terrific discussion post. It looks like most of what needs to be said was said.

But I'll say I'm in totally agreement with you EH. I don't like reading rants like that on books that weren't finished or even all out rants on books that were finished. I've read books that I wasn't particularly caring for but the ending pulled it out and I found it was actually a very good read. When I can't finish a book, I put it up and chalk up to my mood and usually give another try at a later date.

I'm always honest about what I will read. The book has to have a paranormal aspect in it or my attention wanders. I've been this way in my reading for as long as I can remember.

Donna [F.D. Ramblings] on 29 January 2010 at 03:32 said...

Oh, forgot to mention I downloaded the Steamed desktop wallpaper. It's so pretty!! Thank you for the tip. :)

Erotic Horizon on 29 January 2010 at 12:25 said...

@Jude..

There is not much I can say after that...

As an author you can tell it to us from the horses mouth so to speak... As much as it pisses us off as readers...

You are ones who have to sleep with the fact that it is your body of work that is being snarked and trashed...

I like your style in accepting praise as well as critisim... and
you have clearly given this alot of thought about what you would probably choose to make an issue of and what to disregard as utter tripe...

Thank you for sharing...

E.H>

Erotic Horizon on 29 January 2010 at 12:32 said...

@Donna..

I agree - these guys have given me a lot to think about....

Jenre's point really stuck and Jeff roar really made me look....

I think for me - it's annoying how some reviewers sneak it into their reviews... or just at the end of a review, they toss rubbish like that in.

It profits no one to hype on something that didn't please you - just be honest, clear and tactful about it...

But at least finish the thing if you intend to talk about it...


P.S. - I am so glad you like the wallpapers - I have have one as well, love it..

E.H>