Welcome back to my discussion feature, Freadom Speaks!
I’ve been thinking about this particular topic a lot for the past few weeks. Some time ago on Twitter, an author shared their thoughts on a ARC they were reading and how they felt the story was racist. This lead to a lot of conversation, unfortunately to a lot of arguing but the part that really surprised me was the response from people who urged others to read the book before judging it. Which made me think about my job as a blogger and a reviewer and how that ends up affecting the people who read my blog.
If you’d like to know more about this particular incident, look up the hashtag #TheContinent on Twitter.
SO let’s get started!
I started blogging because I wanted to talk about books with other people who love books just as much as I do. In real life, I don’t know anyone who loves reading like I do or who spends as much time reading as I do. So when I found the book community online, it was amazing for me! And I took the initiative to become a bigger part of it, first with my Booktube channel and then with this blog. And what I wanted to do most was share my book reviews because honestly, what better way is there to talk about books than with book reviews?
I think I started to take reviewing more seriously when I started getting Advance Reader Copies more consistently. I feel like as a reviewer my job is to be completely honest and to help others decide whether or not they want to read a book. With all books I review, but specially with ARCs because that’s kind of the point of them. Publishers send reviewers early copies of books to hopefully generate hype and interest for that release so I consider it my job in a way to be honest about my thoughts on the books I review to help better inform other readers who might stumble upon my reviews.
At the same time, I’m the kind of person who tries to judge things for myself. While I value other people’s opinions, my own is the most important to me and when it comes to books, I tend to stick with that. If a book is getting mixed reviews, I like to read it for myself to see what I think about it, but only if I’m really interested in it. How do I figure that part out? By looking at reviews! When I find a book I might want to read, I check out the reviews on Goodreads as well as it’s overall rating. If it has mixed or overall negative reviews and I’m not that interested in it, I have no problem passing on it. However, if it has those same kind of reviews but I’m really interested in the plot, I’ll read it and see what I think for myself. Same thing if it happens visa versa. It’s easy to get caught up over hyped books and want to read them but if the book doesn’t sound interesting or like something I would like, I’ll pass on it. So I tend up deciding for myself which books I want to read, regardless of what people might be saying about it.
However, my job as a blogger and reviewer is to help others with their reading choices, as other bloggers and reviewers do for me. I can see suggesting that someone reads a book before judging it if the complaints are about bad writing, annoying characters, a weak plot or anything having to do with the execution of the book or the general preference of a reader. But when the complaints have to do with racism, sexism, misogyny, romanticizing abusive relationships, all the things that are harmful to people, that make them feel like less of themselves or that perpetuate these horrible things in the media, I think it’s best to trust the reviewers and just pass on the book. That’s their job. That’s what they are meant to do. People enjoy different things in books so what you think is problematic might not be what someone else thinks it is. And yet you are both right. If something insults you, your culture, your way of life, if it demeans it and makes fun of it, or perpetuates stereotypes about it, you are allowed to complain and point it out. And this goes beyond just not liking a certain trope or being bothered by the way the romance was carried out. Those are also okay complaints to have but they affect people differently. What doesn’t affect people differently are stereotypes, racism, or phobias against human kind. They are hurtful and wrong and should not continue to be part of books or literature in the era we live in today.
Honestly, all I wanted to say is that reviewer have a very tough job even if you don’t realize it. We’re asked to set the tone of what potentially be someone’s life work and no one who does this “professionally” takes that lightly. So when an author reading an ARC or a reviewer seeing themselves portrayed wrongly in a book they’re reading complain, listen. Just listen. We all have the right to form our own opinions about things, including books, but we also have the advantage of getting recommendations from people who get to experience these things to encourage or discourage our attention to it. It’s a part of society as a whole, from restaurants to movies to books and I think it’s important to pay attention to those people, because they love what they do and they don’t take it for granted. Well, at least I don’t. I feel very fortunate to be able to review books and to inspire other readers to read books I enjoy or to turn them away from something that might be painful for them to read. So basically, this discussion was all about me and my thoughts, like always haha.
So that’s it for this post! I’m not good at discussion guys but I’m trying. I really hope this made sense. I would love to know how reviews affect what books you read and how you decide which books really deserve your precious time. Again, I hope I made sense and I’d love to know what thoughts you have about my thoughts. Thanks so much for reading and I’ll see you on my next post!