Site Update–And Why I Only Write Good Reviews

Just a quick, no nonsense post today–but an important one. I’ve made a long-awaited addition to the blog: look up, and you’ll see a link to a page where I’ve collected all the Indie Reviews I’ve written so far on Speaking to the Eyes. Since I decided to focus on Indie Reviews back in January, it’s proven a good direction for this blog–and this is the next logical step.

I’ll update it as I add new reviews to the site, and eventually I intend to fill out the page with links to Amazon or Kobo where you can buy the books I’ve reviewed. In the meantime, the list contains everything I’ve reviewed so far, listed in alphabetical order.

So…why are they all good reviews?

Fellow Indie and favourite on this site, J. M. Ney-Grimm, sent me a link to a blog quite a while back about writing only good reviews. She said it fit right in line with what I was doing, because I don’t review books I don’t like. I’ve unfortunately lost the link, but in a nutshell it said: don’t waste your time being negative.

Reviewing a book is a time consuming process. The scholar in me hopes I make it look easy–but really, it isn’t. Besides reading tons of books (something I’ve always been good at!), you have to read them with a critical eye. You need to take notes, pay attention to little details like plot holes, typos, the coherence of the World, and so on. At this point, reading ceases to be recreational–it’s a job.

Now, don’t get me wrong–I still love doing it, and I enjoy every word I read. There’s the old adage that if you love what you’re doing, you won’t work a day in your life, and that’s the case here. Some of my fondest memories of University were of holing myself up in the library for ten plus hours doing research for a paper. I get an honest thrill out of explicating literature, finding little connections and “ah-ha!” moments in a book, and learning why good fiction works.

But what it all boils down to is that reviewing a book takes a good amount of effort. And, quite frankly, it’s a lot less enjoyable when I’m reading a book that just isn’t that good. And I’ve come across many–I’d estimate that 1 in 5 Indie books that I’ve read are just tossed aside, unreviewed (though never unfinished). It’s not that they’re not worth reviewing–and in many cases, I can see great potential in what really amounts to a poorly edited or constructed work. I’d rather just enjoy the book for what it is (good or bad,) and not worry about working at it.

And there’s another–very important–aspect to this. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. One of the most valuable lessons I learned in University about critiquing literature is to avoid the “poison pen syndrome.” If you don’t like something, that’s fine–but don’t be a dick about it. There are hundreds of examples of poison pen reviews out there, and they serve absolutely no purpose other than raining on the author’s parade. If someone writes a bad book, they shouldn’t be bullied and mocked for it–they should be encouraged to try again.

I choose not to review poorly written books because it wouldn’t help anyone. It wouldn’t do the author any good to see that I didn’t like their work–if they even care what I think. It wouldn’t help my enthusiasm for writing this blog. And it certainly wouldn’t help push readers toward Indie work, or help sell books.

So there you have it. If you’ve ever read through my reviews and wondered why I tend to gush about how good a book is, that’s you’re answer. I enjoy each and every book I review on this site, and I’d recommend them all. But, to quote the master of reading advocacy, you don’t have to take my word for it…pick up an Indie book today and see for yourself!

 

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2 comments on “Site Update–And Why I Only Write Good Reviews

  1. Ryan Casey says:

    Good post, James. I think as authors, we see things from a similar perspective. It’s much easier for a reader to just slap a one-star on something for a laugh without realising the implications it could have, whereas us authors are a lot more inclined to only review the stuff that really interests us.

    Then again, there’s the other side of the old coin: when people argue that criticism should be balanced and writers shouldn’t be afraid to slate something if they truly believe it worth slating. To that, I say leave it to the critics whilst the rest of us spread the love.

    Also, thanks for reviewing my books! Pleased you’re enjoying them. 🙂

    • James J Parsons says:

      You make a good point–a responsible critique is unbiased and balanced. I do try to mention at least one “negative” for each review to show that nothing is perfect, but I do tend to weigh on the positive side.
      Inasmuch as that, I’d say my reviews are less about critique than “hey, look what I found!”

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