Wednesday, August 26, 2009

So, Shannon Says And Then I Say

More on my pretend conversation with Shannon Hale! When last we met, I was responding to Shannon's awesome post about reviewing books.

First, I totally forgot to really explain why I don't do ratings. Because there is no real standard. No, seriously; professional journals (and more on that in a second) have firm criteria in place for how stars are awarded. I have rarely seen such stringent criteria in blogs (you disagree? put down the link, thanks, I'll look). In other words, in a nutshell, I see the professional journals being more objective about their stars and blogs being more subjective about their reviewing.

And there's nothing wrong with that. But it's why I, personally, don't pay much attention to such ratings. Except, of course, wanting to know what books gets the lowest rating, because that tells me more about the blogger. I thought about doing ratings; but in the end, figured that, if, say, we were doing 1 to 5, 5 being "the best" that just getting on my blog in 99 out of 100 times meant that the book was at least a 3, or "liked it." Cause, remember, 1 or 2 (hated it/ didn't like it) would be "not finished it." Too many books, too little time. As for the 5s (OMG I LOVE IT), that is on my favorites list. Because, really, that is ultimately what the ratings show -- personal likes and dislikes. So, ultimately, not something I look at (except to see what people hate) and not something I provide.

Anyhow, so now Shannon asks me (and you, too, I guess) in commenting on comments, reviewing reviews:But as a reader I know I DESPISE spoilers when I haven't read the book, and LOVE to discuss all the details after. This was one reason why I asked the reviewers out there, why do you review? What's the motivation to post them? I wish we could have two classes of "reviews": one intended for those who have read them and one for those who haven't. They're all mixed together as it is.

Liz B: Shannon, I hate that too! But I've decided, then, that part of that burden of being not spoiled is on me. Once I know I want to read a book? I stop reading reviews. Seriously.

I also stopped reading for the "gotcha" or the "big reveal." So while there are some times I will murder if I'm told the ending (and cannot stand the people who take joy out of doing this to other people), I also like to enjoy the journey to the end as much as the end, if that makes sense.

I do try to be very careful about spoilers. I think, would I want to know x before reading the story? And it can be tough!

I like the idea of reviews for those who have read the book -- more dicussiony type things -- but short of a second blog (which I won't do, don't' have the time) it won't stop people form reading.

That said, I think you left out a third type of review. The professional review that isn't for a reader but is for the person buying, selecting, or recommending books. So, yes, SLJ/LJ/Booklist/Kirkus/Horn Book do need to give "spoilers" because they aren't being written to get librarians to read the books but rather to buy the books. And, sometimes, the librarian has to know that spoilery stuff to buy, booktalk, recommend.

© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy


Charlotte said...

Well said!

And I'd add that in the third type of review there are non-professionals writing as gatekeepers for adults buying books for kids. Anyone who reviews picture books, or easy reader, isn't writing for the "readers." Even in middle-grade and YA, there are blogs that are being read more by kids, and blogs that are being read more by the grown-ups who buy books for them. I think I fall more in the second group, perhaps because many of my reviews have as a backdrop, not necessarily stated, my feelings about whether my own kids would like a book or not, and I want my reviews to help parents decide if their kids would like the book in question. So if the book starts out sweetly, and then ends in slash and burn horror, I think I would mention that...even at the risk of spoiling.

(Although for YA, the audience in my mind also includes other bloggers, and I try to never include bad spoilers in those reviews)

tanita✿davis said...

Oh, I agree, Liz. Three different types of reviews is a GREAT idea, stars that have actual meaning would be amazing. I think I hate Goodreads' worst of all "Really, really," liked it, vs. "liked it." I mean, please!