I had a beloved philosophy professor in college who was well-known for handing out Cs and Ds. In my first year, fall semester, I took a class called “Inner and Outer Freedom.” Professor Huntington Terrell had high standards. He cheerfully told our group that a C meant we had done a good job and that a D meant we were close. Once my good friend got an A on a paper and Hunt read it in class. Her paper became the gold standard.
Yesterday I read about a reader who posted a positive review and gave it 3 stars. The author sent her a message, said it sounded more like a 4-star review, and asked her to change the rating. The reviewer didn’t. In fact, she removed the review.
It’s easy to say you loved a book or you really liked it. Those are clearly 4- and 5-star books. It’s trickier with the 3-star ratings. But why should that be? Three-stars means I also liked the book. And anyway, I’m just Book Club Mom. My opinions are subjective. But I’ve always tried to be true to my opinions because I want people to know my tastes, to know me. That’s why I often talk about my favorite book of all-time, Youngblood Hawke. Not everyone liked that book, but it’s fun to be different and promote discussion. And shouldn’t books like All the Light We Cannot See, To Kill a Mockingbird and Life After Life be on my Book Club Mom pedestal? I think so. One person’s opinion.
Yet I find myself thinking and thinking about how best to give a book a 3-star rating. I worry that people will think I’m too negative, too picky. After all, I’m not writing the books, I’m just reading them. I am sensitive to the hard work that goes into writing a book and getting it published.
I’m particularly sensitive to self-published and indie authors who have to do it all themselves. I worry that even talking about this on my blog will offend these hard-working writers. I also know how hard it is to get people to read indie and self-published books and then post reviews.
And I’ve read many excellent books written by my self-published and indie author friends as well as by friends who have well-known publishers. I highly recommend them. Here are some and I have others in the queue:
Calmer Secrets and Calmer Girls by Jennifer Kelland Perry
Death in a Mudflat, Death in a Dacron Sail
and Death in a Red Canvas Chair by N. A. Granger
The Bone Curse, Eating Bull and The Seneca Scourge by Carrie Rubin
Leaving the Beach by Mary Rowen
Second Chance Romance by Jill Weatherholt
The Storyteller Speaks: Powerful Stories to Win Your Heart by Annika Perry
So my point of this post isn’t to raise hell. It’s more to address the tip-toed-around subject of book reviews, from every side. Because isn’t it normal to have different opinions? If someone says he or she doesn’t like a book, aren’t you interested in knowing why, not to start a fight, but to hear another point of view?
What do you think?
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