Thursday, January 24, 2013

Thursday's Thoughts: On Being Critical

So... Discussion posts. Something that I have always wanted to done but never felt confident enough to do. But I have now decided to take the plunge (thanks to Jamie over at The Perpetual Page-Turner for the inspiration)- we'll see how this goes. Perhaps it will become a weekly feature! 

Over the past six months or so I have noticed that I am being increasingly more and more critical when it comes to what I read/ how I review. Take for instance, "Stealing Parker" by Miranda Kenneally. I know that had I read this book a year or two ago I would have been ALL OVER it, giving it four, if not five, stars. But now? I gave it two stars (or "Black City" by Elizabeth Richards, where I have it 2 stars, or or "Easy" by Tammara Webber, where I only gave it 3 stars, or... Oh gawd, a million other books). Or, where the average star rating I used to give books was in the 4.5 range is now in the ~3 star range. Additionally, a couple of months ago I did the one thing that I never thought that I would- I DNFed some books ("Dearly, Beloved" by Lia Habel and "Anna Dressed in Blood" by Kendare Blake). Furthermore, I can't help but scratch my head when I see people going crazy for some books (for instance, "The Diviners" by Libba Bray), especially, in my opinion, when other books are so much more deserving ("The Lost Girl" by Sangu Mandanna).

And I'm not quite sure why this is. I don't know if it is because my friends/ bookish peeps are rubbing off on me, if, as I get older, I am am no longer able to connect to characters in their teens as much as I used to, especially those in high school (I don't know about y'all, but high school was all around good for me, despite being a HUGE victim of bullying in elementary school. Our high school didn't really have any cliques, almost everyone knew everyone else and everyone got along- it was nothing like high school as portrayed on television/ in books- or maybe I am just really lucky with this being the case), if, through my writing, I have somewhat of a better idea of the relationship between reader/ writer, because of library school (nowadays when I read a book I can't help but wonder where it would fit in a library setting, if at all, and who the appropriate audience would be), or if I am really coming into my own- truly understanding where my likes and dislikes lie. 

And it's not that I want to be critical- I really, really, REALLY hate it. The main reason being because I used to enjoy so many more books that I read than I do now. I used to always finish a book with a large smile on my face and a bubbly feeling in my chest- whereas now that is a rarity (in fact, the first time, in probably close to six months, that I experienced that feeling was when I recently read "Scarlet" by Marissa Meyer). That being said, I wouldn't say that becoming more critical has made reading feel like a burden, that I am becoming disenchanted with it, or anything of that nature, it's more so along the lines that every time I pick up a book I squeeze it tightly, close my eyes, and repeat to myself, not unlike a manta, "Please be one of those books, please be one of those books, please..."

So what do you think? Would you consider yourself to be a critical reader and/ or reviewer? If so, why do you think that that is? And how do you deal with it? 


  1. I completely know what you mean. For me, it's been since I started writing. I'm not sure when you started writing, but I know it's pretty common.

    Anyway, I rarely comment, but always read. I just wanted to say I know how you feel. :)

    1. Larissa, I can't tell you how much of a relief it is that I'm not alone in that! And now that I think about it I did start writing about the same time that I noticed this trend. Thanks so much!

  2. It's a good thing that you're now giving 3 stars and below! Being a critical reader just means you know the difference between a good/bad book by reading a lot of terrible ones. YA has been developing really amazing books in the last couple of years in terms of character development and prose which means readers are starting to realize the quality of books more closely. I'm a critical reader and found that University English classes and Grade 12 writer's craft have helped me become a better reader. :)

    1. I wish that writer's craft had helped me become a better reader! All I can remember is being SUPER self-conscious about what I was doing (who woulda think that a couple years later I would have a WIP!). ;)

  3. Great post, Avery! I have to say that I think it's probably a lot of different factors that contribute to bloggers giving books lower ratings. No doubt becoming older and coming into your own—knowing your likes and dislikes better—has something to do with it. But also the simple fact that as a blogger you're reading lots of different types of books that you probably wouldn't pick up on your own. That seems to be the case for me. I still occasionally find the "OMG EVERYONE EVER NEEDS TO READ THIS!" type of book, but it's happening much less than it did before I was a book blogger. The amount of duds I've read in the past year and a half is sad and does, on occasion, make reading feel like a burden, but I still feel like there's nothing better than picking up a book and realizing its one of THOSE books!

    Jesse @ Pretty In Fiction

    1. I guess that I'm lucky in the fact that I wouldn't say that I've read duds, just more so books where after I finish them I just don't really feel anything.

      But yes- HOORAY for THOSE books!

  4. Ha! I love that I get a link in a post about this.

    I think it probably would be more fun if every book was that great experience, and yet I don't think that's possible. I kind of like being a bit more critical... It means that when I do find a five-star read it's quite special, and they stand out more. I do wonder why some books with such hype don't do it for me, but at this point I figure whatever I like, I like. I guess it's just a combination of all the things you said... getting older, finding your reading tastes, etc.

    Oh and I agree about high school. There were more popular kids and more nerdy kids, but it was never so separated out into cliques. There were some 'groups' but you could easily be friends with lots of different people.


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