To review or not to review?

What you see on this blog is the result of some pretty random circumstances. Some of my favorite books are on here, and some of my favorites sit quietly on my shelf, and might never to be reviewed.

There have been some books where I felt it wasn’t right to review them; Anne Frank’s Diary is one of them. I just didn’t feel good critiquing the writing efforts of a 14 year old Holocaust victim. Yet, I reviewed Malcolm X and Gandhi, authors who have both met tragic ends at the hands of extremists.

Other books are so daunting that I just can’t do it. This generally happens when I love a book – I find that I’m paralysed because I fear I won’t be able to adequately portray why its so special or do the book justice (finishing the Paradise Lost review was a miracle. I’m not sure how I did it, but the review still pales in comparison to my love of the book and explaining the epicness of John Milton). Some books that fall into this category are Nausicaa by Hayao Miyazaki, Y: The Last Man by Brian K Vaughan and The Once and Future King by T H White. I also tend to find fiction harder to review than non-fiction, hence why two thirds of my reviews are of the latter.

There are some  books that are so heinously shit that it would be a waste of time to review them. All I would be doing is slagging the book off without any form of discussion or insight. Other books are neither here nor there, and there just isn’t anything interesting to say about them.

Another more mundane reason why I don’t review some books is that I finish them and don’t make notes fast enough (‘A Short History of Nearly Everything’ by Bill Bryson is an example). I can’t remember succinctly the exact points I wanted to make and which sections I wanted to quote. I promise myself that when I read them again I will make notes and write a review; but I probably won’t read them again for years because my reading list is so huge. I wonder if other people with blogs have the same kind of occurances.

Anyway, here is a list of books I have completed lately. Hopefully they will pass through the trials I’ve mentioned above and make it to this blog:

  • A Walk In The Woods – Bill Bryson
  • At Home – Bill Bryson
  • Breaking the Sound Barrier – Amy Goodman
  • Standing Up to Madness – Amy Goodman
  • Static – Amy Goodman
  • The Exception to the Rulers – Amy Gooman
  • Through the Narrow Gate – Karen Armstrong
  • The Spiral Staircase – Karen Armstrong
  • Civilisation and Its Discontents – Sigmund Freud
  • A Thirsty Evil – Gore Vidal
  • Empire of Illusion – Chris Hedges
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4 Responses to To review or not to review?

  1. Agatha82 says:

    Wow, you read a lot. I used to read loads before I became a writer, since I started writing my novel, 2 years ago, my reading has diminished, with the exception of reading “how to write” book and other assorted stuff that’s not exactly “exciting.” I did manage to re-read my fave vampire novels just so I would see what my fave writers had done again and I also found another fave author (James Herbert)

    Like you, I can see how sometimes, you just cannot review a book because you need to really analyse what’s good/bad/boring about it and when you’re in the midst of reading it, it’s hard to stop and taken notes and that’s why I’ve never done a book reivew on my blog (though it was one of my plans originally…)

    • goldnsilver says:

      Heh, I should be doing what you’re doing. I keep going ‘it’s research!’ everytime I read another book instead of sitting down and writing, but I know I’m full of shit. Lately I just can’t face the stress of writing so I hide in books.

      One thing I have to say about reading classics though – it does educate you a lot, but it also tends to stifle your drive a little, because they challenge seems too big. You think to yourself ‘I won’t ever be able to write this well’.

      I hate ‘how to write’ books. They just stress me out. I think everyone is different – if you read anything about authors they own have their peculiar method of writing – yet a writing book tries to force you to follow one way.

  2. eva2ava says:

    For someone who is so involved in the written word, I think it’s a good question. How can you write without reading? I guess Emily Dickinson is the only example I know. I have on my desk at this very moment two books on how to write (and one encyclopedia on all things Christopher Walken). Frankly I’m only interested in the Walken book because I’m afraid I won’t be able to write the way these books tell me to…

    If you keep writing reviews, though, I will read them.

    • goldnsilver says:

      Ah, I’m sorry about the absense. I have a few posts lined up – one of which I’ve finished today. I hope you enjoy it.

      Also, Christopher Walken is pretty bad arse, so an encyclopedia on him is pretty good deal.

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