This last week I received a yummy-looking Smart Cookie award from Liz Davis. Thanks, Liz! Go forth and visit her blog HERE.
I joined Goodreads last year in July. It's a great way to keep track of the books I've read as well as the ones I plan to read. It's definitely easier than typing in titles and authors in a Word document and then trying to remember to update it (now WHERE did I save that file?).
Picky Picky Me
When I review books on Goodreads, I'm admittedly stingy with 5-star ratings. I grade kinda hard. Out of my 72 books listed as already-read, only 35 of those are 5-star--but a lot of those are classics or big-name novels:
SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES by Ray Bradbury
HARRY POTTER novels (all 7) by JK Rowling
LORD OF THE FLIES by William Golding
THE HOBBIT by Tolkein
THE THRAWN TRILOGY by Timothy Zahn
LITTLE BROTHER by Cory Doctorow
NEVERWHERE by Neil Gaiman
OPEN MINDS by Susan Kaye Quinn
And then there are the books that are incredibly popular, but somehow didn't strike me as much. It very well could be a subjective thing. It also could be that I've gotten so ingrained in picking things apart in critique-mode that I simply can't sit down and just enjoy a book. It's pathetic, really. And knowing I'm going to write a review on Goodreads bolsters that.
Still. A rating of 3 stars means "Liked it." What's so bad about that? A 2-star rating means "It was ok," which doesn't mean I hated it. The 2-star books just have a lot of what I perceived as plot flaws or inconsistencies. I've never given a 1-star rating, however.
2 or 3-Stars
3: CHIME by Frannie Billingsley
3: IMAGINARY GIRLS by Nova Ren Suma
3: WINTERGIRLS by Laurie Halse Anderson
3: WITHER by Lauren DeStefano
2: BEAUTY QUEENS by Libba Bray
2: FALLEN by Lauren Kate
2: THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER by Michelle Hodkin
People I Know and Their Toes
Even worse are books written by people I'm acquainted with in the blogosphere. Ouch. How do I be honest and yet give reviews that won't hurt feelings? Should I just quit giving reviews on books written by writers I know? It's tempting.
So here's the thing. Lately I've been feeling guilty about my reviews. Even for writers I don't know. Sure, my reviews are honest and I try to write them with respect (very important to do), but I'm wondering if all that public honesty is good. Does it make me look unkind or petty?
I mean, what if Libba Bray was cruising through the reviews, or Michelle Hodkin? I'm a writer, so I KNOW the amount of hard work that goes into writing a book. I know how difficult it is to get an agent, and to get published the traditional way. And I know how subjective book-love can be. Someday I may have a book out there, and though I know not everyone will love my book, I'll probably still cringe when I get bad reviews. (Or perhaps I won't read them, because I've heard it can dampen or kill your writing enthusiasm.)
I'm not suggesting I be less than honest in my reviews, but maybe Bambi's mother is right--"If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all."
Do you belong to Goodreads?
Do you use Goodreads just to keep track of books you've read, or do you read reviews?
Do you avoid reviewing books by friends, whether on Goodreads or your blog?
Is public honesty really the best policy, or should people keep opinions to themselves?
Do you or will you read negative reviews if you have a published book out?