Alma Alexander’s post on reviewing writers (as in, writers who review other writers’ books, not the reviewing OF writers) popped up in my RSS feed as I was putting together my June reading roundup. It was timely because I always get this squeamish feeling before posting up reviews that are less than glowing. I like a lot of books, but I LOVE very few of them, and I’m not the sort to call a book “good” unless I really mean it. However, as a wannabe author, am I really brash enough to critique the works of people so far ahead of the game? Writers who have a lot more skill than I do? Writers that I might some day actually *gulp* meet? Writing a novel is hard work. Knowing that, having experienced that, shouldn’t I be kinder towards other books?
One solution would be to not review books at all, but then you’d have a monthly list of books with no commentary. Or, I could review only the books I liked, and stay nothing about the ones I didn’t. So far, I’ve chosen to post my (tempered) reviews and stand behind my (tempered) opinions.
What say you? Do you read book reviews? What do you look for in a review? Do the rules of the reviewing game change if the reviewer is also a writer? If you do vent about books that push your buttons the wrong way, do you choose to not name them?
As an aiming-to-be-published-one-day writer, I have the same worries. I try to find at least one good thing about each book I read, even if I didn’t enjoy it, and I always make a distinction between the writer and his/her book, but I’m wondering if I should stop reviewing and simply just add the books to my What I’m Reading blog without a commentary unless I have something glowing to write. I’m still not sure, but I’d definitely prefer to err on the side of caution.
*nod* I’m trying to be cautious, too. However, it chafes me to think that I can no longer express my opinions because I’m trying to join the Published Writers Club. OTOH, I prefer to be kind to people, and I have to remember that behind every book is a person who poured sweat and blood and toil into it.