Monday, July 05, 2010

Clean as a Whistle

For some reason, Romy thinks it's hilarious when I make her teddy bear, Gordy, say, "Clean as a whistle!" after she takes a bath.  I guess that is pretty funny.

Since most of you probably have the day off today, I will continue with my basement blogs tomorrow.  For today, I thought I'd talk about why I don't really talk about other people's books in my blog.  Or maybe I do, but why I don't talk about books I don't like.  See, I am both a librarian and an author.  I want people to read books.  As a librarian, one of the primary pieces of my job is finding books that match my students' preferences.  That means giving them books I didn't personally like, but I think that they might.  That's what makes a good librarian.  I'll own up to kids if I haven't read a book, but it is the rare instance when I will actually tell them I didn't like a book.  Because then they won't pick it up.  And maybe that's one less book they will read in their lives.

My authorly reason for not talking smack about books on my blog is twofold.  Number one: I don't like when people say poopy things about my books, so it would  be hypocritical for me to say turdly things about theirs.  And number two: I may someday have to see some of these people at a conference or wherever, and what if word got around that I talked snot about them?  I should probably, technically, go back through my blog and see if I ever did say nasty things about books.  I have been doing this for four years, after all.  Please don't go back and do it for me.

Why am I even blogging about this?  Because since my summer began, I have started reading at least four books and didn't like a single one of them enough to finish.  They weren't awful, but they weren't giving me anything that compelled me to finish.  I'm talking one hundred pages in, at least.  Do I waste my time and finish them?  I feel like I should.  But I also feel like there are so many other books out there I want to read that will command me to finish them.

Do you always finish books?
Oh, and my new author picture:


Andrew Smith said...

Ha! I'm the same way, Julie. I sometimes have to sit on my hands to make myself NOT write something about books that are exceedingly turdsome. And I do stop reading them, too. In fact, the only time I will ever so much as mention a title of a book is if I really liked the book, otherwise I won't ever mention the title or the author.

On the other hand, when I read something that specifically states a quantity... like, starting four books this summer and not finding any reason to keep reading them, I ALWAYS get this nervous little stomach-achey feeling that one of them was mine.

Brian James said...

I've definitely talked about books I didn't like (though I rarely ever talk about books, or rarely read books I don't like). But when I do, it's always in the frame of talking about writing in some way. I've always felt that as writer, talking about writing, I need to point out mistakes when I see them...not only for anyone paying attention but also for myself.

But I suppose that English Lit Major in me, ever so trained to pick apart prose and peck it to its untimely death.

Julie H said...

Oh, Andrew, don't you worry-- they were not any of yours! They were all books from my library shelf that I have looked at this past year and not had time to read. I hope I find one that sticks!

Brian, as a Women's Studies major, I was only trained to locate my os [figure that one out]. so I am not one for critiquing.

Anonymous said...

Hi Julie,

Love your new pic.

I very rarely abandon a book, especially if it got good reviews. I will put it aside to try at another time or try it on audio. I also rarely trash a book on my blog. But I don't say it's good when it didn't appeal to me. Instead, I try and write about what kind of reader would enjoy the story. Every book its reader, right?

I have well over a hundred children's literature blogs in my feeder and I must say that I skim most of them. I'm finding that most of them are not terribly informative, just sort of a love fest. I have a few favorites that are thoughtfully and critically written.

One prominent blogger states that she never gives a book a bad review. If she didn't like the book, she doesn't mention it in her blog. Booklist has a policy similar to that. How helpful is that to public and school librarians wanting to spend meager budgets wisely? I still read both, but also review journals that are more evaluative. It takes a lot of time though.

A month or two ago, I trashed a book on my blog and actually felt badly about it. I posted about it on FB and an author friend commented back that a bad review can be constructive as long as it's not bashing the author personally. I went back and edited the piece a tad,(:-/) but left my criticism stand.

I can only imagine how hard it must be to pour your heart and soul into birthing a book, then stand back and listen to people write about what's wrong with it.


Natalie Whipple said...

Cute pic! I agree with your reasons. The critics are for mean things—authors should recommend what they like, not talk about what they don't.

Brian James said...

Brenda makes great points.

I also agree that there is nothing wrong with a well thought out bad review. I find such reviews of my own work fascinating (even I fail to agree). The only ones that really irk me as an author are the ones that personally attack me. Such things as "The author obviously doesn't know how it is..." or "The author must think" kind of things. If as a reviewer you can't focus on the writing to show where a book fails, then you have no business reviewing books. Keep your opinions to yourself and friends and leave the world alone. That's how I feel about it.

I actually like when review journals shy away from too many bad reviews. With so many good books out there, give notice to them rather than spending so much negative energy trashing something. But there is always a need to have a few in order to develop an editorial point of view.

Julie H said...

I had no idea this post would get people talking about reviews! As a librarian, I often just skim reviews anyway and look for topics that I know my students will like, not necessarily the quality of the books, unless I find I am ordering too many books on one subject. As an author, since the book is already written, it does me no good to read constructively critical things about my books. It only makes me feel sad and want to eat candy.