Friday, August 22, 2014
All those 'okay' books
Over the last few months I have been posting quite a few reviews on this blog site. They generally attract a healthy number of page views. However, I find myself struggling with the reviewing process. It’s not that I find it difficult to review a book. I quite enjoy the process. I think I have a good eye for it. What is troubling me is that I find myself giving so many of the books three or three and a half stars. I should point out that there are quite a few books that I have chosen not to review because I could not rate them that highly.
I become a little tired of reading books that I consider to be ‘okay’, ‘not bad’ or even ‘quite good’. I suspect that those following my reviews may become a little tired of reading such reviews. Am I too harsh as a reviewer? Am I expecting too much?
I always begin reading a book with high hopes. I always want this book to be one I can praise highly and enthusiastically recommend to others. ‘Not bad’ or ‘quite good’ may sound like damning praise for a book, and perhaps it is. Unfortunately, as with almost everything we measure in the natural or human world, most books will fall somewhere in that middle category of okay/not bad. I will not discuss the ‘terrible’, the outsiders to the left of the ‘normal curve’. I long for the exceptional, those in the right extremity. They are inevitably rare.
This is a dilemma for me as a reader and as a reviewer. There are so many books out there, millions upon millions of them. Reading takes time. I want to spend that time profitably.
Let me emphasise that these three and three and a half star books are not bad. I don’t want to offend these writers or belittle their efforts. But as someone who loves reading and has too little time for it, I am looking for something that rises above the crowd.
So I am questioning whether this reviewing process is of any great benefit to me, to the writers or to those who read this blog. Should I be restricting my reviews to those that do stand out in some measure? Or do people find reviews of ‘okay’ books helpful?