Monday, May 13, 2013

Monday Musings: Is Everyone A Critic?

Recently, I had been invited to join an online social group for writers.  Although I am not an author, I thought this would be a great opportunity to connect with authors and possibly increase my review opportunities.  As I was browsing this network, I came across a post entitled, "Is Everyone A Critic?"  Essentially, the author was belittling book blogs in general and expressed her opinion that not everyone should be able to offer a review of a book.  In essence, not everyone is qualified to review books (according to her standards anyway).  I admit, I was immediately offended but rather than leave a "snarky" comment...I just moved on.

But, this viewpoint has stayed with me for some time now and I find myself mulling it over quite often.  Book Blogs have quickly become an essential marketing platform for authors without a doubt.  And, I certainly feel that this particular author's opinion will only hurt her in the long run.  Although I have an academic background in Literature, I certainly do not consider myself a critic.  I simply read books that interest me personally and then proceed to share my opinions here on my blog and other book venues.  Do I think my reviews make a difference?  Yes, I think in some small way they do.  I'd like to think that my reviews may assist someone with similar reading interests with his or her next book choice.  And yet, as I have read through reviews on books that I have given high ratings, I often find low ratings from readers who seemed to have missed the deeper meaning presented in the novel.  A recent example of this is the reviews for From The Kitchen Of Half Truths By Maria Goodin (click here for my full review).  This book has already been translated into several languages, the author is a professional Psychologist and Counselor, and the book itself was amazing!  She used a great deal of symbolism throughout and without a critical look at this symbolism, many readers simply "fluffed" it off as a cute, whimsical story and completely missed the significance of the plot itself.  Which leaves me to wonder, are some book reviewers more qualified than others?  And ultimately, how important are book blogs and previous reviews when choosing your next book?


  1. As an author myself, I am truly indebted to all the awesome book bloggers out there. It is because of them that I have achieved what I have so far (I have big ambitions!). It doesn't matter to me what kind of background the blogger has - everyone is entitled to their opinion and if they didn't like my book, I can learn lessons from knowing why. And if they did (yippee!), this helps me too.
    As a reader, I take a lot of notice of what you/they have to say and this often helps me choose my next book. Often I will disagree with a review I might have read but that's okay. Can you imagine what an awful world this would be if we all had the same tastes!
    Have a great week!
    Suzy Turner, YA Author

  2. Thanks for raising the question. I would say that book reviews are simply arenas to express opinions about books read. I don’t think anyone needs to be “qualified” to review. If you can read, you can give an opinion on what you’ve read. You may not grasp the author’s intent, or indeed like it. This does not – cannot – disqualify you or your opinion. I have re-read books that, in my younger years, I disliked, misunderstood, thought outright rubbish, that I now love and cherish. All writers wherever they are and whomsoever they write for have to accept that not everyone will like their work, or even “get it”. If they can’t deal with that, they shouldn’t publish. We don’t write for the positive reviews; we write cos that’s what we must do. Regardless. :0)

  3. I answered your questions in my own blog post that you can read here: