- Fizzy Thoughts: Honesty


Thursday, November 20, 2008

I receive a lot of review books, but I have never once told lies about the book just because I got a free copy of it. However, some authors seem to feel that if they send you a copy of their book for free, you should give it a positive review.

Do you think reviewers are obligated to put up a good review of a book, even if they don’t like it? Have we come to a point where reviewers *need* to put up disclaimers to (hopefully) save themselves from being harassed by unhappy authors who get negative reviews?

I haven't weighed in on this topic (and last week's controversy) yet, mostly because I was out of town last week and had limited internet access.

I can certainly understand all of the various stances on this topic...I'm a big believer in doing what you feel is right. Since I've been quiet through all of the debate, I figure it's time to ramble on about my approach to book blogging. Although if you've read my blog for very long, you can probably figure out where I stand. And if you know me in person, then you also know the O word (obligated) is a bad word in our household.

First, I receive very few review copies. This month is an exception, because I'm doing a few blog tours and author guest posts...but the reality is those are rare events around here. Almost all of the books I review are books I've bought. Some I've won in contests and a few have been mooched through BookMooch. But the majority are books I paid for. As I commented elsewhere today, my money, my thoughts.

Second, like many people, I started my blog for me, because I can't remember squat and I wanted a way to keep track of the books I read, and also it was a way to keep in touch with friends. That it has mutated into a book blog (but still with a bunch of other stuff thrown in) with people who regularly read and comment is still a surprise.

Third, I'm sarcastic. It's part of my personality and I want my blog to reflect my personality. I know I have readers that like that side of me. And some that don't. But we're all unique individuals with different styles. I don't want to read identical blogs with identical thoughts.

Fourth, I always feel weird when I say I've written a review. Because I don't really consider my posts to be reviews. They're my thoughts...disjointed, not very analytical, and usually indicative of my gut reaction to a book. And my mood. This week I've been especially silly, and I like to be silly. Some days the silly isn't there and I'll just write a quick synopsis of a book. And some days I get a little pissy. So you could say I offer the good, the boring, and the ugly.

Having said all that, I do try to tone down the sarcasm and be more thoughtful (not thoughtful as in considerate (although that too) but thoughtful as in a well-thought-out post) when I'm writing about a book I was asked to review. However, like I said before, I don't receive too many free books. And this leads me to something I'd already been thinking about before last week...

I'm not sure I really want the free books anymore. Books from random contests and books friends offer to send me, yes. But books I'm obliged to curtail my personality over...mmm, maybe not. Believe it or not, it's hard for me to sound intelligent and offer up review-like posts on books. It's a lot of work, and well, I already have a job.

Besides, I've got oodles of books wedged into crowded shelves. I'm sure they'd like a little attention. in 2009.

14 comment(s):

Ti said...

I enjoy your reviews. They are different and quirky and totally you. If I ever met you in person, it wouldn't be any different than me knowing you through your blog. Does that make sense?

Terri said...

This is a wonderful response to the question; I appreciate your thoughtfulness. I especially like your third point, about your blog reflecting your personality. We definitely don't want you modifying your style!

I don't enjoy writing reviews either and need to stop asking for those freebies!

elizabethwillse said...

A more introspective and self-aware answer than I've seen to this topic.
I think you may be too hard on yourself though, about the free books you are sent to review.

beastmomma said...

Having a free book can be stressful. I really agree with your sentiments here.

Beth F said...

Great answer! Don't like taking ARCs because I like to have the freedom to choose my books based on mood, not on some obligation to write a review.

Thanks for stopping by: my header is indeed Europe. Brugge to be specific. It's one of all-time favorite places.

gautami tripathy said...

There are some books I am very glad to receive like The Hereti's Daughter or The 19th Wife.

Read my BTT post!

Care said...

Well said. I've only received one book from a publicist and it caused me so much stress. I ended up not reviewing it nor even rating it. In fact, I'm not sure I even listed it in my past tense list... Which isn't right, now that I think abt it. I mean, I did read it and my blog is most definitly just me and my nutty thoughts. (and to respond to Beth F - Brugge is one of MY fave places ever, too!)

bermudaonion said...

You write great reviews! By the way, I love your sarcasm.

3M said...

Great post!

I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I recently became very uncomfortable when I had to write a bad review for a tour. But when it comes right down to it, I have to *honestly* write what I feel about a book. I'm not going to pretend I liked a book when I didn't.

I can get free books from the library.

dawn said...

Well, that was a very clear and un-fizzy thought!

I agree that we all have our own blog personality, like our own person-personality (huh?) ... readers who connect with you will "get" what you're saying. (By "you" I mean "one", that is, each of us book bloggers individually, but that sounded stilted, so I didn't write it that way ....huh? again!) ... I think you know what I'm getting at!

Dar said...

I think you're reviews are great-they are honest and touched with your personality. Plus, the quirky side of you is what first started me reading your blog-don't ever lose that.

softdrink said...

Well then...my quirkiness has been validated and it's here to stay! ;-D

trish said...

DUDE! You're so right! Writing reviews IS a lot of working. And I'm not really digging it lately.

Veens said...

awe-freaking-some answer :)
neither do i get books for reviews :) yep i really like getting books i win in contests... and I SPEND money BYING everything i read :D so my money my thoughts LOL!

that's terrific..

my money my thoughts..

and i like yur reviews.. they are funny.. and they are just what makes me smile all the time! so u go-girl [ that meand keep on writing your funky reviews :)] :)

In a real sense, people who have read good literature have lived more than people who cannot or will not read. It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish. ~S.I. Hayakawa

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.
~St. Augustine

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.
~Mark Twain

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