Some of you know that I sometimes review books. I also follow the reviews of some of my friends and people who share my interests and who I trust to tell the truth about their opinions of books. I tend to avoid 5 star reviews in general – particularly in the lesbian fiction genre. There are a few reasons for this: one is that many people seem to be overly forgiving of crappy writing and grammar just because it’s a lesbian book and we’re just so damn happy to read a book that depicts romantic relationships without the need to mentally adjust pronouns and, two, because it’s such a tiny community that many readers personally know the authors.
I make it a rule to never review books of friends. Not just good friends but strong acquaintances. I’ll review books of authors whom I’ve had casual conversations with but not anyone I’ve gone out to dinner or had drinks with, you know, a friendly relationship. I try very hard to be honest in my reviews because I don’t want to mislead a reader into buying a book that I really thought was a piece of crap but didn’t want to say so because I may hurt the feelings of someone I want to continue to have a relationship with.
What prompted me to write this is that I saw a 5 star review this morning written by the girlfriend of the author. I mean, that’s fine that you loved the book your partner wrote and you want to share that information but I also think there should be some disclaimer in there. To be honest, I didn’t read the entire review, only the first few lines proclaiming its awesomeness, so there may be one in there. But even if there is, I’m not talking about a single review here but the concept of honesty in book reviews.
There’s an appropriate place to stroke an author’s ego, it’s called a fan letter. Of course, I could be being unfair since there are so many places to post opinions on books that many really aren’t “reviews” but simply the stating of an individual’s thoughts on what was read. We are all certainly entitled to that.
I read a blog post recently, which was then deleted, that called the rights of people to write bad reviews into question. From there it launched off into who gets to be called a reviewer and who doesn’t. As far as I know, there’sÂ no certification courseÂ for book reviewers so I’m pretty sure anyone can do it. I, personally, don’t base my buying opinions on how well written a review is. If I read reviews at all, which I don’t do often, I read a bunch of them and try to figure out what’s not ass-kissing praise or sour grapes (in the small lesfic world, there can be lots of sour grapes) and, hopefully, I can come away with an idea if a book is worth me laying out some money for.
So this turned out to be a rambling post that doesn’t really have much of a point. Except that if you’re writing a review – or simply stating your opinion about a book that you hope others will read – it’s nice to offer a small disclaimer that you’re also sleeping with/in love with/BFFs with the author. Or that she stole your girlfriend and you’ve vowed to see her destruction. Hell, I may actually want to read the account of that more than the book anyway!