My philosophy on reviewing books.

When I review a book, I like to keep in mind that a human wrote the book. It sounds obvious but I have read many reviews where the author is criticised inhumanly.

Disclaimer: I am another hobbyist blogger, which means I don’t get paid to review books or blog. All opinions are my own.

Everybody knows that reviews are biased according to the reader’s preferences. When I am criticising a book based on its plot, I am not talking about the author. Neither do I think my review matters. It’s not complicated to understand that everyone has very different tastes and opinions, so what I find distasteful isn’t necessarily the same for another.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik is a very popular science fiction standalone novel. While I did enjoy many aspects of the plot, I can’t say it was perfect. I thought Sarkan’s dialogues were repetitive and the portrayal of Agnieszka as immensely flawed was almost forced. Kasiya’s individuality declined with every page. (Spoiler alert) The relationship between Sarkan and Agnieszka felt unnecessary beyond words. It seemed like it was simply there to appeal to romance readers.

But it was very close to being the winner of BEST YOUNG ADULT FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION category in goodreads for 2015. That must mean I am of the minority with a somewhat ‘negative’ opinion. My point of sharing these thoughts aren’t to say that the author is awful. She isn’t. The book was written well, although it was quite clear that Ms. Novik fell in love with the word rivulet. Which I completely understand, sometimes when I fall in love with a word, I irritate the shi* out of my sister by repeating it continuously.

Reviews are like passing down information through a lineage of readers to help them make decisions. One will come across positive reviews and negative reviews and eventually a decision of their own. It also arises from a desire to share our thoughts and opinions. Why does this desire arise?  That I can’t answer.

When I am criticising the way a book is written, it is not to say that I am better at writing or the author is incompetent. Usually, it is the Editor’s job to ensure that the book is flawless. At least, in terms of spelling and grammar.

Looking for Alaska by John Green is a book with over seven hundred thousand reviews in goodreads. A majority of which is five stars. I disliked it. Alaska seemed flat, though she was a ‘smart feminist.’ But that’s not why I disliked the book. I was really looking forward to reading the book. Mostly because I loved the cover of it. I know, don’t judge a book by its cover. But this was almost three years ago.

I found that the writing both bored and irked me. It seemed trying too hard/lacking in flow. I liked the philosophical discussions it had but it just didn’t appeal to me. This is not me saying he is an awful writer. On the contrary, a majority of people did love it. I share my disappointment to inform another reader of the flip side of the reviews.

Reviews are important because they help to spread the word. Although, one shouldn’t take a review personally. Usually, my book reviews are positive. When I appreciate something, I want to share that piece of treasure with my fellow readers who might stumble across my blog. When it is disappointing, I also want to inform my fellow readers before they come to a decision.

It is the art of being a human who reads, you see. Not to be taken at heart.

 

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My philosophy on reading

Pretty sure the context for using the word philosophy is all wrong in the title. Pardon me.

When it comes to reading, I have to be careful about which book I choose to read. Mainly because I usually buy the books that I read, as I once briefly mentioned. I can borrow books from the library which is a 10 minutes walk away from my home, but of course it’s not always (definitely not for the most part) possible to find the books I am looking for.

Finding a good english book was somewhat a luxury in my little town. So a good book really was an event in my life. Although, I regret not spending more time reading Bangla books, probably because I was introduced to reading in the english language. It’s unusually difficult to start reading in another language even when you are native to it! Anyways, it really made me appreciate reading.

I do look at the reviews in goodreads before buying a book but it’s not always the deciding factor. If I am at a book shop which doesn’t happen often sadly, I will look at the synopsis and read a few pages to ensure that the writing is engaging and the plot isn’t another cliché. It sounds time consuming but life’s too short to read ‘bad’ books. (a cliché, I know)

So far, I have read 8 out of the 35 books that I plan to read this year. Not sure if I will manage to do so but I shall try. I used to be the sort that finishes a book even if it’s not enjoyable. Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman was the first book I stopped reading because it just wasn’t for me, even though The Ocean At The End Of The Lane is one of my all time favourite. Before that, the last ‘bad’ book I read was The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window And Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson and it was painful to say the least.

I did skim through to the end and felt pretty good about it until I realised what a waste of my time it was. I know a lot of people loved that book, my friend and my ex teacher sure did. But it just didn’t appeal to my sense of humour. I did find it amusing at parts but it’s not suited to my taste.

Tea with the book is not mandatory but much loved. Generally, I am clumsy but don’t usually spill drinks on my book. An empty stomach makes me really uncomfortable, so snacks are necessary too sometimes. Not all the time since I get annoying crumbs on the pages.

I don’t have a specific place or time of the day when I like to read. When I have books present with me, I will spent most of my free time reading (another good reason for not having an abundance of books). Sometimes it is frowned upon by the people around me. Not always but sometimes. I prefer reading at home than anywhere else in the world.

I wonder what reading habits other people may have…?

 

Hopefully

During my gap year, which will begin from the 27th of June, I plan to do many exciting things. Two of the things that I am personally looking forward to doing is: decluttering my horrid mess of a wardrobe and renovating this blog. The latter being more exciting, although, the former will bring me immense peace of mind. And a little bit of travelling too, hopefully.

I thought I would update the few regular readers of my blog (thank you, I see you! Your perhaps unintentional support means a lot more than you may think). I will be changing the name of the blog, cause let’s face it; I am not getting any younger. Plus, I cannot say ‘oh, my blog is called: a silly young girl’ without cringing. Henceforth, I shall brainstorm a non-cringeworthy name more relevant to the contents of my blog. Suggestions are much appreciated.

I also want to get back into painting. I stopped because the best I can do is copy pictures of flowers from the internet. Oh, I meant sketch. And being a perfectionist, it is so hard to look at failed attempts of more complicated things. But I really do want to learn more about painting with acrylic, oil and pastels. Also, understand the different concepts that are used in painting. If any artist is reading this, help! (I have no idea where to begin)

As a child, painting was my thing. Then again, isn’t it everyone’s! Time flies when I attempt to paint or sketch. That’s always a good sign. I will have enough time to really learn about painting and hopefully become an amateur painter! For inspiration and insight, I will be visiting various art galleries.

I am going to read books, a lot. Some of the books that I hope to read are: Trust me, I am a junior doctor by Max Pemberton, Better and The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande, Muhammad by Karen Armstrong, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë etc. Also, I am going to properly reread The Shadow Of The Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.

But I am not going to lock myself up and read all day. I do realise how much I enjoy solitary hobbies! Although, I will be volunteering continuously while hunting (day and night) for a new job. That’s social enough! But I will keep an eye out for opportunities. What kind of opportunities? I don’t know.

Okay, maybe my gap year isn’t going to be so exciting. Truthfully, I am a simple person. Being able to read, write and leave my house once a week is enough to keep me happy. But this is going to be my year of saying yes. I mean it. I am bounded by my word to say yes to all opportunity that may come my way, unless there’s a reason to say no. Note that, I have used the word reason and not the word excuse! I am scared.

I am going to become healthier. That’s right, I said it! No, I am not going to write a post about my failure in December (or will I?). If you don’t believe in change, prepare to be amazed. I have started my transition, so hopefully I will begin writing helpful (I really mean that) articles (occasionally) about what to do if you want to become more healthy and fit. I do not claim to be perfect. I am not fit or skinny. On the contrary, I have gained weight. But my incentive is to change my lifestyle gradually for the better and lose unnecessary weight in the process. So far it is looking alright.

My target is to blog at least thrice a week. One of them will always be poetry, one may be a reflection on something that I believe could be helpful to someone and the third will be my experience as a volunteer. I should keep notes of what I learn as a volunteer, but I don’t. So, this will be an excellent way to do so. Keeping in mind that, a lot of the details will be altered because confidentiality is important. However, the key story and reflection will remain as accurate as possible.

All of these might seem awfully less to do in a year. But I will be spending almost half of the year applying to universities and sitting entry exams, assuming my A level results will be good (at this point, I am not feeling very confident). I will also do the regular things like go out with my family and friends, that should be fun. All in all, I am going to be open to and seek out opportunities that will help me grow into a better person.


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