The Boogie Books Blog

Eschew the Review - The responsibility of the reader.

I am in the very lucky position of presenting a monthly book review, as a guest of Belinda Sanders, on ABC Southern Queensland.  It is so much fun, I love the concept of radio, and I really enjoy working with Belinda.

Each month, I bring to her a book I have loved; one that has resonated with me, which stays with me, with deeply interesting characters or journeys.  Well, this was the plan! 

Belinda asked me to bring a book I really didn’t like.   Of course, I read books I don’t enjoy. (Well, at least I start them!)  I am a member of a book club; I listen to the suggestions of the ladies I go to the gym with; I even pick up the odd tip from the sideline of the netball court.  Actually – I have been known to purchase a book because I have liked the look of the person carrying that title in an airport.  (Spooky but true!)   In 2004, there were 8,602 books published[1]… you need some insights to work out which ones are going to have your attention, especially if most of us don’t read six books a year[2]!

I read prolifically, well, I think I do – a couple of books a month.  Sometimes, I read deeply, sometimes I don’t.  I think it is the latter which genuinely influences my opinion about a book.   The last book I ‘reviewed’ was Eleven Seasons by Paul Carter. 

I hated it!

Wow.  It was a biggie even for me (and truly, I never shy away from proffering my opinion!)  I felt completely uninspired, hated the character’s lameness, wanted jump start him into some sort of positive action, shake the good people around him in front of him again…  Blah! 

It didn’t help when I read other reviews describing the book as ‘uplifting.’   It didn’t worry me too much that it was set heavily in the world of AFL (although, I did get bored with the football descriptions and it didn’t help me read deeply.)

Thank goodness for Paul, his other reviews were substantially more intellectual, rather than emotional.  I had an epiphany afterwards, and realised it wasn’t the story; it was because it resonated so closely to my own story.  It was set in the turbulence of adolescence and that was enough to loose me.   I don’t want to revisit the clumsiness, the overwhelming sense of insecurity, the inability to communicate my feelings, the self-medicating, the self-flagellation, the self-loathing.  I couldn’t get away from this quick enough.  As each birthday passed, I loved the evolution away from ‘self’ and quickly became entrenched as a business partner, a wife, a mother… anything other than self. 

This overwhelming realisation, this honesty, is a good thing… Especially for a reviewer!

I want to remain positive about the books I read, recommend them by pressing them into another person’s hands and being excited about the ‘share’.  I know the pain, the euphoria, the joy, of publishing a book and I truly believe there is no such thing as a bad book; rather, some books sell a few copies, others sell millions.

Now I know what to steer clear from and what to look forward to.  I want to go on a journey I will never be able to take; to travel through lands I may never visit; learning about cultures, which are not mine.  I need books which are not so much uplifting of the spirits, but rather tend to my absolute desire to walk, albeit temporarily, in someone else’s shoes.  For me, if it is a road I have travelled, I certainly don’t want to do a u-turn and revisit, not matter how hideous or how fabulous the experience! 

After all, there are too many amazing stories out there all shared with all the earnestness and passion a writer can bring to the process and readers need to bring the same energy to the table!






[2] Heard this ‘somewhere’ but for the life of me, can’t find the reference!

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