I was writing up a review post, because there haven’t been many on this blog for a while (I am working on it), to go live today but as I was updating it two things kept making me stop and ponder. I decided I would hold fire on the review and talk about these things instead, and a few other little bits and bobs about reviews while I am at it.
One of the things that I think has been missing in the last few months on Savidge Reads with regard to my reviews, and maybe even some of my posts, is that I haven’t felt my personality has quite transmitted or translated into them. If you listen to The Readers you will possibly (slight understatement there) have noticed that my sense of humour is quite dry, occasionally a little bit immature (invariably leading to giggles/cackles) and rather dark. Yet I have always held back, especially recently, from having this incorporated into my reviews as I worried it might not look professional and might alienate people by accidentally offending them – either readers of the blog or possibly the author.
It was this that was the first real issue that was holding me back from finishing updating and then posting a review earlier today.
The second thing was a conversation/debate/vent that started on Twitter as I was working on the review. It was all about voice and I was having a small moan (only a small one) that book blogging seemed to be becoming more and more samey, not just in terms of the same new books being mentioned but also in terms of tone. Where has the distinction and individuality gone? It seems to have all become very polite, unless it’s some nasty person endlessly posting bile, and professional lately. Is this because people feel (now that all in sundry get free proof copies) that they owe the publishers a ‘fair and nice’ review or because people think a blog will lead them into reviewing books professionally? I am not sure, both could be possible.
Here I must admit that I do write some reviews and features for bookish magazines and the like; yet weirdly, and I am quoting my bosses here not just spaffing all over myself, the reason I have tended to get these gigs is because of the voice I have when I write. I got one job (way back when) over someone else once simply on the fact I was ‘cheeky and sarcastic’ and sounded ‘a bit out of the mainstream’. So why have I stopped doing that on the blog then? Fear of offending people is probably the main reason, yet how can I moan about everything getting a bit bland if I am part of the perpetuation of it?
On a completely different tangent, though still on the line of reviews, what do you make of star ratings? The reason I ask this is that I then had another conversation about the book I was reviewing with Gavin when we were recording The Readers and I discussed the review I was writing, the sarcasm involved and the fact I was going to give the book three stars. ‘Three stars, ouch’ was the response. Yet three stars isn’t bad is it? One is ‘crap’, two is ‘not really for me/not great’ three is ‘enjoyable’, four is ‘really rather good’ and five is ‘wow my eyes nearly fell out of my head at the bloody brilliance of the book’. No? I just thought I would squeeze this in even though it isn’t really relevant.
I will also add the fact I don’t really like blog posts that contain no pictures, alas this is one such blog post. What a hypocrite! Sorry about that – I should be punished, possibly publically. Anyway…
There is much to mull here but it safe to say I have decided to stop playing safe, though I am not going to suddenly become Captain Controversial either. Yet, just out of interest, I would love to know how you all feel about this? Do you find the blogosphere is becoming a bit samey and bland in book choices and in tone, or do you think I am looking in the wrong places? What are your thoughts on sarcasm and dark humour in a blog; could people take it the wrong way? Do you read book blogs just for the reviews or for the personality of the reviewer too? What are your thoughts on the star ratings system? Blimey, you’ve a lot to answer haven’t you?