We all know that blissful moment of receiving a good review. Written on Amazon or Goodreads, or in some other publication, it is what writers crave. Or that pleasure might come from someone coming saying; ‘I really enjoyed that last book you wrote’. And even better, though not financially so; ‘I’ve lent it to … I said they had to read it.’ The latter happened to me again recently and I’ve lived on that wave of praise for several days. It’s bolstered my ego at a time when what I’m trying to write is bogged down; I’m able to tell myself that I did it once so I must be able to do it again.
I know the need for reviews as a reader too. Recommendations are essential. I’m not necessarily swayed to buy or borrow a book wholly on someone else’s say so, but it’s a good guide. Prizes encourage me as I want to know why, what value, what merit did this book have over so many others. Remembering always that much of it is subjective. We all like different things; this is demonstrated by the lists of bestsellers. They rarely feature a book that I’ve read or want to read.
There are other ways in, of course. I recently went to a Poetry Recital by Inua Ellams, the poet and playwright. It is one of the best evenings I’ve spent in a theatre; the Minerva Theatre, Chichester. He was amusing and heartbreakingly honest, his poetry a joy. From that I learned of a book of essays, ‘The Good Immigrant‘. He is a contributor to this important read, another revelation. Serendipitous for I attended the event on a friend’s recommendation. To this crowd funded book I would give four stars; it is an education.
Awarding stars, verbally or by the purchase of a book, is key to one of those reviews, and my dilemma. Do I think okay, or like, or love, or am I amazed? I rarely write about a book I’ve found of no worth. Dishonest maybe, but having wasted time reading something I haven’t liked, I don’t want to use up another minute telling the world what I think, stars or no stars.