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Let's Procrastinate With Books! Post One

For osprey_archer, from this list, comment if you want to play. I guess I'll do one of these every day (that I have internet access) until I run out.

13. The fictional character you want to believe you resemble and the fictional character you actually resemble

I thought this question would be hard, but on second thought, it's embarrassingly easy! I want to believe I'm Miss Jane Marple, all gimlet eye and empathy. I'm actually Lord Peter Wimsey, trapped in an endless cycle of self-deprecation and showing off, totally committed to wasting my resources on silly jokes, useless handwringing, red wine, and lattes.

Well, that's not entirely accurate. Sometimes I also drink white wine!

26. Do you read reviews of books? Before or after you read the books themselves? Why? Why not?

It depends! I used to read a lot of book reviews and sort of subconsciously depended on them to guide my own tastes, because I don't trust myself not to have stupid opinions that are wrong, and for most of my life I thought it would be very bad if people thought I was stupid or wrong. I've tried to get away from that in the past few years, and the Wednesday Reading Meme etc. has been part of that. These days I usually don't look at reviews for things I plan to read, though sometimes I do. I try to go in blind first, which sometimes leads to obvious instances of me not knowing what I'm talking about. Sometimes I do read reviews of new books that I might want to read later, and I always like reading older book reviews, both of books I've read and of books I probably won't read. But I read vastly fewer book reviews of all kinds now than I did ~10 years ago, which is probably good in some ways and a loss in others.

If I'm having a hard time figuring out why I dislike a book, sometimes I look at the reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. They're short and they vary a lot, and it can be helpful to look at the reasons other people have given for not liking something and try to separate the ones I agree with from the ones that I think are missing the point.

30. The book you read the blurb of, constructed a version of in your mind, and were promptly disappointed by once you finally got around to actually reading it

This used to happen a lot because I'm picky about prose. I've gotten better over the past few years, but it's still easier for me to give up than to push on through unformed or uncertain or confused writing, even if I love the idea. Most recently: Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire. A beautiful title for a beautiful premise (a boarding school for children returned from portal fantasy worlds), but I could tell after the first two chapters that the writing and I weren't going to get along. I might still try to read the rest, but I'll probably just let it go.


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 15th, 2016 06:13 pm (UTC)
I read Reviews, but only after I have read a book. :)
Sep. 15th, 2016 06:24 pm (UTC)
That's been most of what I do these days! I try to wait until I've posted, if it's something I'm going to post about. But sometimes I get curious and want to read all the reviews of something, and sometimes I want to rubberneck at bad reviews.
Sep. 15th, 2016 06:44 pm (UTC)
I read a lot of reviews, but mostly that's because spoilers make me less anxious and because reviews let me sort out the very, very few books that I might actually be able to read from the many that I really can't.

I'm also fascinated by how people interact with books, what catches people, what creates a book-meets-wall moment, all of that.

Oh, and reading reviews of things I know I'm never going to try to read lets me have some idea of what people like and don't about books that everyone (except me) is reading.
Sep. 16th, 2016 03:24 pm (UTC)
That makes sense! Do you find that most reviews are helpful in this way, or do they tend to leave out the information you're looking for?

It's really fascinating to see what other people's nope-out points are! I don't think mine are all that consistent - like there's no one thing that will always do the trick

I read a lot of reviews of Fifty Shades of Grey when it was the hot topic, because I'd tried to read the book itself and it was too boring to get through, but I was interested in the conversation around it. And I've never been able to work up the will to read a Jonathan Franzen book (SOMEDAY, maybe), but I enjoy how worked up people get about Jonathan Franzen.

(I got kind of defensive of Purity based on some bad reviews, though not defensive enough to actually read a word of it).
Sep. 19th, 2016 03:32 pm (UTC)
Reviews that try to avoid spoilers tend not to be very useful. Reviews that include some analysis tend to be better. The hard part is figuring our how well my tastes/needs line up with the reviewer's, but I think that's true no matter what one's looking for in a review.
Sep. 16th, 2016 02:37 am (UTC)
Sep. 16th, 2016 12:04 pm (UTC)
Back before I discovered fandom, I used to read Amazon reviews to get some sense of community with other people who had read my favorite books. (Or a sense of community with people who despised the same books I despised.) I also used to read the introductions to classic novels, but I have learned to leave those until after I read the book itself because they always have spoilers. I feel these introductions should be printed as afterwords.

I've heard this in other reviews of Every Heart a Doorway, and it makes me so sad. Such a good premise! Apparently totally wasted!
Sep. 16th, 2016 03:34 pm (UTC)
Re: Amazon - I still do that from time to time, when fandom isn't providing enough squeeback to satisfy. It's nice to know there are other people out there who feel the way you do, even when they can't spell or remember character names.

I can't say for sure that the premise of EHAD is totally wasted, because I never got past Chapter 2. But it's moved to the bottom of my "read this eventually, maybe" pile, which makes me sad because I still love the title such a lot.
Sep. 16th, 2016 07:49 pm (UTC)
I also used to read the introductions to classic novels, but I have learned to leave those until after I read the book itself because they always have spoilers.

And that's if they haven't already spoiled you on the back covers, too. I mean, can't academics and classic book publishers ever get that for all the people who know the story, there is always some teenager sitting down for the first time who didn't want to know who died and who married who, thank you.

(Teen me found this v v annoying. Arrogant literary people who casually assumed I already knew about the book I hadn't even read yet, what was with that?)
Sep. 16th, 2016 10:19 pm (UTC)
When I read Jane Eyre, the editor casually spoiled the ending in a footnote.

I have not trusted editions of the classics with footnotes since.
Sep. 16th, 2016 03:12 pm (UTC)
I largely read reviews of non-fic books when there are a lot of books on the topic, otherwise I generally don't bother with reading reviews.
Sep. 16th, 2016 03:47 pm (UTC)
I used to read so many reviews of non-fiction books, instead of reading the books! Lately it's been all fiction all the time for me, but I'd like to get back to reading some nf sometimes. Or at least some reviewers' thoughts on nf.
Sep. 16th, 2016 03:52 pm (UTC)
I like to read Wars of the Roses book reviews for the ones where they complain about it being confusing, but that's because it is confusing. It's not the necessarily the writers fault. Also what I've learn from history reviews is that the writer got it all wrong about X. Who is right though?
Sep. 16th, 2016 07:51 pm (UTC)
Your book review policy sounds good! Reviewers, even when they try, are terrible about not spoilering you anyway. I mean, it's hard not to when you're doing an in-depth one without resorting to mime or something instead.
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )


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