Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Disagree with me, but don't tell me I'm wrong. #bookreviews #amreading

I review books on this blog, and when I do that I also post my reviews on Goodreads and an Amazon because posted reviews are helpful to authors (especially independent authors) even if you don't like their work.

So recently I posted a review here - and on Amazon - and my review clearly stated that my opinion was the opposite of many of the others I had seen to date. In fact, the book in question had over 2500 reviews already on Amazon and most of them don't like the book. I liked it.

Now I'm all for discussing different view points on books - even with strangers - and I often do with my friends. Some books they love and I don't. Some books I love and they don't. Some books we all love or hate. I think (barring really poor writing skills) much of how we feel about a book depends on our life's experiences and where we are in our own lives at the time we read the book.

What happened when I posted my review on Amazon though, was something different altogether. I found it really odd that right after I posted my review - again on a book that already had over 2500 other reviews - I was almost immediately notified that someone had commented on my review. I'm a curious person so I checked it out. In retrospect I get the feeling this person may have been waiting for positive reviews to go up so they could pounce on them.

The commenter basically wrote three paragraphs explaining why my review was WRONG. Not saying she/he disagreed with me - which I would have been fine with - but actually telling me I was wrong in how I felt about this book and trying to convince me to change my mind.


I politely responded that we would have to agree to disagree. 

She/he then went on again to tell me why THAT was wrong and that my review was still wrong and how if the author had submitted the book in a writing class it would have been graded an F. (Was this a frustrated writing teacher? Or perhaps a jealous wanna-be writer whose own writing received an F in class? Hmmm.)

Again, I commented about how wonderful it is that we can each have different experiences with the same work and the beauty of it all.

Then he/she got a friend to tell me I didn't understand what the first person was trying to say - which I did, all too well.

Eventually I just gave up trying to get them to agree to disagree. Neither commenter was going to change how I felt about this book and I was never going to convince either of them that it is okay to have a different opinion. 

So the moral of this story is: If you disagree with me on whether a book is good or bad or in between, that's all well and good and I'd be glad to discuss our different view points. But if you think you are going to change my mind about how I feel about a book - don't even bother to try. It's just going to make me angry and I'm going to think you are a bully. Capiche?

And how was YOUR day? ;)

Have you read anything lately where you disagreed with the majority of reviewers? What did you love/hate that everyone else didn't?


13 comments:

  1. Agree!

    Since when does one person's opinion set the standard. I find it very sad that just because a reader doesn't like a book that they call everyone else a liar. They wouldn't do that to someone's face, so why is it okay on Amazon, GR, and book blogs?

    There is nothing wrong with having a different opinion from everyone else, but it's just that...their opinion.

    Thank you for writing reviews, and thank you for pointing out this poor practice. Personally, I think book reviews should be about the book and nothing else. If you don't like it, say so and go your own way. Why attempt to demoralize anyone else because they disagree with you?

    If a reviewer states that all the *good* reviews before their *poor* review were solicited, aren't they calling all those other people liars? I've never solicited reviews, but I get a lot of them. I sell a lot of books, and sadly, unhappy reviewers love to attack. Me...if I don't like a book, I stop reading it. And I would never thing to attack a reader because they like or don't like a book.

    My best friend loved 50SOG; I refuse to read it. My avid-reading cousin--we swap books back and forth--loved Gone With the Wind, but I can't get through the first few chapters. My avid-reading aunt insisted I read Angela's Ashes--I threw the book across the room halfway through it. LOL! I don't like reading about children dying, but that doesn't mean that other people won't like it. It was a major bestseller. I don't call them liars because we disagree. I enjoy talking with them about books, and we agree on many books. And it's not even that those books weren't good; they just weren't good for me. That's my opinion. :)

    Thank you for this post. I clicked approve to send to all my networks throughout the day.

    Carmen DeSousa

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    1. I too have refused to read 50SOG in spite of many friends who have loved it. My husband even read it. But I don't tell them they can't like it. To each their own. I did read Angela's Ashes and yes, it was quite depressing. Thank you for sharing this Carmen, and for expressing your opinion.

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    2. LOL! Your husband read 50SOG. That's actually kind of cool. I just have no desire. My pleasure to share. I'm always happy when someone else says this stuff, as it's harder for me. :)

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    3. He actually read all three of them. Lol. And he's not much of a reader, but like you I have had no desire to read them at all. C'est la vie. :)

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  2. Well said! I've had similar experiences.These people aren't arguing about facts, they're arguing opinions. An opinion cannot be wrong. Yet, they insist their opinion is the only right opinion a person could possibly have. It's futile to even attempt to debate with such narrow minds.

    You summed it up perfectly: "I think (barring really poor writing skills) much of how we feel about a book depends on our life's experiences and where we are in our own lives at the time we read the book."

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    1. It is frustrating, isn't it Darcia? You are right - an opinion can't be wrong. I have a friend who gets hammered any time she posts a review on Goodreads and I find that so incredibly awful. I never would have dreamed people would be mean about something so innocuous. Thanks for your comment.

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  3. This review thing has really gotten out of hand. I have never been a "book reviewer". I'm just someone that periodically reviews something I have read, seen, used, or whatever. However, I think it is ridiculous that people are not allowed to have their own opinion about what they read or whatever. Frankly, it's sick!

    Somehow, certain full-time reviewers and promoters have decided they own the world, and have the right to attack others for having an opinion that differs from theirs. I couldn't care less about what people think about my opinion, and I have no problem telling them that fact. However, I enjoy having a difference-of-opinion conversation with someone who has a little class and is willing to "hear" someone else's opinion. We may never agree with each other, but hopefully, we will learn something from one another.

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    1. I don't know what has happened to the book industry lately - but I think it is only a small minority misbehaving. They just happen to be loud about it. If enough of us call them out on it maybe, just maybe, we can change things. You are a dear and I learn from you all the time. :)

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  4. I adore you, and ya! I am tired of this happening. Since when can't we state how we feel! I commend you!

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    1. Thank you my lovely. I know you've had issues with this as well. And right back at ya! ;)

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  5. Wow, that's nuts. People have to understand that they can't convince others to feel one way about something. You can debate the merits of individual specific things:was the story arc complete? did the author offer well-developed character? did the author do a good job of scene setting? And even still, those are all things to debate, offering reasons for or against. You'd have a hard time saying a person was "wrong" on any of those. Grammar is more clear cut usually (though I read an article saying some Americans believe British/Canadian spellings [like neighbour, rather than neighbor] are wrong; so even that isn't black-and-white, if one person simply isn't aware of different English spellings].

    It was good of you to respond politely to such haranguing.

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    1. Well I'm screwed if they think that British/Canadian spellings are wrong, because my books are written in Australian English which has similar spelling rules. I chose to do that with Lifeboat because it is partially set in Australia. Not sure why I did it with The Beacon and I actually did debate doing so. Since I am technically American even though I reside in Australia I could have gone either way. I like to think that maybe exposure to different ways of doing things will open some eyes. Thanks for the comment RJ.

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