I’m getting better about reviewing books, especially since I’m trying my hand at reviewing comics more frequently. I never minded doing book reports in school. I think the combined concern that my opinion is of little consequence and that reviews are of deep importance to the authors and lives of books makes it hard for me to do them. Books take a lot of hard work to create, and I want to do them justice in my reading and reviewing of them.
I’m even less willing to publicly review a book that’s been written by a friend of mine. I’m even a little frightened to admit that I’ve read a friend’s book, let alone review it. Even though we know we have to separate our egos from the finished work, and even though we know that the reviews are not reflections of our selves, it can still be hard as a writer to read a negative review. (Or even a milquetoast review.) Because I know how much this would affect me as a writer, I’m sensitive to how it might impact my friends.
Having said all of the above, I’ve agreed to review The Last Prospector for my friend Cairn as part of her blog tour. It’s scheduled to go live on February 6th – the tour stop with my name on it. While I’ve written it and scheduled it, I’m ruminating on how hard it is to be objective in this very subjective process.
The act of reading a written work takes the book out of the author’s mind and heart and embeds it in the reader’s. The reader then owns whatever ideas, emotions and concepts they’ve taken away from the piece. The reader’s review of the work is about their own version of the book – the one in their head. And it is filtered through everything they experience, understand or believe on it’s way through.
This shines a light on the subjectivity of all art and all steps in the process of creating art and then putting it out there for other people to see or hear or read.
As a writer, it’s terrifying. But that’s what the title of this blog post is about. As a writer, I have to separate my ego from the book once it’s out there. I’m passing it along to be filtered and taken over by other people’s perceptions. As a reviewer, I need to understand that that filter and those perceptions are mine, that the author has handed the book to me in this same way.
I try to be a gentle reader. I can only hope others do the same for me.