Bad Reviews Not Allowed?

I came across something on Twitter recently. A prominent author said that if you are going to tweet something negative about an author’s work, do not @ them. I thought this was a bit silly, but I know for any celebrity any thread can turn into absurdity really fast, and ultimately have nothing to do with the work. So, okay.

But then the author referenced negative reviews in general. She said negative reviews should never be written unless the work is causing real harm. And many prominent authors and critics were in agreement.

I find this troubling. We criticize the work of politicians. We criticize the work of artists. We criticize the work of athletes. We criticize the work of everyday people we work with. As humans we criticize EVERYTHING. Is the criticism always fair? No. But how does it make sense to say negative book reviews should never be written?

I understand if she’s saying as a prominent author, she won’t write something negative about another book because of her status in the publishing world. But I vehemently disagree with the notion that no one should write negative book reviews.

There are people who have very little disposable income who love books. And I know many of them use reviews to determine what to spend their money on. If we live in a world full of 5 star reviews, then there’s no point in writing reviews at all.

I still have my booktube channel, though I haven’t posted in a really long time, and I’ve been completely honest when discussing books I’ve enjoyed and books I’ve hated. Why in the world would an author encourage anything different?

I don’t understand the logic and I will continue to be honest about what I read.

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Amazon’s 100 Books Everyone Should Read: Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat

Oh, look at me finishing two books in quick succession.

I’m just going to dive right into the post. SPOILERS AHEAD.

The story follows Sophie. A Haitian girl being raised by her aunt at the age of 12 when her mother sends for her from New York. You follow her to New York to marrying to returning home to the tragedy of her mother’s suicide.

I’ve owned this book a couple of years now and knew absolutely nothing about it. I didn’t know the author. I didn’t know the premise. I didn’t know the themes. The story blew me away from page one. Haiti is arguably the poorest country in the western hemisphere, and you know it immediately. But as soon as you wrap your head around Sophie’s surroundings they completely change as she heads to New York to be reunited with her mother she doesn’t know. She soon realizes how difficult her mother’s life really is. This is important because of the conversations people are having TODAY. So many people in America want to paint immigrants as criminals, worthless, and illegal. But so much more often than not, they’re just like Sophie’s mother. Working multiple jobs and supporting family back home.

But the book isn’t only about being an immigrant and trying to find where we belong. Sophie suffers from bulimia and sex phobia, as it’s described in the book, and her mother suffers from severe mental illness, ultimately leading to her suicide. Sophie seeks help in multiple ways. I’m not going to say I suffer from anything, but I know how it feels to be entirely unhappy with every aspect of life, and to feel like no one is coming through that door to help.

Those are the two things I’ve taken from this book. That we should look at immigrants just as we would anyone else, and that we all have the ability to free ourselves from things we can and cannot control. Sophie begins the story as a struggling girl and ends it as a struggling woman. It’s okay to struggle. And it’s okay to seek help when you need it.

An absolute gem of a book.

A Look Into an American Nightmare: Dave Cullen’s “Columbine”

I’ve been absent from here, but I’m finally ready to get back to what makes this blog what it is: BOOKS.

I’ve owned this book for a couple of years. I first started it a few months back, and finally got around to finishing it last night. What follows is my review.

So often after mass shootings we hear about “politicizing” the issue. There’s nothing political anout this book, just as there’s really nothing political about combatting gun violence. It would have been easy for this book to delve into the common topics that persist after every shooting, but it did no such thing.

Dave Cullen takes you into the minds and private lives of these two muderers. He chronicles in minute detail the days, weeks, and months leading up to April 20, 1999. He details how these two kids went from fantasizing about murder to committing a massacre. He takes you into the lives of several parties after the killing had finally stopped. Parents, students, educators, law enforcement. No life is the same after such an event, and he makes it crystal clear.

There’s a part near the end of the book in which he describes how “Columbine” had become the name of a mass shooting rather than a high school, but over the years seems to have reverted back to just the name of a high school in Colorado. I’m not sure if a community can ever really love on from something like this, but based on the book this one seems to constantly try.

An phenomenal story about an unspeakable act.

Welp.

I didn’t post in September. Lots of things contributed to this. 1) Work. After missing almost two weeks after Harvey, I finally made it back into the office. 2) Change in schedule. Right when I was still unable to reach the office I received word that I’d been selected to assist in new hire training. Which immediately made my schedule M-F. No, that’s not typical. 3) Prepping. Prepping for what, I see you asking. My move. I’m moving into my first solo apartment on October 21. I’m excited. But I’ve been buying all kinds of things (most notably, furniture) throughout the last month. Today I packed all of my books. I won’t be seeing them for a month.

I’ll get back to posting. My apartment is only ten minutes from my job. Which gives me additional hours every month I haven’t had.

Also, I’m late to the party but I’ve been binge watching Friends. I’m through the first two seasons.

Is It Really All About Money?

I’ve read this week about two lawsuits currently pending. They both concern the work of authors who have died. And in both cases it’s one part of the family suing another part.

One of the lawsuits concerns the work of John Steinbeck. The other is about Tom Clancy.

What happened to preserving the legacy of authors once they die? So many times lawsuits are filed almost immediately upon the death of an author. I guess this is no different from other types of celebrities who leave their families to fight over large estates. But it’s still a bit disappointing.

I think Robert B. Parker did it best. He left his series in the hands of other authors he knew. Though I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to read a Spenser or Jesse Stone novel written by another author, at least there was no fight when Parker died unexpectedly.

Do you think it immediately becomes all about the money involved once an author dies?

Thirteen Reasons Why: A Comparison

Earlier this year I happened upon the adaptation of this book on Netflix. I was just minding my business scrolling through the menu and happened to see it as a new release. I knew nothing about it. But I recall it being an early Saturday afternoon and I was doing nothing. One episode wouldn’t hurt. I watched. Again. Again. And again. Until I’d managed to get through the entire season the following evening.

Soon thereafter I bought the book. I made it halfway through and then simply stopped. It wasn’t because I was not interested or it was poorly written, I just have these periods almost every year.

I finished it last night.

I’d rate the show as five stars. I know some call it controversial, but I’m not part of that faction. I’m of the opinion that we need to have a conversation about the topics discussed in the book. All of them. But we aren’t. Not until it’s too late and tragedy has struck. The show began one of those conversations.

But this is one of those extremely rare cases in which the adaptation is better than the original. At least in my opinion. Clay Jenson comes off as accusatory throughout the book. He almost appears to blame Hannah for everything that’s led her to make her final choice. The book also focuses entirely on Clay’s perspective, whereas I think the show gives a bit more from the other involved characters.

I won’t get into every single detail in the book I had an issue with. I still rated it three stars. The show showed us the anguish and isolation Hannah experienced. The book struggled to do the same.

The (Un)Importance of Books

Oh boy.

I love books. I love reading. Y’all know this. But I’m realizing that they’re really taking a backseat. And I’m okay with that.

I just recently hit six months with my employer. I love this company and the opportunity I have. The people are great and the atmosphere could not be more conducive to growth.

I’m completely focused on my career. For the first time I’m really looking ahead. I’m not worried about where my paycheck is coming from. I’m not worried about having to look for work. I’m focused on what I can do to reach where I want to reach.

I know some would say I can still make time for reading. 45 hours a week in the office. An additional 2 hours a day commuting. Sleep. My off days are not back to back. Gym. Girlfriend. All of that leaves little time to sit back and read. And that’s okay. Also, moving in two months. So there’s that, as well.