This is, as the title states, part 3 of this discussion. If you haven’t kept up, please see part 1 and part 2 before reading this installment. This part consists of a review of the bloggers’ side, focusing on one person’s post, and my overall conclusions.
Ready? Here we go!
- 1. Trish states that book reviews on blogs are given as much respect as book reviews in newspapers, citing the myriad of authors and publishers sending ARCs to book bloggers these days.
2. “Blogging is inherently informal.”
3. Book blog reviews are written in a conversational style, “like I’m chatting with a friend.”
4. The point of blogging is to be self-indulgent.
My response: To point one of the internet advocate: Yep. Apparently many book publicists find value in the work of book bloggers in promoting their books. To point two: Again, yep. For the most part, blogging is informal, and I don’t necessarily have a problem with that. Some blogs are more professional than others.
On point three: A conversational style isn’t all bad. It isn’t all good, either. There are pros and cons to both conversational, informal writing and professional, formal writing. Books are often discussed in both voices. It seems the Unites States (maybe the world is?) are becoming more informal. Even newspapers are becoming more informal. Isn’t the fact that such formal stanchions as the book review sections of newspapers are dying some evidence of this? This is the way of the world. It’s not all bad. Why fight it?
Point four: Here is where I take issue with Trish and the book blogging community that is up in arms about Warren’s critique.
Blogging is the place that I can say, I can do what I want when I want to and I can make it look however I want. If I want to say like or alls or dude or WHATEVER, I can. More importantly, the reason I read bloggers’ book reviews is because I don’t want some pompous ass talking about things like What’s the book’s place in the canon.
I know blogs exist that stand on this platform of I Can Do Whatever I Want. I don’t read them. It’s Ethics 101 that to be an upstanding member of any society, one’s freedom stops where another person’s begins. It’s smart to waiting before pushing the Publish button if you’ve written in anger. Sure, we have freedom of speech, but I also have freedom to not intentionally hurt other people. Mrs. Chili wrote a nice post about this recently. Maybe the freedom Trish was thinking of wouldn’t be painful to others, but it’s a slippery slope.
I’ll be the first to say, I don’t consider this blog a book blog, exactly. My reviews are skimpy and can hardly be called full reviews. I started, this year, to catalog each book I read here in part just for personal reference; I’ve started a list each year, intending to write down each book I read for a full year, but the list is always abandoned by about February. This blogging plan is working much better for me — it’s August and I haven’t messed it up yet.
However, I have been thinking about improving my reviews here — beefing them up and making them more meaningful. I still struggle with how much I can say without giving something away, though. I haven’t taken Book Reviewing 101 like Warren suggests.
I’ll end on this note: I’m not sure what newspaper book reviews have done to sustain books; I’m not sure they exactly need saving, even. A point from Warren I think we can all agree on: “Blogs stoke public interest.” Isn’t that what the old media reviews were intended to do?
Whew! Made it through. Your thoughts?