…. she discovered them when she was very, very small, and as he grew up she found more and more to love.
There were so many worlds in explore, in the past, in the present, and in the future. There were so many fascinating people to meet; real peple and fictional people. There were stories, there were adventures, there was so much to learn.
And it was lovely to step out of the real world sometimes.
She knew that lots of other people liked books, but, maybe because she came from a very small town, she didn’t know anyone who loved a lot of the books she loved. It was lovely to be able to talk to them, to recommend books, and to dicover so many new books, new publishers, new possibilities …
One of those possibilities was a book blog. She started writing about books and bookish things on a blog of her very own. And in time she found more places to write her book thoughts. Just to celebrate the books and tell more people about them. Because some people don’t use LibraryThing, or read book blogs.
There were some ups and downs, but for a very long time everything went swimmingly.
But one day – a day when life had left her at a rather low ebb – a nasty comment hit her very hard. A comment that said that she had mislead the writer over many books and authors. It wasn’t on Librarything, it wasn’t on her blog, it was somewhere else. And when she replied that maybe she and the writer had different tastes, that maybe the writer should look elsewhere for recommendations, things escalated.
She retreated into her shell for a little while. She realised that maybe she was being rather sensitive, but she had been shy and sensitive all her life. There are worse failings. And that uncomfortable dialogue hit particular nerves.
One of the things that disappoints her most in life is when they people won’t accept that others can have different tastes, different values, different views of the world, and it doesn’t have to mean that somebody is right and somebody is wrong. Sometimes there is no right and wrong.Some things are subjective. That’s just not about books, it’s about all kinds of things in life.
The other thing that upset her was the allegation that she had a particular agenda when she wrote about books. Because she didn’t. And when she picked herself up again she realised that she had to do something she had always resisted. She had to write a statement of principle, a policy if you like. And here is what she wrote.
I am a reader, and I don’t consider myself a critic or a reviewer. I respond to books emotionally and I try to explain that reaction as honestly and fairly as I can.
Most books come from my own shelves or from the library, and some come from publishers, authors or publicists. But it doesn’t matter where a book comes from, they are all treated the same.
I know that a book that I can’t warm to isn’t necessarily a bad book. It might be the perfect book for somebody with different experiences, for someone at a different point in life, for someone who is looking for something different in a book. And I know that because I can see how much my own tastes have changed over time.
I try to be sensitive to the feelings of authors, and others with an emotional investment in a particular book. That doesn’t mean I won’t be critical, but I will always try to be fair and constructive.
If I’m not getting on with a book I’ll usually put it to one side or give up on it completely. So you won’t find many negative reports, just the occasional one, where I’ve enjoyed an author’s books in the past, or when a book has been particularly recommended. Because there are too many great books out there to be read and re-read to spend too much time with books that disappoint.
I do this to celebrate the joy of reading, and to share that with other readers. No more and no less.
She almost decided to give up writing about books. That might sound feeble, but her life was busy and complicated, and books and writing about books were meant to be an escape from difficult, troublesome things. She decided in the end though that she couldn’t give up, that she would miss it far too much. Not just the writing, the reading what other people had to say about books too. And then the voice that told her what to write about books, the voice that had disappeared for a while, came back into her head.
She realised that the answer was to focus on her blog and her own corner of the bookish world, and to let some of the other things go.
It’s quite possible that she will do things a little differently in the future, but she will definitely be back …