I adopted this philosophy for life. Though in the company of very close friends I do away with it, as I am guaranteed their silence by their proximity to me.
When I started doing book reviews I tweaked mom’s teaching. I thought it would be cheating my readers if I highlighted only the good points in a book. I had a responsibility to my readers. Based on my review they would decide either to read a book or not. Some reviewers derive a sadistic pleasure in trashing books, others praise it so much that one wonders about the authenticity of their viewpoint. Seldom does a book get similar reviews from many reviewers.
Several months back, I was shocked to read a reputed blogger trashing a book by a young writer, saying she was glad he was not planning to write any more books. Another person who had me gasping with shock was a reviewer who wrote for an English daily “This is a book written by a moron with a plot that is by and large missing. Was the editor of
’s leading publishing house
sleeping when this book was commissioned?” India
Another critic refused to review a book with the excuse that he didn’t consider it worthy of his time and effort. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. We all are guided by our tastes, and it’s not necessary that everyone will like each and every book that hits the stands.
It was then that I decided to adopt the middle path when I do book reviews. I talk about both the good and the bad points of a story (not that I am an expert). But I restrict my comments to the book and the story, never venturing into author/writer territory. I had reviewed a book ( for the newspaper I write for ) that frankly speaking I had not liked much. For starters, the author’s lack of interest showed. The ending was too abrupt, the character was a cardboard cut out. The scenes did not flow into each other. The plot had not been developed fully. The periphery characters just hovered on the fringes. What the book badly needed was several rewrites ( I later came to know that the book was self- published, hence the lack of editorial feedback, which is extremely crucial, was missing.)
But rather than trashing the book I highlighted its good points. If we look deep there is always something nice about everything. When I reviewed the book I stressed on the things I had liked about the book: its theme, the way complicated topics were explained to a kid in a simple and effective way and the crisp language, I winded up the review with what I found missing. As I had started the review highlighting the good points, the shortcomings did not sting the writer. She appreciated my review and thanked me.
What would you have done in my place? Would you have trashed the book? Would you have harped about its shortcomings or trekked the middle path? Did I do the right thing? What should I have done? Please help me out.