Meme-ful Musings: Critiqued for Your Reading Choices

memefulmoments
Meme-ful Musings: At the end of the month I’ll post a book-related meme that I think brings up an interesting discussion about books. Feel free to join in by making a comment below or linking back!


book

(Meme from: https://www.pinterest.com/MSLibraryComm/302232-book-memes/)

I honestly just love this meme because I think it describes my reading habits perfectly! There are books that I will immediately put at the top of my To-Read Pile despite the many books that have been sitting there for years. But there are also books that I would never admit to reading and/or liking to my friends–but I’ll admit to them here (on my blog) because of the power of the anonymous internet.

Three examples that come to mind: Twilight, Fifty Shades of Grey and the Sweet Series by Maya Banks. I’ll start with Twilight.

I actually really liked Twilight: I actually liked it so much that I immediately reread it after finishing it the first time! Now when I tell people this, I list a few excuses about why I felt this way. Those reasons are:

  • I was 15 when I read it–the target demographic for the series
    • If I read it now, as a woman in her 20s, I probably wouldn’t feel that way
  • it was the first paranormal “teen” romance novel I read
    • by this point my reading habits weren’t what they were today so exposure was limited
  • the writing never bothered me
    • I liked that it was an easy to follow story plus I was no literary critic (still aren’t)

It’s just as easy to come up with these excuses for Fifty Shades of Grey (if you strip *no pun intended* all the BDSM away, at its bones, it is a love story and the later books do get a plot line) and the Sweet Series (this series was just kinky BDSM that I was probably way to young to read when I did; do this day I don’t have them rated on my Goodreads account).

But my question is why do I feel the need to justify why I enjoyed a book a vast majority of people label as “garbage”? Why do I worry about getting judged for reading and enjoying something that interests me that others seem to detest?

I want to be clear that I am not talking about disliking a book that others have given 5 stars to: I’m talking about feeling embarrassed for reading a book and liking it. Two different things, though I agree that they can often go hand in hand.

The simple answer is of course to blame it on society. We live in a society where we are self-conscious of what other people think of us. Especially if you live in a democratic society like I do, you are raised with the thought process that what the majority thinks is best for the population or common good is probably that choice that is made at the end of the day.

Critics are basically using a set of standards that have been created by a larger group of people to criticize works. I always find it fascinating to learn how literature canons are created because who gets to decide what pieces of work are the greatest and why it is the greatest? Even the definition of “literature” is heavily debated on.

I guess the point I am trying to make is that reviews and opinions are subjective. There is a quote from Family Guy (judge away) that I think really emphasizes this point:

“This is life, the one you get so go and have a ball, because the world don’t move, to the beat of just one drum. What might be right for you, may not be right for some. You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have my opening statement”

So why should I be influenced to feel a certain way about a book just because one person says I should?

I suppose it is a little hypocritical of me to “bash” reviewers when I myself have a book reviewing blog. But the underlying purpose of creating this blog entry is to point out that it is OK to like books others dislike! Just because one reviewer writes an extremely negative review about your favourite book doesn’t mean you should second guess why you like that book, or not admit that you like it! Everyone has different tastes and personal pet peeves that can influence why you rate a book like you do and it is A-OK to disagree!

That’s why when I write my book reviews, I try to present both sides of the story. If I don’t like a book, I explain why but I also mention who I think would like this book and vice versa. Just because I don’t like it, doesn’t mean you won’t; and the same can be said about your reviews and me. Reading is a subjective experience and at the end of the day it comes down to how that book makes you feel and why it makes you feel that way. Don’t ever be embarrassed by what you read and embrace your tastes! Don’t be afraid to share them with the world!

So, do you admit to reading/liking the books that you read?

Do you feel the need to justify why you liked a book that is panned by critics or your friends?

Do you take into consideration who might like/dislike a book when you review it?

Do you think blogging/the internet has influenced how people perceive certain books?

PS: Check out Nerdybirdy @ Daydreaming Books’ discussion on Book Bashing as well!

Leave a comment below!

Comments 12

  • I TOTALLY, ABSOLUTELY AGREE WITH YOU HERE!!

    I think reviews really do influence people, because when a book has too many bad reviews, like for me, even if I wanted to read that book earlier, I re-think my decesion. But not every book can be liked by everybody. Similarly like you I read Twilight at 15 as well, and I fell in love with it and I’ve re-read it many times. So when this happens, of course there’s this voice in my head which is afraid of judgement but nonetheless why should I deny a book that I had liked it, so I state my reasons for it.

    • You’re right about the rethinking! Sometimes when I read other people’s reviews and go to comment on them, I second guess my own thoughts! I often have to reread my own reviews to make sure I don’t unconsciously conform to the poster’s review (especially if they don’t like a book I loved).

      Same goes for the reviews influencing potential TBR books. If I’m on the fence about a book, I try to read multiple reviews; a mix of positive and negative before I make a “final” decision (though “never say never”!). That’s definitely the point of reviews: I just don’t like reviews that make people feel bad for liking something they themselves detested.

      • I totally get your point.

        I try to do the same as well before deciding I want to read that book or not, but sometimes you have to agree a little that people get swayed by reviews and they don’t read the book which they might have actuall liked and enjoyed.

      • Oh for sure! I’m sure there are a ton of books that I’ve marked as pass that I would have actually enjoyed. I actually have a tag on my Goodreads account for books that I initially marked as a pass and then reconsidered and wanted to read after seeing someone’s positive review!

  • I just re-read Twilight for the first time in years and debated on whether or not to include it on a wrap-up post that I scheduled for later this week. I finally decided to keep it. I agree with your reasons above, though I was in my 20s when I read it for the first time. That series got me back into reading after a long time. The last time I tried to re-read it I just couldn’t make it through, but this time it was kind of enjoyable to me. It still has all the flaws that everyone mentions, but quite honestly, it really isn’t a lot worse than a lot of other YA books out there right now.

    • I totally understand your dilemma about whether or not to post it! I had the same issue with posting Fifty Shades when I first started my blog.

      But I love that you bring up a great point: a book that other’s consider to be “serious flawed” got you back into reading! I personally am of the philosophy that I care more about how a book makes me feel/react than the writing calibre. Is Twilight the greatest novel ever written? Of course not, but it made people react (whether positively or negatively) and that to me is one of the greatest things about literature!

      And your totally right: it really isn’t any worse than a lot of the YA that is currently out there! I think it gets a lot of flack because it was so popular so you get people who really wouldn’t enjoy reading it, picking it up anyways and hating every minute of it then posting their dislike. It goes back to what NERDYBIRDY @ DAYDREAMING BOOKS was saying: reviews influence people’s desire to pick up a book or not!

  • EXACTLY! I don’t tend to have a lot of unpopular opinions when it comes to books but when I do I hate being the black sheep, which is kind of dumb. And I agree, opinions and reviews should be subjective and it’s totally okay if readers have diverging thoughts. Maybe our minds function in a way where we feel more comfortable when we conform, I don’t know. And I really liked the breakdown of why you liked books the book society has deemed “garbage.” Your reasoning for Twilight is the same as mine. Absolutely love this discussion post, Lauren!

    • Thanks Summer!
      I think we instinctively have a “safety in numbers” mentality. I also think we fear backlash sometimes because there are definitely some not-so-nice people on the Internet who hide behind anonymity and they can be scary and hurtful. For the most part, I’ve never seen these people within the blogosphere but I’m sure those people are out there!

  • I totally get what you mean about twilight. I was about 12 when I picked them up and I loved them, and to this day I have a fondness for them that I think even other YA book bloggers may not understand. In general though I think YA still has a stigma attached to it of not being “literary” enough and people are ashamed to admit they read the genre as a whole, which is so sad!

    • I totally agree about the stigma! I also think there is a stigma about the age of people who read YA–and I know that is a huge debate as well. I think it is a silly debate personally. I don’t care who you are or how old you are: if you enjoy a story that’s all that matters! It definitely makes it easier to enjoy a novel and/or relate to the characters if you are the target demographic but a story is a story and you should never be ashamed for enjoying it.

      I too have a slight fondness for Twilight. Never before had a series both captivated and infuriated me simultaneously as I read it. I think it just goes to show a book doesn’t need to be a “literary masterpiece” to evoke a variety of emotions in its readers.

  • I’m pretty open about what I read and happy to tell my friends anything I’m reading. The only time I’m secretive about reading something lighter or sexier is when I’m at work and don’t feel it’s appropriate.

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