Sunday, July 17, 2011

Book Rambling: Books You Just Can't Review

Have you ever had a book you just can't review properly?

I don't mean books you can't read or finish, but a book that you just can't review, or can't review properly, even though you love reading it. There are a gazillion reasons for it to happen too. Perhaps it's book number ten or so in the series? Or, maybe it's a favourite book, one you've read too many times to count but never get tired of? This is what's happening for me now. I'm re-reading the Lord of the Rings, slowly (currently just started The Shadow of the Past, in The Fellowship of the Ring). Sometimes I just get a book which I've enjoyed reading, but I'm having trouble articulating just why I liked it.

So, what do you do with books like these? Struggle on and review them anyway? Or, do you make a note that the book was read, and not reviewed?

I'm rather curious.


Holly said...

I've run into that problem before. I review everything I read so if I'm having trouble I just wait awhile before I do the review. When its been a week or two and I'm not overwhelmed by it still then I can write a review based on what still stands out to me at that time.

Elena said...

That's a working approach that I use sometimes too Holly. It can have drawbacks too though - namely when you start forgetting the details of the book. :)

I try to review everything I read. It doesn't always work out though.

Thanks for commenting.

redhead said...

great discussion topic! I too try to review everything I read, and I've found China Mieville and Catherynne Valente the hardest to review recently. I find their writing beautiful, sublime, incredible, mind blowing, all those wonderful things I've been looking for.

but how to write the review? If i only focus on the story, it'll be 1200 words before I get to the good stuff. if I focus on the good stuff (which usually has nothing to do with the plot), i don't give anyone any idea what the heck the book is about. tough to review!

that and series! especially graphic novel series. who wants to read (or write) a review of just volume 10?

Elena said...

Thanks for commenting, redhead. That's definitely one of the problems. When it comes to a series, I tend to find myself reviewing the series, rather than the specific book, despite my best intentions. Especially as the series gets longer (David Weber's Honor Harrington books come to mind as an example).

J.G. said...

Great question!

When I get reviewer's block, I tell myself that a lousy review is better than no review at all. No way am I going to write the definitive review of LOTR (for example!), so it's best not to even try.

Focusing on a single detail or theme helps me get some traction, and I try to write like I'm giving a friend the quick scoop. Once I get started, I usually feel better about writing it. And if it turns out lousy indeed, I try not to worry about it too much!

Elena said...

That's a couple of helpful tips right there, J.G. Thanks. I'll try and keep them in mind when I run into problems.


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