Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Book Reviews: O, the Humanity!


About book reviews:  Authors need reviews. We want reviews. And of course we want readers to love our books and post glowing reviews.

The author of a memoir I really enjoyed asked me to post my review on a site where his book had been subjected to some tough criticism. I  smiled at one reviewer’s comment that the author of the memoir seemed “self-involved.”

    From Wikipedia: Memoir (from French: m√©moire: memoria, meaning memory or reminiscence), is a literary nonfiction genre. More specifically, it is a collection of memories that an individual writes about moments or events, both public or private that took place in the author's life.

So, to respond to the reviewer’s criticism: Yes. Memoirs tend to be self-involved. As the central theme of the memoir in question, the author described a harrowing event that had a profound effect on his life. He then analyzed decisions he made during that event, and the effect they had on the outcome. He traced the origins of those decisions, attitudes and experiences that had shaped his personality throughout the years and that directed his behavior during the crisis. Sounds self-involved to me. As one would expect in a memoir.

In the rare case that your book isn’t the best book the reader’s ever read, well, it happens.

A recent review pointed out what the reader perceived as weakness in my latest book, suggesting potential that wasn’t realized.  Gulp.  I 'd had the same concerns as I wrote the book, taking special care to strengthen and improve some of the very areas the reader noted. So---painful as it was, I’d have to say the reviewer was perceptive and her points were valid.

When a review is less than glowing, here’s a good perspective from Norman Vincent Peale:

The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism. 

Thanks, Norman. I plead guilty as charged. 

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