I was tidying up a few old posts recently, and uncovered dozens of book reviews from as early as 2015, when this blog was born!
It’s funny how much my book reviews have changed over the years.
When I first started this blog, I was studying for an English degree. You can seriously tell. I was reading with a very analytic mind, and even more than that – I was reading books I wasn’t even particularly enjoying! I remember that being the hardest part of studying English, having to spend time with writing that didn’t inspire me.
It did, however, push me out of my comfort zone. I don’t think I would have read things like Coram Boy or Othello, if it wasn’t written into the curriculum. I think reading books that weren’t necessarily *my thing* made me appreciate other aspects of them – the historical context, or the use of language.
Nowadays, I read whatever I fancy. I know some people are strict on themselves and never leave a book unfinished, but I’m not like that even slightly anymore. If I’m not feeling it, I let it go. My did-not-finish shelf is enormous, and I’m totally all right with that. I think you should always read for pleasure, and frankly that means consuming what brings you joy. I’m sure Marie Kondo would agree with me.
That brings me to another way my reviews have changed… for the most part, I only rate 4 or 5 star books these days. This is primarily because I’ll only finish a book if I’m enjoying it, and if I’m enjoying it then it’ll rarely drop below a 3 or 4 star rating. So, it might look like I’m a softer reviewer these days, but really I’m just reading within the genres I know I like. Perhaps that makes me a safe reader, who knows!
And yes, I’m pretty sure I am a softer reviewer. Now there are years between writing academic critiques on books and my current reading habits, I’m very much of the mind that anyone who gets a book published is some kind of superstar. Because writing a book isn’t easy, and getting it publisher is even harder. It doesn’t mean I’ll like the book, but it still makes me want to give an A for effort!
Do you read to the end of books you aren’t enjoying? How harshly do you critique the books you read?