Bookish controversies roil the book blogosphere every so often–and many of them are actually recurring debates. Below are a few of my quick thoughts on some of the most commonly discussed subjects in the book blogosphere.
Yes, you can review a book you DNF’ed (Did Not Finish).
The fact that you thought a book was so unengaging that you could not even finish it, is a review! I see no problem with people discussing why they did not want to finish reading a book, as long as they acknowledge in the review that they did not read the entire thing.
Read Briana’s Thoughts on “Why I Think It’s Fine to Rate a Book You Did Not Finish.”
Yes, listening to audiobooks counts as reading.
I think people’s concern with what “counts” as reading stems from how reading is taught in schools–a topic I plan to address one day in a lengthier post. Teachers are indeed concerned with making sure that students can read and decode text since not everything in life is linked to audio yet, and being able to do things like read textbooks, the news, menus, bus schedules, medications and more tends to be useful when audio options are not available. But the people online who worry that listening to audiobooks is not “real reading” are not in school, have already learned how to recognize words on a page, and do not need to judge other people for “not really reading.” Listening to the audiobook is still experiencing the book! People can absorb and analyze the exact same content, through text or audio. In fact, for many, audio is a preferable option, and it’s not very kind to say that they are not doing the work of comprehension and analysis just because they’re not doing it with their eyes.
Yes, picture books, graphic novels, audiobooks, etc. count towards your GoodReads Challenge.
I think this controversy also stems from how reading is taught in schools too, since many educators are concerned about making sure students are advancing through more complex texts so they can read on grade level and be able to access texts that could be important–prescriptions, leases, student loan documents, college textbooks, etc. So teachers do encourage students to read longer books and to try reading texts without pictures since those are scenarios they may encounter one day. But…this has nothing to do with the Goodreads Challenge, which is a personal reading goal. People can count whatever they like. Books are books. It’s not a competition! No one is “cheating” by marking that they read a picture book, a novella, a comic book, or any other type of book!
I don’t really care about getting a New Adult (NA) label/section.
The age labels publishers use now generally indicate two things: that a book will likely be of interest to a certain age group and also that it is developmentally appropriate. The movement for a NA section seemed largely to be a desire for more books about single college students in their early 20s (not even the whole 20-something experience), and I feel like those types of books could just be highlighted through lists, displays, and so forth. I don’t think there needs to be a section of adult literature just for characters in their early 20s since adult fiction as a whole already includes those characters, and there’s no special developmental need for it since presumably most adults reading adult books are ready for adult books with characters of any age.
Read my longer thoughts in : “Do We Need a New Adult Section?”
I don’t think required reading in schools is evil.
I did a lot of things in school that I did not particularly enjoy, because the school system or society at large saw some benefit in it. Required reading is one of those things. It helps to have required reading (or at least a list of various titles to select from) so the instructor can lead a class discussion about the book and know how well the students are comprehending and analyzing the work. And, people have this idea that required reading is all boring and all dead white men, but required reading could actually be a way to introduce more diverse books into the classroom or engage students in discussions about current events. It does not have to be a terrible experience, but could be a way to introduce students to books they would not otherwise know about or read, or open up discussion about the issues that are important to them.
I think it’s fine to upcycle books.
Sometimes, book lovers have a tendency to view books as sacred, believing that books can never be recycled, thrown away, or removed from circulation. And so, crafts that upcycle books into decorations, ornaments, and more are seen by some as wantonly destructive. However, there are plenty of reasons that a book’s lifespan may naturally be over–damage or outdated information, for example. It makes sense to upcycle them! Additionally, there are many, many books that are still in print and hardly in danger of disappearing if someone uses a copy for art. These upcycled crafts are not using the last copy of a medieval manuscript! I don’t see books as inherently sacred, and so I do not see the trouble with using the paper to make something new.
Negative reviews are important, not mean.
I believe that negative reviews are actually necessary to ensure the integrity and usefulness of the review process. If people only generated positive reviews to be nice to authors, those reviews would no longer be perceived as honest looks at the quality of a work, but instead as mere advertising. It is important, of course, that negative reviews be done respectfully, and that they focus on what in a book or story did not work for the reader. They absolutely should not be personal attacks on the author. But there is nothing inherently mean-spirited in a person saying that they did not enjoy a book for various reasons. That is just information other readers can use to decide if they should invest time and money in a particular book–or not. Because, in the end, reviews are for readers to make informed choices–they are not really for the authors.
Read Briana’s thoughts: “Negative Reviews Aren’t ‘Mean;’ They’re Integral to Selling Books”
I don’t want to be paid to book blog, though publisher recognition would be nice.
I understand that blogging is a lot of hard work, and many bloggers would like to be recognized for that by receiving cash from publishers (or even more ARCs, at this point). However, I blog for fun, and I do not want the stress and commitment that would come from making my hobby into a job. I also think being paid would fundamentally change how I would have to blog. I would have to promo publishers’ stuff, of course, but I would probably also have to do other things like focus on generating content specifically for views, so publishers would feel justified paying me. I’d rather blog about whatever interests me and do it with no commitment to an employer. But if publishers would at least admit that book bloggers still exist, that would be nice.
Read my full thoughts on “I’m Okay With Not Being Paid to Book Blog.”
Read Briana’s musings on “Four Things That Might Happen if Book Bloggers Were Paid.”
Bookstagram is probably consumerist.
I don’t really go on Bookstagram a lot. Sometimes I take photos for Briana to post on our account. But I do get the sense that there are trends on there that promote buying a lot of books or buying fancy books to get views. Remember that time everyone had to acquire enough books to create a rainbow bookshelf behind them, complete with fairy lights? Sometimes it seems like these books are acquired just to be photographed, and not to be read. And there was even debate for awhile over whether library books were suitable for Bookstagram, meaning some bloggers at least were feeling a lot of pressure to buy books to keep up. So is Bookstagram all about consumerism? At least in some corners!
I don’t worry too much about acquiring ARCs.
There’s an idea in the book blogosphere that acquiring more ARCs will make a blog more popular, though I have never seen hard data given to support this. My own experience is that our ARC reviews get less traffic than backlist titles; people seem to prefer to read and comment on reviews of books they have already read. I also don’t see the point of chasing traffic in order to convince publishers to give me more ARCs. The reality is that book bloggers are not paid. There’s no prize for receiving the most ARCs or even getting the most traffic. So, I don’t worry about it.
What are your thoughts?