I'm also quite sure he didn't expect the Twitter firestorm this statement would produce as book bloggers and authors quickly squared off into their respective corners for the boxing match of the weekend. In a surprising twist, many bloggers disagreed with Haig. They took umbrage with statements such as,
So why did so many people disagree?
Well, it seems that many people took Haig's comments personally and noted that they themselves do not write negative reviews. Ever. And they most certainly did not like Haig's insinuation that they might be doing the book review world a disservice with their constant flow of 5-star review books. And here's the thing: some
good interesting points made. Many people felt that negative reviews written by book bloggers are always going to be unprofessional, unproductive, and ultimately hurtful.
A quick glance through GoodReads affirms that many negative reviews can be brutal. But it begs the question, just who are reviews written for? The author or potential readers? There is no doubt in my mind that book reviews are written for potential readers. They are not for authors. In fact, experienced and seasoned authors know to stay far away from reviews of their books. Or at least to steel themselves against them. Even Haig, I'm sure, remembers the angst of reading the Amazon reviews of his book The Radley's being negatively compared to the Twilight novels, an experience that can't have been pleasant.
But Haig's argument's for critical reviews are far more compelling than any hurt feelings caused by snarky reviews. Chiefly, he calls for conversation. That, after all, is what books are meant to do: create thought and engage us in conversation. And that cannot happen if every book is being fawned over as the "perfect read." Nevermind that it is statistically impossible for every single book a person reads and reviews to be a five-star experience...it disengages any conversation, one of the prime purposes books exist.
The line between a pro-bono public relations agent for publishers/authors who have given bloggers free books and an advocate for a beloved hobby is sometimes razor thin and easily blurred. Many times it's difficult to see what side of the line we are currently on and as bloggers, it's not uncommon to find ourselves on different sides of it at different times over the years as our experiences change our opinions. What is necessary, however, is to stop and evaluate ourselves every once in a while. Take a look at our recent reviews. Is there a trend? If so, is it a good one or not?
And while most bloggers are pretty good at self-policing, admittedly, I am not. So I task all of you with watching me like a hawk. All of my book reviews can be found just there to your right on the Goodreads sidebar. Keep an eye on them, will you? If you start noticing too many one-star or five-star trends, CALL. ME. OUT.
Read on, people. Read on.....