Thursday, August 6, 2009

What's In a Review?

I read a review yesterday of Jennifer Weiner's latest, Best Friends Forever that left me questioning my take on the book. I read the book a few weeks ago and, while I wouldn't say it changed my life, I thought it was enjoyable. But, after reading this review that said it was a bad book I thought, "What did I miss? Maybe it wasn't very good." Then, as I was driving to work today, I heard a review on NPR of the same book. The book critic there reported that the only bad thing about the book was the title (which is, I've gotta admit, a little cheesy. Do you really want to give a book a title that conjures images of Paris Hilton, Nicole Ritchie, and the girls of The Hills?). Suddenly, simply because one reviewer liked it (and, to be honest, it helped that it was NPR), I felt better about having liked the book...until I realized just how fickle I am.

I'll be honest, there are a lot of classics and best-sellers that I simply don't get the allure of. I'm not naming names, but there have been times I've read books that have received critical accolades and awards and could only think, "huh...yeah...I don't see it." But I'm always a little afraid to admit that -- what if I'm the only one who can't see how great the emperor's new prose really is? My own fickle reaction to the reviews of one book made me stop and think that maybe I shouldn't pay so much attention to what other people who are in the know think about the books. If I like it, I like it. If I don't, well...I might not talk about it, just in case you saw the brilliance that I missed.

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