A Column by Roseanna M. White
Confessions of a Bookworm
Anyone who has read any of my reviews will notice something suspiciousĖtheyíre all positive. Oh, they might mention something I wished was different or something that bothered me, but the overall tone is usually one of endorsement. I very rarely donít recommend a book. Now, there are some reviewers out there who think there needs to be negative in every review, some whose thumbs-up is so rare that itís like winning a prize to receive it. So why, they might ask, do I mainly dish out praise, and do it so generously?
Hereís my confession: I love books. Pretty much all of them. I like classics. I like poetry. I like philosophy, science, even those dreaded math texts. I like books that make me think, and I like books that provide a relief from thinking. I like learning from non-fiction. I adore losing myself in a novel. The result is that when I pick up a book, itís with the expectation that Iím going to have a few great hours with this new friend. Iím going to get to know the characters, step into their lives, and probably come away with a new understanding of something that will enrich my life.
Itís very rare that I read a book I dislike so much that I canít write a positive review about it. Even those times I donít really care for the book, itís usually because itís just not in my preferred style or genre, but I can still recognize what it was doing and to whom it was aimed; and oddly, those occasions are usually with works of well-established authors who I know have a following that will love their latest.
Now, there are obviously degrees to my positivity, and I imagine most of you can pick up on it. When I really, really love a book, that review is going to be so glowing that youíll be looking around to see if you left a light on. On the other hand, when a book isnít my cup of tea, youíll probably find lots of phrases about who will like it without any indicator that I did. And I try to make a point of saying what audience a work will especially appeal to, so that if youíre reading my review, youíll get a good clue of whether the book is for you no matter what my opinion wasĖthough hopefully when I canít stop raving about one, youíll realize itís because itís truly fantastic.
And thereís another part to my confession: Iím a writer. So maybe I also write reviews like I would want to receive, ones that focus on the good. Maybe itís because many of the authors whose books Iím reading are colleagues whom I respect, have met and worked with, and whom I want to help grow. Maybe itís because I think reading is by far the best pastime at our disposal, and I want the whole industry to boom.
Or perhaps it has something to do with my faith, my beliefs. I think we need to take to heart Paulís command to edify each other. That doesnít mean I need to lie or overlook what I didnít like, but it does mean that I should also not neglect the good in a book. I consider this a part of my ministryĖreaching not only the readers who seek guidance toward the best of todayís writing, but also the authors who have poured so much of their souls into the work. I hope that through my reviews, my love of books can ignite a yearning in you to pick one up. If I do that, then I count myself blessed.
Wanna give me your take? Questions, comments, silly statements? Email me at BtL@ChristianReviewofBooks.com
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Confessions of a Bookworm