2010 has been a year of great books for me already. It started with The Little Stranger and The Unnamed (the first pantyworthy book of the year). It continued with my better-late-than-never discovery of Sarah Vowell. And then came In the Land of Believers and Flow and Just Don’t Fall (which I should have hated but ended up lurving).
Most recently, Orange is the New Black and The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors rocked my world, and in the next week or so, I’ll be reviewing The Singer’s Gun (about which I plan to gush excessively because it was REALLY FREAKING GOOD) and Day for Night (pantyworthy, for sure).
Last night, I started Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes, which I’ve been assured is going to be face-meltingly awesome. In another day or two, I’ll probably be plotting ways to slip him a pair of camouflage undies when I meet him at Politics & Prose on June 8th.
So yeah, there’s been a lot of gushing this year because there have been a lot of deserving books.
And because I’ve been picking the right ones.
Someone (I can’t remember who) said something on Twitter recently to the tune of “I know you don’t write negative reviews, but….” and I was all, “What do you MEAN, I don’t write negative reviews?” Remember #iheartthespark? Remember when I spoiled The Lost Symbol? Remember all that ambivalence about Beatrice and Virgil? And don’t even get me started on Stephenie Meyer.
And there are others, novels whose surprise twists just didn’t work out and memoirs that tended to the self-indulgent and nonfiction pieces that were too dry to be readable.
I do write negative reviews…when the books call for it. I am always honest about my response to a book and my thoughts about its strengths and weaknesses. If something is really horrible, I put it aside after 50 pages because 1) life is too short and 2) I’m not going to tear something apart or go crazy insulting an author just because doing it will give me a bump in traffic. That’s not how I roll.
But the bottom line is that I’m really picky, and the more I read, the better I get at selecting books that are going to challenge me, entertain me, impress me, expand my mind, and make me want to toss my panties. That’s what this year of reading deliberately is all about. The community of intelligent, discerning readers I’ve found here on the interweb also helps. I know whose recommendations to trust. I know who has similar taste. I listen when they tell me what they think they’ll like.
Also, I’m selective about which review pitches I accept. I take the books that sound fantastic, and when it turns out that they are, I gush appropriately and do my best to tell you what makes them so fabulous. (And when they’re less than fab, you know I tell you that, too.)
I have become a picky, picky lady, and it is totally paying off. I almost always feel that my reading time is well spent, with a variety of books on a variety of topics, with all kinds of characters and themes and language and images. Variety is the spice of my reading life, and the common thread between all of these books I’m gushing about is that they are supremely gush-worthy.
Sure, I can write you a negative review . But what’s with all the suspicion about a series of positive reviews? Why the assumption that because I’ve been writing positive reviews (about books that totally deserve them), I don’t write negative ones? If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time at all, you should know that I tell it like it is.
I’m just reading the books I want to read. I’m loving most of them. Who would have it any other way?