Recently I saw a woman standing in line at the supermarket. She had one item – a bottle of milk. Our supermarket does not have any express lanes. She was third in line. The couple directly in front of her had a trolley filled with groceries. They looked at the woman and her bottle of milk several times and I expected they would do as my husband or I would have done in that position and let her go before them. Not so. When the person in front of them finished they placed all their items on the conveyer belt, ignoring the woman and her one item. To say my husband and I were flabbergasted was an understatement. Both of us could not believe people could be so inconsiderate to keep her waiting for the next ten minutes while their accumulations of groceries went through. What in the world has happened to common courtesy? It seems common courtesy is a disappearing commodity in our world.
It’s not much different in the world of writers and readers. The reality is not everyone is going to like a book. This results in some books being given 4 or 5 stars while the same book by another person can be given 1 or 2 stars. If writing a negative review, the reviewer needs to say why the book does not work for them. Often the very things one reader may object vigorously to in a book may not worry another reader at all. Bad language and sex scenes are just two that come to mind. Of course I’ve seen other people say when a book doesn’t have these things that the writer is not living in the real b world by not portraying them. Again, it is a difference of world view, of beliefs and of opinion.
A while ago I started to read a book and was turned off by excessive language and explicit sexual scenes. I gave up on it. Other times I have been persisted to read the book, skimming over bits, because the rest of the story was so good. As a courtesy to others who may wish to read the book, when I have written the review I have usually commented on those aspects that I had trouble with. That way if someone is not comfortable with such things they know and may choose not to read the book.
Another book I started, bored me because of the way it was written. To me it was a book where nothing happened. Yet other people have enjoyed this book. I made my comments about why I gave up reading it and gave my reasons but was attacked by someone online because their opinion was not the same.
We all have different ideas of what constitutes a good book and what is acceptable to us. I gently explained to the person that we were probably at a different stage in life with different expectations and interests. When she persisted in telling me I was wrong and attacked me, I withdrew, not my review, but withdrew from making any more comments.
Often when I have written a review that it is negative I have said it is a personal reaction and others may like the book. It just wasn’t for me.
It reminded me of someone I knew who hated living on the coast. She preferred living inland with rolling hills. I live near the sea and feel blessed by God to be able to do so. I never ever expected such a thing would eventuate. I have lived inland but much prefer living on the coast. She is happier going for a walk in bushland. I love going for walk by the bay near our home.
Different people with different ideas. We accept that we are different. It doesn’t mean her view is right and mine is wrong .It doesn’t mean I am right and she is wrong either. It’s just different views. It doesn’t mean we can’t be friends because our ideas are different. Sometimes it’s those very differences that enhance our friendships and other relationships. Think how boring it would be if we were all the same? The thing is to allow other readers and writers the courtesy of having different opinions just as we do with our friends. It’s just common courtesy.
Over the years Dale has written fiction, poetry, children’s fiction, bible studies and Sunday school lessons. More information about Dale can be found at www.daleharcombe.com or on her Write and Read with Dale blog http://www.livejournal.com/users/orangedale/