January 26, 2012

Surely It's a Review...and Don't Call Me Shirley*

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A review: what is it? Who can claim the title of "reviewer"? It's the latest book blogging discussion, so it seems. Maggie Stiefvater gave her two cents this week. That's her opinion. Also this is not a new discussion. I'm pretty sure I wrote about this in response to some other kerfuffle years ago.

I've always used the word "review" in my blog titles because, back in the day, I read some blogging advice that this would help people find my blog. Of course, these are not reviews in the sense that she would like. I'm not an academic in any way shape or form. This is not the NYT (duh). Reader or consumer reviews are  just a different animal from those type. Sort of like meningitis, there's viral and bacterial. Bacterial is super serious, not like viral. My reviews are viral meningitis. I will continue to use review in my titles. Other people use Thoughts, or Opinion, and perhaps "Response to" could be used. It's all the same. As Raych pointed out "I am here to lol and get shouty about things." Yes, I am. Perhaps, like those late night TV psychics (do they still exist?), I should have a disclaimer: "For entertainment purposes only." I will tell you what lotto numbers to play but what you do with them is your own business.

But I will exercise my right as an English speaking person to commandeer the word review (because now sick means awesome?). Surely if bloggers can review ice cream or pretzels, I can review books. Granted reviewing books is not quite like reviewing food. ("To Kill a Mockingbird was delicious. Pairs well with a nice Pinot Grigio.") Surely if the English language is flexible enough to use tear as a word to describe both eye juice and what happens when you get your heel caught in your skirt, I can use review for my own purposes. Wording is the personal choice of the blogger. It's not my place to tell you how to run your blog. I'm not going to sweat over review unless the book blog police show up. Surely we all have bigger fish to fry. Carry on...

And don't call me Shirley.

*My Dad always thought that joke was hilarious. He says it all the time. I'm afraid. I'm using his jokes now.

30 comments :

  1. ditto. I totally agree. I call my posts "reviews" too but was thinking I needed a disclaimer in these days. But then, no, it's my blog. I think it's pretty obvious it's my unprofessional, non NYT opinion?

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  2. "My reviews are viral meningitis." Oh that just made me laugh SO HARD.

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    1. I'm glad I can entertain you!

      This is OT, but I remember being a teen and waiting in line outside the local firehall for a meningitis vaccination. It was the H1N1 of the 90s.

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  3. These discussions really are cyclical, aren't they? I think the meaning of the word "review" is wide enough to accommodate different kinds of responses to books.

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    1. They always seem to circle back to us, long after we think they're done.

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  4. I completely agree. I read that blog post and I'm thinking I may as well steer clear of the authors books because my goal is to review all the books I read.

    There are many meanings of "review" and standardising it just wouldn't work.

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  5. Ha! Surely, Shirley! (Yep, we say THAT all the time at our house!) I will still use the word review too, but wow, my reviews don't even come close to academic. But, hey, who cares? Not me.

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  6. A few years ago, I saw a cartoon that went something like this: An old, male preacher is told about a new woman preacher, and he says, "Surely not!" In the last panel, a woman wearing a collar (I think) says, "I'm Shirley Knott. How did you know my name?"

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  7. Add me to the list of folks who still uses the Shirley pun. ;)

    And, yes, I think we all have bigger fish to fry... (This is part of why I stopped writing Reviews, because I only had Responses, really, and not very deep ones at that. Kerfuffles ruffle me.)

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    1. (I mean to say that all the pressure of writing these scholarly essays on books (which is what I feel like so many people want) was not my thing. So I stopped, to keep my enjoyment for reading. But yes, a review is a review, for goodness sake.)

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    2. Nope, I can't be scholarly. I can get deep sometimes but not academic.

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  8. Awesome!! I love the idea of "commandeering the word review." Right on!

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    1. I need to commandeer a few other ones. ;)

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  9. If Amazon 'reviews' are reviews, then the word 'review' is meaningless. So we can do WHATEVER WE WANT with it.

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    1. Badges? We don't need no stinking badges! We book bloggers are rule breakers.

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  10. Thanks for pointing me towards some interesting reading. I've never considered Amazon (or other sites) reviews to be reviews at all. I almost never read them myself. What we do on our blogs is "reviews." They take many forms, certainly. But we take the time (some more than others) to work on them and to publish them on a site that is connected to our name and reputation, whatever we want that reputation to be.

    I've never paid much attention to the little blurbs on Amazon, et.

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    1. I read a product review on Amazon yesterday that was hilarious. There are a few gems in there.

      I never think to link my reviews to Amazon. I like my little place here.

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  11. I really don't get the impulse some people have to try to delineate reviews from reactions from rants from whatever. Surely a review can't take many forms, just like a book can! I call my posts reviews because it seems like the most appropriate word. Other people can call my posts reactions, responses, whatever. It doesn't matter to me.

    The thing I found curious about Stiefvater's definition--that a review is a little academic paper--is that it would exclude a lot of newspaper reviews, which are rarely academic, although many (not all!) avoid personal, emotion-driven reactions. I suppose both do try to support their assertions with facts, which may be what she was getting at.

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  12. Hey Billy . . . have you ever seen a grown man naked?

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  13. So entertaining. I love it and concur with every sentiment. One of the best posts I've read.

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  14. Couldn't agree more. I get sick and tired of the whole it isnt a review if its on a blog' thing - get over it and relax I say. People who blog (the majority anyway) are doing it for fun. Calling it a review doesn't mean we are pretending to be anything we're not. Its my review of the book. What I think about it. How I responded to it.

    I can't believe people have time to worry about things like this!

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  15. Carry on is right. I'm so sick and tired of all of this kerfuffle. Great take...Shirley. ;)

    And what an idea to pair books with wines. Think you should do that more often. Ha!

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  16. Why do things seem to be getting worse rather than better between bloggers, authors, and publishers? It makes me want to go hide in a hole. Because I am anal-retentive, I looked up the definition of review online. "An inspection or examination for the purpose of evaluation" or "A report or essay giving a critical estimate of a work or performance". It says nothing about differentiating between professional versus blogger. It does not state that only those who get paid to write reviews actually write reviews. No matter how we say it, all bloggers are giving "a critical estimate" of a book. Seriously, some people need to get off their high horse and learn to play nicely with others.

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  17. Just because we don't review what some people find important doesn't make them non-reviews. Bloggers review and critique gender, race, class, sexual identity and more in books, as well as the writing and characters and plot and etc. How is what we do not 'reviewing'? Our posts are our thoughts and assessments. Hence, a review.

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  18. Kerfuffle is such a great word.
    GREAT post, too. Thank you. LOVE your take.

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  19. I just started a blog and spent some time agonizing over whether to use the word "review" to describe my posts. In the end, I decided against it but I completely agree with you and the others. I don't think even a disclaimer is needed. It's your blog, do what you want. "Those who mind, don't matter, and those that matter, don't mind" (Dr. Seuss).

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