Book Reviews and Author Intent (or Recommending a Book You Didn’t Like)

I received a copy of My Lady Jane in an OwlCrate and finally read it a few weekends ago. I knew within the first 10 pages it wasn’t for me. I didn’t clique with the writing style, there was author-narrator interruption that made me cringe, and–honestly–humans turning into animals creep me out. [I try to actively avoid any human-animal hybrids.]

22840421This book is made up of everything I hate in YA [or any other genre] fiction.

Yet, I couldn’t stop reading. And I feel weirdly compelled to recommend this book to other people.

Why? The authors [three co-authors] obviously had so much damn fun with it. It’s hard not to get caught up in their spirit.

I’ve written for various reasons at various times [escapism, desperation, grief, money, fear…] and I could argue anyone who writes routinely gets something out of it. But I rarely read books that are so full of joy and inside jokes [and Monty Python references] that the plot doesn’t matter.

This book reminded me of co-writing flash fiction in a really good writing group, of made-up adventures created with friends while driving around campus after midnight, of explaining to my goddaughter that the internet is run by super-fast, microscopic elves. It reminded me of the kind of joy the process of creating can give way to.

Originally, I didn’t plan to post this today. Of all the blog posts I’ve prewritten it fell largely in the “average” pile. Instead, I wanted to post a piece about my feelings on the state of the country. Of my fear and anger. Of how I feel like I can no longer participate in conversations with friends and family [on both sides]. But at the last second I delete it.

There are plenty of better, stronger, more articulate voices out there doing that. And I wanted to bring you something I could use a lot more of in my public life: Joy.

So no. I didn’t like My Lady Jane [or this blog post]. But I drank it in anyway.

Because that’s what you do when a tall tale brings you joy–swallow it.

What’s bringing you joy (in spite of it all) this week?


2 thoughts on “Book Reviews and Author Intent (or Recommending a Book You Didn’t Like)

  1. Alison Doherty says:

    This is super interesting. Over five years of reviewing books have totally changed my opinion on what it means to not like a book. Before when I didn’t like a book, I thought it was a bad book. Now *most of the time* I expect that it just isn’t the book for me.

    • Resa says:

      Agreed! I’ve read some books that are genuinely bad, but for most books I don’t like I could name at least one person I know who’d really enjoy it. It’s one reason I try not to look at Goodreads ratings until I’ve read a book…I’ve read some low-rated books I’ve really loved, and I’ve been disappointed by 5 starred ones.

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