In some ways, it is harder to write a positive book review than a negative one. When I don’t like a book, it’s easy to convey the fact that I don’t think anyone else should read it, and when I get nothing or so little from a book, then there are no deep feelings to convey or intense meaning to eagerly hint at. All I have to do is say I did not like it, maybe give a few examples of particularly awful things, and move on.
But when a book is good, when it has meaning and touches me on a personal level or makes me see something in a different way than I usually would, that is more difficult to explain. True, when a book is genuinely good there should be [;enty of positive aspects for me to gush about. However, there is a danger in this of becoming repetitive or obnoxiously over-enthusiastic. The worst possible outcome would be for someone to be turned away from something they could have benefitted from because I used too many meaningless words.
On the other hand, there are many times when I feel like my words don’t come close to doing the book I enjoyed justice. Any good thing I say will never truly reflect how good the book is. There is no way to thoroughly convey the impact of the book without convincing someone to read the book so they can actually know what I mean.
A good book is like a good song: often, it touches you in ways that you cannot explain in words. The emotions, the questions, and the meaning cannot be picked apart into neat sentences made of simple words and letters following rules. No, these are things that cannot be shared except between two people who have been similarly affected by the same book. Literature, like any other artform, is often personal and emotional. Even when there are no big ‘purpose of life’-type questions (though these are often present even in the books you would least except to find them in, if you look close enough), the experience of a good book can be difficult to articulate.
Isn’t that how a lot of life is, too? For some reason it is so much easier to critique and find faults than to mention something good. A lot of news programs reserve one block of time for an uplifting story about someone doing something good; I think we should do this in our own lives, too. When you feel like all you can do is complain, strive to think of one good thing that has happened. Be it small and simple or enormous and complex, make the little extra effort to find something positive.
And now I’m off to try to write 2 reviews of books I truly did enjoy. Hopefully my next post or so will convince you to check them out even if I can’t find exactly the right words to explain why I like themJ