Book peevishness

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I found this Mastodon post by user Danie Ware, where she mentions her pet peeve about book reviews quite interesting:

Pet peeve:

A book review is a review of the book. You read the book, and you write down whether you liked it or not.

It is not:

Whether the postman bought it on time
How it was packaged
If it was left out in the rain
Whether your local store had it in stock
The publisher’s selling policy
What kind of paper the pages were…


Why is this a difficult concept?

It instantly got me thinking how I both totally agree and disagree with her opinion at the same time.

On the one hand, one’s thoughts about the storyline, the characters and the writer’s ability to give you the next page turner or the worst thing you’ve ever read is exactly what the core of a written book review is, and that’s the kind of informed opinion I’m after whenever I feel like reading a new book. I look for confirmations and, in that sense, want to know how far my expectations could go if I read a new book.

But, on the other hand, I simply cannot think of a book disregarding its handling and packaging. The quality of its cover, its printing, the fonts used and its adaptation to my language, for instance, if I’m reading a translated work. I mean, how could I fully enjoy my experience with the best plot ever in my hands if the font is horrible or there are typos, translation or printing errors? How less amazing would it be to read a new book when it’s torn or crumpled? I don’t know. Just like driving the fastest car ever made while it is all dirty?

Don’t get me wrong. I totally understand Danie’s point of view. I just guess a book’s review should be split in two parts, say, the story part, plot, writing and author originality included; and the user experience part, embracing shipping, delivery, quality and anything else related.

As (almost) everything must be paid for twice, it is only fair to be able to evaluate both these parts. After all, no matter how well written and innovative a book is, you might not be able to pay the second time for it, that is, engage in the effort and the initiative required to collect the benefits one would have after the reading is done something already hard in itself, only turned even harder due to any book mistreatment.

But this is only my pet peeve, and you’re free to disagree — or not.

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