essay

Reading, Writing, and Reviewing

Picture of 3 pink roses on an open book.

Forgive me Internet, for I have sinned. I meant to write a review of that kick-ass book I just read, but alas, my own ego got in the way. The book inspired me to whip open my poetry file and start banging out words. Reading is not a soul-sucking endeavor, as some people seem to think. Rather it kicks my mojo into gear and fires me up to do battle with the blank page. 

Thank you, other writers. 

But before every battle is a fallow time, to read, to sharpen weapons and study maps. A time to give thanks to the writing gods for keeping the muse corralled in my mental jail. It’s also the time to give back. I’ve been negligent in this. I read. A lot. I write. A lot. So writing a book review should be a simple task. 

It’s not. 

I want to be fair to the author, I know how much work went into making their baby. Releasing it into the world is one of the toughest things they’ll ever do. Nobody likes to be exposed, standing naked, waiting for a review that won’t devastate. But what if I loved the book, except for one little thing?

Be kind. 

The world needs more kindness, as do writers. Think of how good critiques should be done (in your writing group or your life), and proceed the same way. Were you confused about something? Don’t express annoyance, point out where you were confused and suggest what could have been done to alleviate that confusion. Did you not get what the poet was trying to tell you? Sometimes the fault lies in the reader. The poem/book was not for you. It’s okay to admit that. The good thing about books is there is a book for everyone out there. Pick out something you DID like and talk about that. No need to shish-ka-bob the writer. Don’t give in to base impulses. Nobody feels good afterward. 

Maybe I’m too nice. I don’t see it as a flaw. I want to gift my fellow writers with a pat on the back, not a punch in the gut. Yes, now we all gather around, hold hands, and sing kumbaya. I am a throwback hippie, I suspect, but face it, the world needs more happy. 

You can do it. So can I. Let’s resolve to get up off our lazy duffs and start passing out rainbows, kittens, and unicorns—Stop that eye-rolling, your face will get stuck that way. Mom said.

Reach through the keyboard and offer some kudos today. Spread the love. Writers will feel ten feet tall. 

So will you.