When I'm looking to get new books to read, I find myself checking out the reviews. Some you can tell are just family and friends gushing. Some are good and helpful, and then others you can tell are just unhappy people that don’t like anything.
The ones that annoy me the most though, are the ones that are useless. They don’t talk about the book itself. Instead they focus on small grammar issues or “mistakes” that they found or how they don’t believe the story.
I was recently recommended a book by Amazon. Nothing new there, I check my recommendations often. I like to read biographies. Any kind usually as long as there is a story there. This recommended book was a story of a woman who had left the Amish community and why. Sounded decent, so, I checked it out and the reviews were annoying to say the least. If I went by the reviews, I never would have read it. There were complaints about how badly it was written. Reviews on mistakes found. Reviews on how the story was false, because the reviewer lived with the Amish and they knew what the author was saying could not be true (since when are the Amish on the internet?). I bought it anyway. It was on sale and even if it was as bad as the reviews were saying, it was worth a shot for $.99.
First, I read a lot. I don’t mean that I read a few books a year. I mean I read a lot, at least a book a week and sometimes more. I don’t watch a lot of tv, instead I chose to read. In all those books, I can say, that very few are perfection. What people don’t seem to understand is that a book goes first through the author and their own personal edit. Then it goes through the publisher and their edit. Then it probably goes through a beta reader or two and their edit. A ton of people are searching through books before they go to print and they still miss stuff. It’s not a deal breaker. If you can’t just skip over it and replace it with the corrected word, period, nuance, then that is your issue and not the issue of the author.
Seeking perfect in everything just makes you look petty and angry. Life is not perfection. It’s full of mistakes. If a book is riddled with errors, well that’s one thing. Then you can complain. If there is one or two or even a small handful of boo-boos, so what? Move on. It’s not the end of your world. The fact that people take time out of their lives to blast a book because it had an error in it, tells me that someone has too much time on their hands to waste and they need to get a hobby. If they are writers themselves, well be sure to let me know what your works are so that I can scour through them as well in search of mistakes to blast you with.
The people that try to discredit an author are another brand of petty. This is usually in the form of personal biographies or life stories. They like to call the author a liar or wrong as if they KNOW what that person lived through and survived. That they KNOW how it really was. Ugh. When you have lived their life day for day; moment by moment; then you can tell their story. Until that time, you are more than welcome to tell your own story. You can put the time and energy into writing a book.
So, what did I think of the book on the Amish woman. I enjoyed it. It was long. Way longer than I expected. I felt she put her heart and soul into that book. I could feel her frustrations, and her fears. I could sense her courage and her determination. Yes, there were a few mistakes. Not a ton, but enough to note. Did I believe her accounting 100%. I believe it is her accounting. I believe it is how she sees her life. Whether it is true in all Amish communities, I wouldn’t know. What I do know is that this was her story. That’s good enough for me. Someone else can write their own and it may be a complete opposite. I understand that all experiences are colored by our own life and mistakes and drive. My world is seen in a different view than someone else that may be traveling along with me. Doesn’t mean my views are wrong.
Be careful when you review a book. This is someone’s hard work.