People are beginning to wonder why I only write four- or five-star reviews. The answer is simple. No, it's not to flatter or placate authors. I only review books that I love and that inspire and excite me. I am not a professional literary critic. I am a writer and avid reader and I want to write about books I feel good about. I know how hard it is to write a book, how time-consuming, and how exciting.
The writing process is a lot of sweat, interspersed with moments of elation and deep satisfaction. Once a book is finished and you find out that someone else likes it as well, that readers are inspired by it, that it means something to them, then, somehow, everything comes together. You forget all the heartache, the ripped-out hair, the self-doubt, and you bask, for a moment, in that warm feeling of being understood by someone, accepted, you delight in the knowledge that you have touched someone. That, to me, is worth more than the sale of books (which I like too, of course. I'm not Mother Teresa - oh, by the way, did you know she just turned 100? Talk about inspiration! Happy Birthday!)
Anyway, because I know how good it feels to receive a positive review, I enjoy doing this for other authors as well. I don't write book reviews on demand, because then I would have to review books I may not like and would have to give a lower score. And I don't want to do that.
There are enough reviewers out there who give 1- or 2- or 3-star reviews and that's fine for them. A negative review as long as it is respectful and sensitive can be very helpful for an author. (I am not talking about those insulting diatribes that attack an author personally or make unreasonable assumptions. I'm not talking about reviewers who are failed writers and take it out on those who still have the courage to write. You know what I mean.)
But for me:
4-Stars: I love it and have perhaps a suggestion how it could be made even better.
5-Stars: I love it. It's well-crafted, language and content are in sync. It may not be absolutely perfect, but I'm excited, it gives me joy and means something to me.
Monday, August 30, 2010
Why I write only 5- and 4-Star Book Reviews
Christa Polkinhorn, originally from Switzerland, lives and works as writer and translator in the Los Angeles area, California. She divides her time between the United States and Switzerland and has strong ties to both countries. She is the author of five novels and a collection of poems. Her travels and her interest in foreign cultures inform her work and her novels take place in several countries. Aside from writing and traveling, she is an avid reader and a lover of the arts, dark chocolate, and red wine.