professornana (professornana) wrote,

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You Gotta READ the Book!

Thank you a million times, Elizabeth Bird, for your post about those who would participate in critical discussions of books: While I am saddened that it even needs to be said, I appreciate the fact that you took a big gulp of air and let these words out: "You have to read a book to critique it."

Think about the reconsideration of materials forms many have on file in their libraries. One of the items on the form for registering a challenge to a book asks if the patron has read the book, the entire book. It is about CONTEXT.

I often think about this when watching shows where pundits take snippets of campaign speeches and criticize them. I want the context of the entire quote. Ditto the announcement the President made about reducing testing (Hint, if you do the math 2% of school days=more than 24 hours of testing). But back to the matter at hand.

As a reviewer, I would never consider writing a review based on a reading of only parts of the book. How can I comment on the quality of the book unless I have read it all? How could I comment on a scene or a phrase (which is at the heart of recent rather vociferous posts about A FINE DESSERT and THE HIRED GIRL) if I do not know the entire book so I can place things in context?

One more note: if I truly find a book not worthy, I usually ask for a second reviewer to take a look at it. I do not take pride in writing a negative review. I worry that: a) maybe the book simply was not meant for me as a reader; b) that I have read too much or too little into the book; c) that I am being overly critical; d) all of the above.

And a final note: I love a spirited discussion of books. However, some of the spirit in recent discussions have discouraged me from participating as those who disagreed in some cases were labeled as racist, sexist, etc. This gets us nowhere, folks. Talk to me. Reason with me. This is how we discuss and not simply dismiss.
Tags: criticism, discussion, reading
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