Sunday, June 5, 2011

Saying What You Like About an Author

A few years ago I started baking cookies and other treats for the bike racing team that my husband and I coach. After a few batches of cookies I started to experiment with a pinch more of this or a dash of that. I asked the team for feedback on my changes, but few of them said much beyond, “They’re good!” It occurred to me that either the team didn’t like what I was making very much or they just didn’t know what to say. Finally, one of them explained, “The thing is, in any proportion butter, sugar and chocolate taste pretty good.”

I’ve noticed that lots of people say similar things about the authors they like. I wonder if that’s because most people forgot the analysis techniques they learned in school. I also think that the kind of close reading that this analysis requires just isn’t fun for most people. There isn’t a lot of casual dialogue like this about books. There’s a lot of it in book clubs – but that’s where it stays.

Do you think this level of analysis matters? And is the personal experience you have with a book more important than being able to talk about it and learn what other people think about it? Add your answer to the comments section below and you could win a copy of Outside In by Maria Snyder.


  1. I have a theory that when you know very little about something or have very little experience with it, your analysis tends to be very general. Such as, I liked it or I didn't like it. And typically when people don't do something very much they tend to like things much more easily. So I have some friends who never watch movies, but they see one on a plane and just love it so much, because of the novelty factor. Same for books. But when you do something a lot, you tend to become more discerning and you also tend to get a better grasp on what it is that you like in a book, and what you don't. And then all of a sudden you are better able to articulate it -- as in you were disappointed with the "easy choice the author took with this or that character", killing them off for example, instead of dealing with the really tough questions in their life (this is the way I felt recently about a very popular book in the UK right now). I think it's like anything in life -- it's practice and interest.

  2. There are times when I have a hard time understanding how to rate a novel. It isn't until I've discussed it thoroughly with someone else. Take Mockingjay for example. I recently read a review that completely put into words how I felt about it. We ended up rating the book completely differently. It really made me take a look back onto my own feelings of the book. I think analysis is great!

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  3. I think people who may be more passionat about other things-like the bike racing team players-then they may not read that many books and don't think of replys that would've been used in books. With general things I don't think analysis is that important, however, I think it matters when a person asks a specific question to get a thoughtful answer. Even if you cannot share what you have learned from a book, it doesn't take away the personal message and skills you have recieved. The memorys that are now held within that book will never fade and you will be able to relive the personal experience you had before. You'll never forget no-matter what.

  4. The last post was made by me. This is how you could contact me. Still not sure how all this blogging works, lol :)

  5. I think a lot of people read for the pleasure of it, plain and simple. There have been plenty of books that I've liked, say 3 out of 5 stars, but couldn't pinpoint exactly what I liked or disliked about it. Sometimes it's so ingrained in personal taste that it's hard to analyze. Books that I really love or really hate, on the other hand, are very easy to analyze. It's those middle-of-the-road books that render me opinion-less.

    Thanks for giving away Maria Snyder's book! I'm a die-hard fan of hers.

  6. I think my personal opinion is more important than others. It is what I think of when I read a book and my opinion won't change from others thoughts, but their thoughts might help me understand more.

  7. When I read a book, I don't always analyse it as much as a I truly should, so I get where you are coming from. In this world, in the now, we tend to just read through books, declare if we 'love them or hate them' then set it on our shelf. If we REALLLLLY loved them, then we will prossibly reread something, if not, they may just stay there and collect dust. I DO think its important that we take time to analyse a book, and I try to go back and go over them later on. While it can be boring and tedious, it is also something that can lead to more insight and maybe change your whole opinion on the actual novel. If people want to just sit back and read a book, then let them go right ahead, but I think its a good choice, maybe even a HEALTHY choice, to sometimes decide to analyse a book to pieces. Who knows, maybe you'll change your mind on a book completely.

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