She who loves acronyms (and designs beautiful blog headers like mine) Tara of 25 Hour books has posed this week’s discussion topic. Tara asks if we are Overly Critical Readers (O.C.R.s) which, she tells us, is identified by these symptoms
- not liking characters in the beginning (needing the main character to prove themselves before you’ll respect them)
- rolling your eyes while reading (needing things to be completely realistic)
- shouting things such as “WTF?!” (needing every plot twist and turn to be foreseeable)
Tara then goes on to suggest some remedies to help you from becoming an O.C.R. but before we tackle that part of the equation I should ponder whether or not I am ‘one of them’.
I am certainly a critical reader. This blog is all about one person’s very subjective reactions to the things I read. Just as I’ve raved about the books I’ve loved I’ve ranted about the ones I didn’t love (should you wish to see check out the category listing for 0.5, 1 or 2 stars in the RH side bar). But am I overly critical?
I start each book expecting to like it. Actually at the start each book is a 5 on my personal scale and it loses points along the way for things that make me love it a little less. Some lose no points (the 5s), some lose a couple of points and some…well…require me to switch to a hundred point scale just so there would be more points to lose.
Sometimes points are lost due to lousy characters but I never think of them having to ‘prove themselves’. They don’t even have to be likable but I do want hem to be interesting in some way. Points are also lost for a lack of realism but not because I demand things are exactly like real life. I do however demand that if you create a world then you should be consistent within it. And if you make the claim that your world is realistic then I am going to be disappointed if you make silly mistakes (like using a technology that wasn’t invented until 50 years after your story setting). As for alarming plot twists well the more the merrier I say and I’m far more likely to be critical if the plot is totally foreseeable than when it isn’t.
Most of the reason I write reviews is so that people, including my future self who has a memory like a sieve, will get a sense of whether or not they want to read the book themselves. So there’s a bit of my personality in each review (so you know if your reading tastes are similar to mine and therefore whether the things I like and don’t like about the book will similarly influence you). Then I try to list my reasons for liking or not liking the book and give an overall reaction: love it, hate it or meh.
Personally, when I look for reviews to read I want some criticism. I intuitively ignore sites or Good Reads reviewers who are under-critical. I put them in the same category as people who think it’s OK to give every kid in the class a prize and play sport without keeping score. It just doesn’t feel right. And it’s not particularly helpful to me. If everything is presented as equal then how does that help me make a choice about what to read?
So I’m not sure if I am an O.C.R. or just a C.R. but I’m comfortable. And for myself I like to read reviews by fellow C.R.s and am likely to avoid the U.C.R. (Under Critical Reader).
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If you want to see what others are saying about being an O.C.R. head over to Weekly Geeks. If you have some thoughts on being critical, overly or otherwise, please leave a comment and if you want to be critical of my being critical feel free (the least I can do is take as good as I give).