The good, the fun, and the unreadable
Or, what is the use of this blog
We live in blessed times. With a greater number of people, generalised literacy, and widespread access to technology and media, the number of works published across the globe is in the staggering number range. We, the readers, have a cornucopia at our fingertips.
Sadly, there is some wisdom in the concept of 'quality over quantity'. While greater amounts of literature mean an increased possibility of a) finding a fabulous new author/genre; b) never running out of material to consume; and c) expanding our taste palate, they also mean that we are going to find many of those works help in none of these categories. Indeed, it is becoming more and more common, in my experience, that I feel sadly underwhelmed by, or even downright irritated by the lack of, the quality of the new books I get to read.
Now, as a disclaimer, let me get this out first: I do not expect all authors to be on a level with Shakespeare, Hugo, Murakami or Gracía Márquez, to name but a few. Real genius is the more enjoyable for its rarity. In addition, I am a firm believer in all ranges of literature being desirable for the different stages we experience as readers. For example, I am an avid consumer of fanfiction, and I have long expressed my enjoyment of a good "pulp" romance, yet I lap up classics such as Dickens or non-fiction and/or academic essays with as much gusto.
However, and this is the key point, I expect that the books I read, those that have been produced as formally published tomes, meet a certain minimum standards of quality. These cover maturity of style, plot, character development, etcetera, as well as clear editorial professionalism (data corroboration, voice consistency, all the way to simple proofreading). I may not care that the 'fanfic' written by a young adult in Malaysia on a smartphone totally ignores narrative structure, but I certainly expect the volume I just picked up at my local bookstore to know it well enough to either follow it, or skillfully deconstruct it.
All these come to explain the rationale behind this blog. As an experienced reader, editor, proofreader and writer, I feel how 'bad' literature detracts from the whole process of reading. Even sites where one can encounter reviews tend to leave me wanting, as I often find that these present a single-minded judgement of the text, rather than (what I would call) a balanced overview. Therefore, I decided to share my own critical views on the books I read. The intent is to both explain who may or may not enjoy them, as well as the reasons why. Then, I will present a more extended (not necessarily extensive, though) analysis, with, on occasion, suggestions for its improvement. This last section is aimed at both readers or writers, in the hope they are helpful in future publishing endeavours.
Lastly, may I wish you many joyous hours in front of a page, or with earbuds in, as you let words create marvelous worlds for you to discover.