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Opening the books - a couple of questions
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cawm



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 210
Location: Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: Thu May 29, 2008 2:50 pm    Post subject: Re: Opening the books - a couple of questions Reply with quote

bbmedos wrote:


It's one thing to have a "feeling-based" opinon about one book by an author. Or even several. We all do that. However, when the opinion is about summing up a writer's entire backlist shouldn't we at least be able to back it up with more than just our feelings - starting with having read most of said backlist?


Most authors work for some readers and not others. Because Nora Roberts is so popular, I've tried at least a dozen of her books, including almost all of those on the Favorite Books by Favorite Authors list here, but I still haven't found one that I enjoyed. I find her books boring, bland, humorless, uninvolving and lacking in all the elements that appeal to me in a romance. I don't feel the need to back up this opinion with anything, it's an opinion. I know others love her books, and I admire Roberts herself, but it's pointless for me to keep reading her. Her style and characters just do nothing for me. It seems that many readers feel the same way about Stephanie Laurens. Why should those readers continue reading books they dislike in order to qualify to give an opinion? Because Roberts is such a huge presence in Romance, I gave her far more chances than I would normally give an author. If I don't enjoy two or three books , I usually give up, and I certainly feel free to express my negative view. I'm not writing an academic paper, I'm having a discussion about likes and dislikes in genre fiction.
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bbmedos



Joined: 26 Sep 2007
Posts: 274
Location: Western Kentucky, USA

PostPosted: Thu May 29, 2008 5:00 pm    Post subject: Re: Opening the books - a couple of questions Reply with quote

cawm wrote:
Why should those readers continue reading books they dislike in order to qualify to give an opinion?


Am I truly being that unclear in what I'm saying here? Confused

Because I neither want nor expect anyone to read someone they dislike in order to qualify to give an opinion on it. Quite the reverse. Truly, the only thing that bothers me is the pattern of accepting opinions just because they are opinions when the commenter hasn't read the book(s) in the first place. That goes for whether we're talking about an entire genre, a sub-genre or just a single author's backlist.
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Schola



Joined: 10 Jun 2007
Posts: 1867

PostPosted: Fri May 30, 2008 9:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bbmedos, I think the misunderstanding came from the parallel in one of your original questions:

Quote:
If we would question overall observations of the individual who didn't finish a book, why do we not also question the observations about an author by individuals who haven't read all the books by that author?


When I read it, I thought that you were implying that a reader who has not tried all an author's books had a less valid opinion on the books he had read than someone who had read the entire backlist. For instance, if I've read only the first three Cynster novels, then my personal judgment that, say, they weren't great is less valid than the same judgment by someone who has read all the Cynster novels.

That is probably why it's not so clear that you were taking issue with people dismissing an extensive body of work based on a scant few books.

(Have I got that right?)
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bbmedos



Joined: 26 Sep 2007
Posts: 274
Location: Western Kentucky, USA

PostPosted: Fri May 30, 2008 9:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Schola wrote:
Bbmedos, I think the misunderstanding came from the parallel in one of your original questions:

Quote:
If we would question overall observations of the individual who didn't finish a book, why do we not also question the observations about an author by individuals who haven't read all the books by that author?


When I read it, I thought that you were implying that a reader who has not tried all an author's books had a less valid opinion on the books he had read than someone who had read the entire backlist. For instance, if I've read only the first three Cynster novels, then my personal judgment that, say, they weren't great is less valid than the same judgment by someone who has read all the Cynster novels.

That is probably why it's not so clear that you were taking issue with people dismissing an extensive body of work based on a scant few books.

(Have I got that right?)


Yes, and while I can see now where the confusion came in, it also confuses me, too. Because I've only ever questioned whether opinions were less valid if they generalized about all the books by an author instead of just the few they've actually read - an exact parallel to the reader who has only read a few chapters commenting on the entire book as far as I can see.
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Maggie AAR
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Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 2476

PostPosted: Fri May 30, 2008 10:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

bbmedos wrote:

Yes, and while I can see now where the confusion came in, it also confuses me, too. Because I've only ever questioned whether opinions were less valid if they generalized about all the books by an author instead of just the few they've actually read - an exact parallel to the reader who has only read a few chapters commenting on the entire book as far as I can see.


I am fairly certain I disagree with your point. (Not positive since there has been some discussion on what said point is Wink If someone has read 10 Nora Roberts and disliked them all or if they have read 5, I think they can safely say they dislike her style or make generalizations about her books. Given how prolific Nora is and how many types of books she writes (paranormal/contemps/mysteries/futuristics) I think it would be safe to say that if you have read 2 or 3 of another authors work, you could make the same judgement. So if someone disliked three Baloghs and called her a cr*p writer, I would disagree with their opinion but agree with their right to have said opinion. (Especially if they read the Simply series, NOT the place to start imo).

Most authors, not all, but most, do not change the basics that are unique to them. IE, when you pick up a Balogh you are going to get less an adventure and more of a character story or when you pick up a Seidel you are going to see the character within the context of complicated family/friendship relationships etc. They rarely change styles unless we are talking about their first book or two -- after that it might become more polished but from book 20 to book 100 you rarely see big changes. So to me, that means if you disliked books 20 to 25, you will probably dislike books 50-55. Same elements will be there. This is especially true in historical romance, which next to categories, is the most formulaic of the subgenres. (I think the formulas we use are great and allow plenty of room for individuality and creativity, so I don't say that in a derisive way, just as shorthand for the fact that there tends to be no major shift in plots and character types.)

So anyway, for me personally, if I ask "What do you think of author X" I am probably more interested in the opinion of someone who read three books and didn't like them than the person who has read 50 and could write a thesis on the subtle differences between each one. The person who read three has not stake in saying "I disliked this author because . . " The other person has invested a great deal of time and money in the author and does have more at stake.

maggie b.
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dick



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 2498

PostPosted: Fri May 30, 2008 10:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think only when it comes to specifics in a particular book, does a greater amount of information "determine" opinion, as for example, in the scene where supposedly the Cynsters aided and abetted the seduction of one of the twins. The greater information may influence that opinion either way, but I think something other than the information one has "determines" opinion. When it comes to opinion about that scene, I think we fall back on something other than the information we have, as the very interesting discussion of it on the RTR board made clear. And somehow, I think opinions about particular titles in any kind of literature are much the same. For example, I taught the Odyssey and the Aeneid for over 35 years. I became well-informed about both epics, yet if I were asked for my opinion about them, I would have to name the Odyssey as best, despite its less artistic presentation, because, when it came down to it, I simply "liked" it better.
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Kayne



Joined: 31 Mar 2007
Posts: 889

PostPosted: Sun Jun 01, 2008 9:21 am    Post subject: Re: Opening the books - a couple of questions Reply with quote

bbmedos wrote:
All I'm really asking is what's wrong with actually opening the books and getting information and possibly even some added knowledge directly from them on occasion at the same time that we're sharing those personal opinions?


I am always afraid of revealing spoilers by saying too much when discussing my likes and dislikes of books. I have great respect for the reviewers who are able to describe the stories without giving away the suspense.
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