1. belonging to, proceeding from, or relating to the mind of the thinking subject and not the nature of the object being considered
2. of, relating to, or emanating from a person’s emotions, prejudices, etc. subjective views
This is an interesting concept; subjectivity. Despite knowing myself exactly what it means, I had to go look it up to confirm my suspicions; namely that the seemingly endless reams of vitriol on the internet and in the media about an author’s work were just that.
How much credence do we give to reviews and thought pieces?
It cannot have escaped anyone’s attention – unless of course you have been hiding in a mountainside cave in deepest Mongolia – that the Fifty Shades of Grey Trilogy by British author E.L. James has divided the literary community. Some can see the value of a love story hidden beneath some graphic and admittedly, gratuitous at times, taboos such as S and M. But, here it is again….I just called it gratuitous; maybe it wasn’t. That was merely my opinion.
I have read these books and I unashamed to say I loved them. Now I have read a LOT of books and I often choose escapism and YA fiction over sweeping great historical works of literature. But, I have read many books which the world accepts as being great too, books like Pride and Prejudice, The Handmaid’s Tale and lots of Shakespeare (I am a sucker for Will!) and on the other hand; I have read many the reviewers would pan for clumsy, awkward prose and dialogue; but I loved them all the same. This is the beauty of it. If someone likes it (and in this case millions of people) that is all that matters.
As a (future published!) author I cannot help but wonder what the fall out is of all this for the author. E.L James. While I am sure she is most interested in the huge outpouring of love for the characters she created it must sting a little. She sat down with a Twilight fan fiction idea and it snowballed into one of the most talked about books of all time. Hell, it is the fastest-selling paperback of all time and the fastest selling book on Kindle. Take that haters.
This will no doubt start a debate, but that is good. Debate and discussion are good and valuable. My point is; the dismissal of a work which has sold this many copies and engaged so many readers seems a little unjust. Ultimately, the point of this post was to highlight that we are all entitled to our opinions and reviews and comment play a huge role in all art forms; but, while it may not be Shakespeare, it is important to remember, it was never meant to me.
You might not want to read them and you might have started and decided you didn’t like it for a multitude of reasons, but either way…the most important thing is that you make up your own mind.
I know my writing, as it stands now, is not perfect and there are no doubt huge clunking sections of prose that need oiling and fixing to within an inch of their lives, but, if one day a stranger reads something of mine and tells me it made them smile, laugh, cry, dream; THAT, is what it is about. I hope E.L.James is proud of how much debate her books have started and that she takes away that she has already achieved the dream. People care enough to talk about it…good or bad.
What makes a good book is completely and totally subjective. If it weren’t, there wouldn’t be so many different types!!
A few thoughts to close on…
Would you read a book even if it got bad reviews?
How do you choose your books? Recommendations? Bookstore gazing? The emails Amazon sends you?
What is your favourite book?