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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Reviewing from the shallow end...

I've been honing my review skills by posting reviews on I thought that if I reviewed books or movies that already have 1500 reviews then my lack of experience wouldn't be noticed and I don't have to worry about having a negative impact on something that deserves better. I also thought I had some skills in this area, because, you see, a  few years ago I taught a university course on critical thinking. I had loved those courses when I was in graduate and post graduate schools so I expected to be in my element teaching it. Of course, it didn't turn out like that - the students were all first year and they were still struggling with the academic structure required and the content of the course was the least of their worries. Oh well, as they say, if you want to learn something, teach it - especially teach it to people who don't want to learn it.

So, I felt I had a more than adequate base to apply critical thinking to literature and movies, but as I do more of this, I find it's not helping me at all. Why, because I have been reviewing books that I'm reading for pleasure, not to broaden my knowledge base (although historical lit provides that) and I don't really want to apply a critical analysis thought process to methods of light entertainment.

I also wonder, when I'm doing a review, what the review reader wants to know. Does she want to know if I liked the plot? Does he want to know if the characters were realistic? Does she care more about the  genre than the storyline? Does he rely on the synopsis to know if he's interested?

I was especially struck with this when I was reviewing The Book Thief. That's my favorite book in the universe. I read and re-read many lines simply to enjoy the wording, and to re-experience the feelings they evoked in me. Well, do review readers care that I can be enraptured by words?

Arrrgh... am I thinking this to death? That isn't my way - I'm a light thinker (embarrassing but true)...and I like to tread in the shallow end of life. Yet, with reviewing, I'm getting myself all twisted into knots. I guess I'll just keep doing Amazon reviews for a while - maybe even start reviewing products like pencil sharpeners ( do they even make those anymore?) till I feel some confidence.

Well friends, have your best day possible.

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