Monday, April 7, 2014

MONDAY'S MUSINGS: Building Up Instead of Tearing Down

Today we are going to be talking about something that is very important to me here at the blog -- what I like to call the bookish community. Essentially, I define the bookish community as anyone involved in the creation, selling or support of books. This includes writers and readers, of course, but also publishers, booksellers, blogs like my own and other professional reviewers, among others. I like to think of the bookish community as a world comprised of many smaller communities demarcated by genre and other specifications. Every member of these communities has a part to play.

My roles, for now, in the communities that I have taken part in are reviewer and reader. That sounds pretty simple: people write books, other people publish them, I pick them up, read them, and say "Hey man, read this one." However, it's more important than that. The reviewer, in theory, has influence on readers and readers have a great deal of control over the books that are released in the future.

Nobody reads a book? That book likely isn't getting a sequel. Its author is going to have a harder time getting their next project off the ground, sequel or not. If you like an author, you can have clear influence on whether or not you see more from that author in the future. There is much to say about this but I'll keep in short and direct: buy books. If you like them, tell other people to buy them, buy other things by the same authors, vote with your wallet. It is the power you have and it is a great power and you know what Uncle Ben says about great power.

The rest of this rant of mine is going to be about my other role: reviewing. I review because I love books and I love talking about them because I want to share the things I love with other people. I want to talk to the people who create the things I love and express my gratitude. I want to build up the bookish community because it is my community. I want to see it thrive. I don't want to see it fall upon hard times. I don't want to see it die.

It's natural to want your community to get even healthier and better and part of that is pointing out the things in it that don't work or could work better. That said, you shouldn't demolish the entire community just because one part of it isn't to your liking. That is why I don't write negative reviews.

Sure, there are books I don't like. One of the stated purposes of Craig's Book-ends is reviewing entire series of books as a whole (one volume at a time for series like The Dresden Files which go on indefinitely and all-at-once for series like The Kingkiller Chronicles which has a fixed end) to answer the question "Does it hold up to the end?" Since I am asking the question, I am prepared for the answer being "no". Every book I encounter won't end up on the blog and I won't be in love with every book here either. However, if I hate a book I'm not going to talk about it here. If the book simply was not for me then I'll leave it to all the people it works for. There is so much to talk about that the blog won't suffer if I don't explain why I dislike A Song of Ice and Fire. I know many, many visitors to this blog love the series and the Game of Thrones TV show. That's cool. I don't and why I don't does not matter.

I do love Roger Zelazny's Chronicles of Amber and I am going to talk about that here. I love Mark Lawrence's Broken Empire trilogy. You can bet that I'll be covering that one. I dig the hell out of Myke Cole and John Hornor Jacobs. I'll be talking about Daniel Polansky. More people should be talking about Daniel Polansky. George R.R. Martin is going to be fine without me. In fact, he'll never even notice my absence and I'd certainly do him no favors by complaining about a series that never was going to work for me to begin with. However, maybe one of these other folks will benefit by me telling you how great I think they are. Believe me, they really are great.

Back in March, I came across another blog post related to this topic. It's a great read. Apparently some reviewers can be really nasty. You're not going to get any of that here. If a series ends up poorer than it began, I'll tell you and I'll tell you why. As far as standalone books are concerned, if you see it here you will be reading about why I liked it not whether I liked it. Maybe I didn't like it all. Maybe it faltered occasionally. However, a post on Craig's Book-ends means that the book is something that deserves your time and attention. I came to praise Caesar, not bury him. There's been too much burying in this here town.

See you next time. Keep reading!

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