To many this seems like a ridiculous question. Why do you read?
Does it matter why? Just do it.
This very discussion topic has come up for me in so many different contexts. Elitism exists in practically every sphere, and you know what? It does not only exist in schools, in workplaces, in the types of clothes you buy or whether it comes to race and religion. No, unfortunately it is everywhere. I'm particularly saddened to see it in the arts.
But reading? Yes, there certainly are elitist readers as well.
The question of 'why I read' actually recently came to mind over the topic of reviews. Now, I never used to review stories, but was always an avid reader. Recently I've realised the greatness of reviews. Yes, to promote for the author after all their hard work. Yes, to allow the author to know what you liked and what you didn't like if they are wanting to self-reflect on their work. (This is why I particularly love constructive reviews). And yes, as I've begun to write I've also realised how wonderful it is to support an author's work.
So someone I know was having a read of the reviews that I've had a go at doing recently, and before I knew it, I was getting slammed.
"How did you give THAT book a five star, and THAT book only a three? What's the matter with you? Clearly you don't know what you're doing, or you don't know how to appreciate good literature."
Now this made me mad. Really mad.
I am not writing reviews as a sideline to critiquing. I'm not going to pull someone's work apart with a microscope unless they ask me to. I'm not a professional editor. Yes, I have done some editing for authors on occasion, and yes I enjoy doing it. I'm happy to do it. That's not the purpose of an Amazon or Goodreads review. I'm not there to gain points with anybody. I'm not there to promote my own critiquing style. I'm there to say "did I enjoy this book? If so, why?"
It may seem as though I have digressed, but trust me, I have not. Why I leave the kind of reviews is directly related to why I read.
If I'm reading to get the red pen out - well, then yes, perhaps I would leave more intellectual reviews. If I'm only wanting to read books that challenge my mind in particular ways, then yes, I would probably have lower ratings for some and higher for others. If I only like stories of a particular writing style, genre or 'literary level' then yes. I probably would be much more scathing.
I'm not going for scathing. If I ever get a job as an editor or professional reviewer (hey, I'll never say never, but likelihood does not seem high) then things might change.
But if I read for enjoyment, to enhance or influence a mood, to get lost in a story, to allow an author to tell me a story and to see if they were successful in taking me on a journey and introducing me to their characters then that is what my review will be about.
To an extent, I probably read for all the above reasons and many more. But what will you get if I review your story?
You will get a honest idea of whether I enjoyed it, how much, and why I did or didn't like it. Why I would or wouldn't recommend it to other people. For goodness sake, I thought that was what reviews were for. I will try my hardest not to simply say 'I loved it' or 'I hated it'.
If you want something more, feel free to ask.
Thanks for reading. There's a couple of new pictures in the gallery. Examples of this week's big challenge - exploring the creation of abstract painting