Inside Michelle’s Brain – Reviews and Reviewers

One of the first courses I ever took in college was a Comp. Lit. class. I am ashamed to admit I had no idea what a Comp. Lit. class was. I knew going into it that I had to read…a lot. It was not until I was halfway through the semester when I finally understood the purpose of the class. Comparative Literature – comparing various literary works throughout the centuries to each other in order to better understand the influences and relationships they have to one another. By the time I finished the course, I could see what the course was trying to teach me even as I was put off of reading classics for a while.

Food For Thought

After six years of blogging, I find myself thinking back to that particular class and marvel at how often I use the skills I did not think I learned while in school. It is second nature to compare one book to another. It helps keep all of the books I read organized in my brain and even gives me a point of reference for later recall. I compare novels while reading, in my reviews, or even describing the story to someone who may or may not be interested in reading it.

While this tendency to compare novels is second nature these days, I cannot help but wonder if it is fair. It is one thing to compare novels written by dead authors to understand the evolution of the novel throughout history. It is another thing to compare current novels, for we are not doing so to understand influences or relationships. We are doing so to set expectations or build publicity. In fact, this is exactly what publishing companies and marketing firms do with novels when they tout something as this year’s Gone Girl or the next The Hunger Games. The danger then lies in the fact that often, these comparisons backfire. After one or two novels which declare themselves to be the next BIG book of the year that turns out to be a dude, readers are less likely to believe that claim. Similarly, such comparisons can lead readers to set the bar so high that no novel could ever reach it. Case in point, you do not see publishers declaring books to be the next Harry Potter series, do you?

This whole topic then gets me wondering what the purpose of a review is. Should we judge books based on similar novels? Should we judge a book individually, on its own merits? When you read a lot, how do you avoid drawing comparisons between them all? How can you avoid comparing Divergent to The Hunger Games? Should you? Do you? Where is our responsibility as reviewers to avoid unfair comparisons that may bias readers before they even open the book?

Has anyone else thought about this? I’m curious what you think. Please share your thoughts in the comments!

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – 24 August 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? Button

Hosted by Sheila from Book Journey, this is a weekly event to share what we’ve read in the past week and what we hope to read, plus whatever else comes to mind. To learn more about each book, just click on the book cover! FINISHED SINCE THE LAST UPDATE: It’s slow-going these days as fall sports…

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Sunday Reflections – 23 August 2015

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Happy Sunday! No, I have not disappeared. Not yet anyway. This month has been absolutely brutal. I did not expect it to be like this at all, and it makes me very nervous about the school year. However, we survived last year. We can do it again, right? So, what has been keeping us busy? Well,…

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – 17 August 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? Button

Hosted by Sheila from Book Journey, this is a weekly event to share what we’ve read in the past week and what we hope to read, plus whatever else comes to mind. To learn more about each book, just click on the book cover! FINISHED SINCE THE LAST UPDATE: CURRENT READ: CURRENT LISTEN: Still chugging along. Ha….

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Book Review – The Fold by Peter Clines

The Fold by Peter Clines

Title: The Fold Author: Peter Clines ISBN: 9780553418293 No. of Pages: 384 Genre: Science Fiction Origins: The Crown Publishing Group Release Date: 2 June 2015 Synopsis: “Mike Erikson is one of the smartest people in America. And yet—for reasons nobody around him quite understands—he’s chosen to let the potential of his amazing intellect go untapped,…

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – 10 August 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? Button

Hosted by Sheila from Book Journey, this is a weekly event to share what we’ve read in the past week and what we hope to read, plus whatever else comes to mind. To learn more about each book, just click on the book cover! It’s been a slow reading week, not because the books I’m…

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Book Review – The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman

The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman

Title: The Book of Blood and Shadow Author: Robin Wasserman ISBN: 9780375868764 No. of Pages: 448 Genre: Young Adult; Thriller Origins: Mine. All mine. Release Date: 10 April 2012 Synopsis: “It was like a nightmare, but there was no waking up. When the night began, Nora had two best friends and an embarrassingly storybook one…

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A Very Special Day

At 8:32 AM 11 years ago today, I gave my heart away for the third time. As I watch my beautiful baby girl poised on the cusp of womanhood, there are not enough words to express how much having her for my daughter means to me. A very happy birthday to my own Holly.

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Book Review – Mother of Eden by Chris Beckett

Mother of Eden by Chris Beckett

Title: Mother of Eden Author: Chris Beckett ISBN: 9780804138703 No. of Pages: 480 Genre: Science Fiction Origins: The Crown Publishing Group Release Date: 12 May 2015 Synopsis: “Just a few generations ago, the planet’s five hundred inhabitants huddled together in the light and warmth of the Forest’s lantern trees, afraid to venture out into the…

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – 3 August 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? Button

Hosted by Sheila from Book Journey, this is a weekly event to share what we’ve read in the past week and what we hope to read, plus whatever else comes to mind. To learn more about each book, just click on the book cover! FINISHED SINCE THE LAST UPDATE: CURRENT READ: CURRENT LISTEN: This is a re-read…

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