Saturday, 22 February 2014

Diverse Opinions

One of the things that is simultaneously fascinating and frustrating about books is that our opinions on them are so subjective.

It's fascinating because with a large enough sample size a book can be considered by one person to be their favourite book of all time, while another regards it as the worst book they've ever read.

It's frustrating because you can be really looking forward to your next read because of all the hype surrounding it and be left feeling lukewarm about the whole thing.

Sometimes you have to wonder, are we all reading the same book?

We are, of course, but our individual tastes are so varied what appeals to some is the biggest turn off for others.

Still, we try and try and try to surround ourselves with like-minded people. We push our favourites upon others, hoping they'll love it as much as we did. We can be devastated when these favourites are not well received.

The reason I mention this is because of one of the people I follow on Goodreads. I've followed her for a long while now, since long before I really had much awareness about the online book blogging community. At first, I followed her reviews because she was well read and posted reviews often. Now, I continue to follow her because we have almost diametrically opposite tastes in books.

That seems a little odd, right? Books I love, she tends to hate. The first time this happened, I was pretty wounded. How could she trash this book I loved like that? In a fit of angst that was not at all age appropriate, I considered unfollowing her out of spite.

Like that would've done anything other than make me feel childishly vindicated. With over 7000 friends and followers my absence wouldn't have been noticed.

I decided to cool down instead. Let it pass. When it happened again, I swallowed my pride and read through the scathing review carefully. To my surprise, I realized that I understood her complaints. The problems she pointed out were reasonable, and upon reflection I could see where she was coming from. It was just that those aspects hadn't bothered me in the slightest.


We get worked up when people speak poorly about the things we love and enjoy. As we should. But we also tend to take things far too personally. Poor reviews aren't an attack or a reflection of the people who enjoy them. They're simply a reminder that we're all individuals.

I still follow this person on Goodreads. Hilariously, when I'm interested in reading a book and see that she's rated it poorly, I'm that much more willing to add it to my tbr. Since we have such opposite tastes. This method has worked out surprisingly well for the most part.

It's also interesting to note that the reverse isn't always true. There have been a few times when I've checked out a book she's loved only to be indifferent towards it. Most of the time, I've really enjoyed the books she praises highly. And more than that, they tend to be a different sort of book than something I might have checked out on my own.

And therein lies my point: diversity.

It's good to be surrounded by people who have similar tastes. But sometimes I think we get too comfortable in our little bubbles like this. With everyone reading and liking and recommending similar types of books, it can almost feel like a little bit of a circle jerk at times. Or, at least, that's been my experience.

By being open to the opinions of people with different tastes, it can also open up the doors to books, authors and genres that you may never have considered before. I discovered one of my favourite authors because I followed my seemingly polar opposite on Goodreads.

Sure, this won't always work. Sometimes people's tastes are just too different. And you shouldn't continually subject yourself to reading that is just not your thing.

But I think it's equally as important to give it a try. To step outside of that safety bubble, your comfort zone, and see something different.

What do you think about all of this? Let me know!