12 September, 2009

Bona Fide: Weekly Roundup #37

Hello and welcome to a new issue of my Weekly Roundup. From a meteorological point of view, we are now in the third season of the year in Europe. Days are getting shorter, temperatures are decreasing, sky is gray. It is a time of melancholy. But not for me. Autumn is a wonderful season to spend time on the sofa with a pot of tea, cookies, and a pile of good books.

Books

I'm somewhat behind with reading book reviews. As you may know I like to read reviews about one book from different reviewers. For three months now I have been reading reviews of The Magicians (2009) [US] [UK], by Lev Grossman. And finally, this week, I ordered a paperback copy. The reasons are simple: First I read Jame's review which finally convinced me that I have to read this book. Second the paperback will be available in Germany soon. I hope I don't expect too much out of the book. On the right you see the UK cover:
Quentin Coldwater is brilliant but miserable. He's a senior in high school, and a certifiable genius, but he's still secretly obsessed with a series of fantasy novels he read as a kid, about the adventures of five children in a magical land called Fillory. Compared to that, anything in his real life just seems gray and colorless. Everything changes when Quentin finds himself unexpectedly admitted to a very secret, very exclusive college of magic in upstate New York, where he receives a thorough and rigorous education in the practice of modern sorcery. He also discovers all the other things people learn in college: friendship, love, sex, booze, and boredom. But something is still missing. Magic doesn't bring Quentin the happiness and adventure he thought it would. Then, after graduation, he and his friends make a stunning discovery: Fillory is real.
Blogosphere

This week I read Waking the Dragon: George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire a wonderful post by Jo Walton. I really appreciate the term “IWantToReadItosity” (I-want-to-read-it) which she explains very well by using A Song of Ice and Fire (ASOIAF) as an example. I know there are people who don't read ASOIAF because it is not finished yet. I tell you that you definitely missing something. I still highly recommend to read ASOAIF. And don't forget to visit the best ASOAIF website: Westeros

Do you know clonehenges? I know Stonehenge and I hope I get the opportunity to go there at some point in my life. Clonehenge is a new artifical word. It is the combination of clone and henge. So you like to see some clonehenges? Then follow this link: Clonehenges: 20 Creative Recreations of Stonehenge. Hope you like it as much as I did.

Outrage of the week

Yes, this is a new section in my Roundup. When you follow several blogs then you know that there are heated discussions from time to time.

This week it all began with an interview over at Temple Library Reviews. Paul Stotts from Blood of the Muse gave the following statement about reviews and book ratings:
I think writing a review, and not giving it some sort of numerical score is a cop out; it’s cowardice—pure and simple—since many online reviewers don’t want to upset publishers or authors. So they write reviews that are open to interpretation, using nebulous terms like good, overemphasizing the positive aspects of the book, trying very hard not to have an opinion. It’s okay, you’re entitled to have an opinion, you’re entitled to take a stand and let people know what you think.

See, words lie; numbers don’t. And I don’t want to lie to my audience. So I score every book on a scale of 100. Like any review, the number is completely subjective; there are no underlying components. I score books by ranking them against other novels I’ve read in the genre. It’s rather simple. But effective.
As you can imagine it didn't take long until the first replies popped up. You will get links to some of the answers later. After reading Paul's statement, I wanted to leave a comment immediately. But then I thought it may be better to calm down first. And finally, I decided to share my thoughts with you in my Roundup.

People tend to categorize and rate nearly everything. It makes life much easier. Easier in the way they have to think and read less. Nobody is free of it; even me. But when it comes to books and book reviews I raise my voice and I say NO. I am well known for reading reviews in order to get more information about a book to support my decision whether to buy and read it, or not. That means I want to read a short summary, an explanation about the likes/dislikes from the reviewer, and appreciate a link to an excerpt. I can't get this information from a numerical rating.

It is definitely wrong that numbers don't lie. Numbers are just a replacement for words in case of book ratings. A 100/100 rating is the replacement for perfect book... So why should this be a lie?

As far as I can see, the main reasons for this outrage is the offense (cowardice) and the insinuation of brown-nosing among reviewers (they lie to their readers and they are submissive to publishers and authors). To be honest you can discuss and share different opinions, but to offend and insult people is poor form and entirely unhelpful.

Finally, it is up to us (blogger are also readers) whether we prefer numerical ratings or not. But you can be sure that I won't use numerical ratings of books on this blog.

Statements from other blogger:
James from Speculative Horizons,
Gav from NextRead,
Larry from OF Blog,
Aidan from A Dribble of Ink,
Dark Wolf from Dark Wolf's Fantasy Reviews,
The whole team from Fantasy Book Critic,
Jeff from Fantasy Book News and Reviews,
Joe from Adventures In Reading

Quotes

A few days ago I finished reading The Loch (2006) [US] [UK] by Steve Alten. It is about Loch Ness in Scotland. I'm sure you read or heard about Nessie. The depiction of the Loch Ness itself and the surroundings is awesome. Look at this picture gallery and you know why I want to visit Loch Ness, as well as Stonehenge. This week, instead of quotes, I decided to delight you with a few Scottish proverbs.

"Twelve highlanders and a bagpipe make a rebellion.

"Money is flat and was meant to be piled up.

"They talk of my drinking but never my thirst.

"Be happy while you're living, for you're a long time dead.

"The day has eyes, the night has ears.

"To marry is to halve your rights and double your duties.

"What may be done at any time will be done at no time.

16 comments:

ediFanoB said...

Today my wife and I visited a medieval market. It was a pleasure as always. We really enjoyed a concert of Scottish band Saor Patrol. Visit the site and listen to the music. Incredible sound of three drummers and one bagpipe player. We couldn't withstand and bought the CD FULL THROTTLE [US] [UK]. That fits perfectly to my Roundup.

Donna [Fantasy Dreamer's Ramblings] said...

I'd seen the Paul's comment and the outrage that resulted from it. I believe anyone can lie in numbers or words when rating. I'd like to hope this isn't happening *shrugs* but I'm not going to worry about it. I don't use a number or star rating either and it's not because I'm afraid to, it's because they are subject to interpretation plus I don't feel comfortable using them. Oh, well - not going to beat this to death. Everyone just needs to do what is comfortable with themselves.

Sounds like you and your wife had a wonderful day. Have a nice weekend!

ediFanoB said...

Donna,
thank you for your comment. I agree with you that everyone just needs to do what is comfortable with themselves. But as soon as you talk about other people you must accept that they reply. And as I wrote: "To be honest you can discuss and share different opinions, but to offend and insult people is poor form and entirely unhelpful."

Indeed my wife and I had a wonderful day. I forgot to mention that we even had lovely weather. Sunshine, some clouds and pleasant temperature.
Have a nice weekend too.

Christine said...

Usually I'd agree with the statement that numbers don't lie, but when they're completely subjective with no basis, then that's a ridiculous claim. A review can give an opinion in no uncertain terms without a numerical rating if the reviewer chooses... I would think anyone who chooses to write book reviews would have a large enough vocabulary to express themselves. However, it might be interesting or even enlightening to give books numerical scores that depend on certain set criteria.

Alec and I saw a signed copy of The Magicians at the bookstore yesterday- maybe if you enjoy it he'll do another giveaway! just an idea...

Also as for the proverbs, I don't know how I feel about you putting those ideas about marriage into my boyfriend's head :)

Dave said...

Everyone is touched differently by a book. That's one reason I wouldn't give too much stock to number ratings. When I was a kid, I remember being outraged that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (the movie) got panned by several reviewers. But it was perfect for its target market, and I loved it at the time.

So when it comes to books, I prefer to read someone's reasoning and see why they did or didn't like it. If it agrees with my likes/dislikes in a book, I'll buy (or not) based on their review. But if I don't think the same way as the blogger, I certainly will ignore their review, regardless what numerical value they rate the book!

ediFanoB said...

Christine,
thank you for comment.

To develop numerical scores that depend on certain set criteria takes a lot of time when you want to do it proper. I don't eant to spend time on this. But maybe there are other people who will do this.

There are definitely two books on my reading list for next month: "The Magicians" by Lev Grossman and the ARC of "Burn Me Deadly" by Alex Bledsoe. And I will review them both. So I like the idea of an other giveaway....

To be honest if quotes about marriage will hinder Alec to marry you then there is something wrong with him ;-)
Christiane and I are married since 1991 and I know a lot more quotes about marriage.

The following quotes are just the other way round. Tell them to Alec every day. Write them on a piece of paper and put the paper under his pillow......

"That is what marriage really means: helping one another to reach the full status of being persons, responsible and autonomous beings who do not run away from life." - Paul Tournier

"A great marriage is not when the 'perfect couple' comes together. It is when an imperfect couple learns to enjoy their differences." - Dave Meurer

"Women and men have to fight together to change society - and both will benefit... Partnership, not dependence, is the real romance in marriage." Muriel Fox

"What is right for one couple is wrong for another. I would say that there are many more important factors to a happy marriage." - Elizabeth Aston

"A good marriage is one which allows for change and growth in the individuals and in the way they express their love." - Pearl Buck

ediFanoB said...

Dave,
thank you for sharing your thoughts about book rating. Our thoughts are close.
In the end a review can't be more than an argument during your decision making whether to read a book or not.

Harry Markov: daydream said...

Oh Michael, you forgot to link my response as well. :_ Though I think I missed a couple of these. Thanks for the links.

ediFanoB said...

Harry,

I'm sorry but I didn't link all comments from other blogger. But you may have noticed that I linked the interview.

Harry Markov: daydream said...

Yeah, I know. I am just spoiled like that. I was pouting in pretend mode. :) Don't take it seriously. The goof in me sometimes can't help himself.

Kevin said...

I really enjoyed "The Magicians". I defiantly recommend picking it up.

ediFanoB said...

Kevin,
I really look forward to read it. And like feedback like yours. That means it has been worth to post about the book.

Geophile said...

If you liked that post about Clonehenges, please know that most of it was taken from the Clonehenge blog at http://replicahenge.wordpress.com/, an ongoing blog about Stonehenge replicas of all sizes and materials, permanent or temporary, in all parts of the world.

ediFanoB said...

Geophile,
thank you very much for your comment. I didn't know the Clonehenge blog before. Of course I liked all these replicas. Therefore I added the blog to my google reader.

thetruebookaddict said...

I totally agree with you about using a rating system. I refuse to do it because--and I've said this before--books are like people. There is at least one good thing (usually) that can be said about them. If you slap a number on it, it just seems all pat and that's it...no room for discussion. The whole purpose of a book blog, imo, is to encourage the discussion of books. Numerical ratings, whether it be stars or cats (LOL), being number related (like, yuck, math) have no place beside the written word.

ediFanoB said...

thetruebookaddict,
thank you for your comment.

Good to read that we have the same opinion about book ratings.

I had a look at your profile. You like cats as I do. We have two cats at home: A he-cat named Pablo and a she-cat named Lili (pictures).

I added your blog to my google reader and now I'm a follower of your blog.