Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Discussion: Opinions on Books Changing Over Time

Feel free to just jump down to the discussion questions, they're kind of the TL;DR version of the post anyway. 

So I'm beginning to realise that, in hindsight, a lot of books aren't as awesome as they seemed at the time I read and reviewed them. I think this is how I can really tell whether or not a book is truly a favourite: if it stands the test of time.

There are books that I love, and I love them when I first read them, I love them days and weeks after I've finished them and still continue to love them months and years later - the YAYOMGILOVETHATBOOK! feeling stays with me and I still feel it when I think about the book now or see it mentioned. But then... there's a lot of books that had that initial good reaction and it faded with time.

There's books that I really enjoyed and then weeks/months/a year later, I've found myself having basically forgotten all about the book or having kind of...meh-feelings towards it.

I'm not sure if this is because the books just aren't as good as they intially seemed or not. Maybe those books are just the kind of books that I can enjoy in the moment without overthinking it but once I've had some time to think about them, I see flaws that I overlooked or the good things don't seem as likeable as they did at first.

Or maybe it's that my mood plays a bigger impact on my enjoyment of a book than I realised. I'm a mood reader and sometimes I crave a certain genre or something and any book that can satisfy that craving will get a more positive reaction from me than it would have had I been in any other mood. And then, when my mood changes, my feelings on the book change too - it served its purpose, but didn't stick with me beyond that.

I normally review a book pretty soon after I finish reading it. I like reviewing when the feelings I got while reading it were still fresh in my mind. I'm not sure which would be the more reliable review: that initial reaction--the immediate feelings from reading the book--or a review written after I've had some distance from the book, some time to think about it and let my emotions settle and my mood change.

When I write a review of a book, I mean the things I say... at the time. But then, there's a few books that I've reviewed really positively that, if I'm honest, I would review differently if I were re-reviewing them now. 4-5 star books could be bumped down to 3 stars. 3-4 star books closer to 2.5. (There's also some rare cases where I view a book more positively after having some time to think about it than I did while actually reading it.)

This post is a bit rambling, sorry. Basically, I just wanted to know:

1. Do you find your opinions of books change after a while?

2. Which reviews do you prefer: ones written on instinct, going purely off of the feelings a person had while reading the book or... ones that have had more time to stew, emotions have had time to settle? Or do both have their merits?

3. And, out of curiosity, what are some books that are still as awesome to you now as they were when you first read them? 

I'll answer 3 to end this post on a more positive note:

Any book by Melina Marchetta or John Green. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys, Nevermore by Kelly Creagh, A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, Like Water for Chocolate by Laurra Esquivel, Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, Stolen by Lucy Christopher, The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson... and I'll stop there, because it is a long list. I recommend all of these books (if you're not new to the blog, you probably know that already though since I recommend them pretty frequently).

Later.

9 comments:

  1. 1. I do find that sometimes, after a long period of not reading the book, that when I decide, "Hey, I'm going to reread this!" I usually end up disappointed. I find that my feelings about them change.

    2. How the review is written doesn't make much of a difference to me, as long as the whole review isn't written JUST on feelings. There needs to be some in depth "This was good, this sucked" information in it just so it can influence whether or not I'd read it. If it's all, "OH MY GOSH THIS IS AWESOME!!!!" then... well, what's awesome to you may not be awesome to me.

    3. I'll just name a few series/books that still have yet to lose their first-time-reading feel: Harry Potter, Vampire Academy, Pretty Little Liars, Divergent, Pendragon, Paranormalcy, Midnighters, Fallen, The Mortal Instruments, any book by John Green, Jellicoe Road... there's so many.

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  2. 1. Do you find your opinions of books change after a while?
    They do and I often find the book to be not a great as I thought it was, sometimes the faults are not enough to affect the rating but other times a book could lose a star especially if I initially had it as a 5 or 4 star book. This weekend I finished a book and gave it three stars but the more I thought about it the more I disliked the book and now I hate it and it’s down to two stars. I think it’s sort of like having a crush or the beginnings of a relationship your so caught up in all the good stuff that you’re blind to the faults until you get some time to yourself and realize that person/book wasn’t so perfect after all.

    2. Which reviews do you prefer: ones written on instinct, going purely off of the feelings a person had while reading the book or... ones that have had more time to stew, emotions have had time to settle? Or do both have their merits?
    Well when I read a review I don’t know if the person just finished the book ten minutes ago or ten months ago so I don’t know which reviews I actually prefer from experience but I think I would prefer reviews that have been stewing in the person’s head for a bit that way I get a better idea if the book is not only a good read but a keeper.

    3. And, out of curiosity, what are some books that are still as awesome to you now as they were when you first read them?
    I haven’t re-read a book since I’ve started blogging I think, I have no time with all these new books all over the place but books I still think are awesome from memory are Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor, the Skulduggery Pleasant series by Derek Landy, Harry Potter of course and the Bartimeaus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud which I read back in high school.

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    Replies
    1. True@the reviews left to stew for a while.

      I think one of the reasons I find it difficult to do that is because I forget details of books pretty quickly and I've found that sometimes leaving myself to think about a book for a while can cause me to overthink and sometimes be overly critical of it.

      I don't really re-read books now either, although there's a bunch I'd like too, but there's some that even just thinking of them now gives me the, "And THAT is why I love reading." kind of feeling.

      I forgot all about Skulduggery Pleasant - I've only read the first book, I keep meaning to read the rest, it was really cute and original and fun. :)

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  3. Gosh, what an amazing discussion question! I think I'm going to have to write a whole post on this one, because it perfectly describes the book related problems I'm going through right now :) I'll link back once it's all written out!

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  4. I would hope they would change after a while. As you grow your tastes morph. If I still liked the same exact books I did when I was 16 I'd be rather emotionally stunted. It's only natural for your tastes to change.

    I write my reviews as close to reading the books as I can. My memory is too terrible for much else. I'd prefer more of a knee-jerk review simply because if you have to read a book again or sit and stew over something then it's not really your initial reaction. Am I going to like it or not? I don't want to have to read it more than once. I don't want to have to dissect a plot element to get it. Will I like it?

    I don't often read books multiple times just because my pile's huge but I love Ilsa Bick and Cinda Chima. Those won't die for me.

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    Replies
    1. I didn't really mean tastes changing, I meant more... after I read a book, if I think of it a few weeks or months later, I sometimes don't think of it as positively. It's like having some hindsight and having time to think makes the positives seem less positive or the negatives more negative and my overall opinion of the book changes.

      Basically, sometimes I'll love a book and so my review will reflect that but if I had left the review for a little while, giving that initial flood of positive emotions to die down a little then I'd probably review it differently.

      Another commenter said she would prefer reviews that have been stewing for a little while because then it shows whether a book is just a good read or a keeper and that's kind of what I meant.

      If I think of one of my favourite books, like Jellicoe Road for example, and I wrote a review of it now then my review would be just as positive as it was when I first reviewed it (and I don't mean rereading first, I'm just talking general opinion of the book)...but then, there's some books that were entertaining at the time I read them, they got a positive review but if I rereviewed them now then the review would be less positive.

      Sorry, this comment is a bit rambling, I just wanted to clarify what I was trying to say in the post. :)

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  5. Sometimes my thoughts do change. There are a few books I remember reading and LOVINGGGG but upon re-read I was like "well yah it's good, but not as good as I remember". But then there are the great books that stand the test of the re-read. I think that shows that mood and maybe even opinion of the book at the time really do determine our thoughts and ratings.

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  6. 1. Do you find your opinions of books change after a while?
    Yes! This has been happening a lot more as of late than normally and it makes me a little sad!

    2. Which reviews do you prefer: ones written on instinct, going purely off of the feelings a person had while reading the book or... ones that have had more time to stew, emotions have had time to settle? Or do both have their merits?
    Personally, ones that have taken some time to really get the impact of the book through. After some time, that's when the real feelings *in my opinion* come through. If I read a book today, I take some time before I write my review because I don't know if I'm going to love it in some time. It takes time for my feelings to really be solid enough to write about. But even than they change.

    3. And, out of curiosity, what are some books that are still as awesome to you now as they were when you first read them?
    Stephanie Perkins books, Harry Potter, anything by John Green, most Meg Cabot's because I know what to expect from her writing (in a good way of course) and more which I won't list!

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