BJ Hoff has a great post over on her blog Grace Notes about the difference between a review and an opinion. I thought it was good advice, especially for those of us who are reviewing for Mind and Media. Here are a couple quotes from Ms. Hoff:
Some folks set themselves up as ‘experts’ and share freely their opinions on the work of certain writers, or more commonly, a particular genre or, in some cases, an entire industry, such as CBA. But when their opinions are questioned or scrutinized or challenged-or ignored–they don’t seem to understand why, and even occasionally become contentious.
I’m convinced that a clear understanding of what opinion is meant to be and what a review actually is could go far in dispelling some of the confusion and misunderstanding and resulting tension that seem to be clouding the blogosphere. And then writers like me could spend more time on writing our books instead of tiresome blog posts like this.
Some things to remember:
When reviewing a book, you are reviewing that book. It is not the appropriate time or place to criticize the author’s whole catalog of books or a publishing house’s whole list of authors or other books they may have published.
Personal attacks against an author or publisher are never warranted.
Remember that it is possible to not enjoy a book that is well-written. People have different tastes, and just because you don’t like it does not mean it wasn’t crafted well.
I haven’t seen any instances of this on any of the Mind and Media reviewer’s blogs, so this is not aimed at any one person or blog. I wanted to remind myself, as much as anyone, what our job is.
Anyone else out there have ideas for reviewing guidelines that I might have missed? I’m sure there are, I just mentioned the few that came immediately to mind.
Also, go check out the rest of Ms. Hoff’s post. It’s well worth reading.