If I start writing now, when I'm not really rested, it could upset my thinking, which is not good at all
I have to write a review tonight, and deliver it orally to my librarians' review group [of which I am the chair-elect] tomorrow morning. It's 11:30 PM now. I remember this feeling: it's the lovely Homework Procrastination Panic I thought I'd seen the last of when I finished school. Hah!
Why did I ever pick up this book with its little "oral review" slip and fill the slip out? Why did I agree to be chair-elect? [I ran unopposed, I was recruited by the current chair, no one else wanted the job.] And why, oh why, did I not jot down my thoughts on this somewhat difficult book right after I read it? I always mean to. I hardly ever do. I don't know how those other people do it, the ones who show up month after month with a dozen or more completed reviews. Maybe they don't have children? Maybe they don't have a blogging addiction? [I'd be willing to bet on that one.] Maybe they have a tiny smidgen more self-discipline than I do? Yeah, that's probably it.
And this book is the hardest kind to review: it's not terrible, it's not great, it's not even mediocre, it's just... off. I started out thinking I was going to like it, and then it went on too long and was too rambly, and there were some cringe-inducing elements that overshadowed the rest of it for me. But it's not exactly bad. When I think about the author and publishers reading it, I want to be kind: it's well-written, in a working-hard-at-my-craft kind of way; it's on an important subject; some kids will probably like it. And goddess knows it is a book, and I notice I haven't written any of those myself, so who am I to throw stones at this author's painstakingly constructed glass edifice?
But of course that line of thinking is bad bad news when you're reviewing a book: when I think of my fellow-librarians depending on me for advice on whether to buy it, I want to say: don't! It's long; it's got a flat tone that put me off; and the author doesn't seem to know what age group she's writing for. Also, the cover is drab and no kid will willingly pick it up.
On the other hand, what if it wins some big award after I've panned it? I'll be embarrassed forever, like those publishers who rejected Hemingway or whoever. [Not that anyone aside from these few dozen librarians and the publisher will ever read my review. But still.]
And, even worse, what if it is really good, and I was just in a bad mood when I read it and so couldn't see its inherent quality? What if I'm a shallow, bitter person, and can't appreciate great literature when it kicks me in the face? What if [horrors] I have to read it again, all 172 pages, just to make sure?
Can't do that. Nope. Can't read it again.
I am steadfastly resisting the temptation to pop over to Amazon and see what other people think about it. Amazon: the book reviewer's Cliff Notes. No: I will prevail! I will be brutally honest on paper, while still acknowledging the book's good points! And I will go start...now.