Recently, I finished reading a book that I absolutely loved. I loved it so much I already knew it would be one of my favorites of the year. And I went and did what I usually do, go to Goodreads, mark it as Read, rate it, and check what other people thought about it.
Turns out, this book isn’t wildly loved as I thought it would. The reviews weren’t terrible, but I was expecting a much higher rating percentage. I thought this book would be universal. Alas, it isn’t and I was a little disappointed by that.
But one thing I did notice when I was looking at ratings and reading reviews is that I paid less attention to what people thought and how that reflected on me. In the past, I would gripe over negative reviews for a book I liked because I thought maybe I missed something. I’ve doubted myself and my ability to read comprehensively for so long that every time I read a book that I really loved and people didn’t, I thought there was something wrong with me. Yeah, welcome to my insecurity.
This time, things were different. I looked at the reviews, reviewed the ratings, and none of it changed the way I felt about the book. I still love it. I don’t think what the reviewers said was wrong, but I also took what they said with a grain of salt and let me tell you, this was a first.
Reading books is an extremely unique experience. While you may find people in your book club or online who feel the same way you do about the book, there’s also that group of people who didn’t feel the same way. The varying degrees on how people feel changes depending on the person, their experiences, their life up to that point. And all of it is valid.
Because there’s no one way to read a book, you’re going to read based on how you (as an individual) experience life. If you’ve suffered through some traumatic event, you’ll approach a book that features a similar event differently than someone who hasn’t. If you’re the falling in love type, you may feel differently than someone who’s never been in love. And when you go to write your review and share your opinions on the book, it’s going to be different in a few ways than the ways other people have read it and that’s just such an interesting perspective! Collectively, our opinions together give other readers an idea of the book. While some may drag a book for its negative aspects, others will look past them and see the truer story behind that. And that’s also where we find our common ground. By sharing our opinions regardless how vastly different it is, we’re able to connect with others in an interesting manner. Isn’t conversation and debate one of the reasons why we like to read in the first place?
No opinion is wrong because it’s exactly that, your opinion. Of course, I don’t mean to discount critical opinions when an author doesn’t do justice to a certain group of people, includes racist/sexist rhetoric, or bullies people, but I mean the ways you fell in love with the book and the ways you hated it. It will be your opinion and yours alone and the beauty of holding that opinion out there is reflected in the number of people you find who think the same thing.
So don’t feel embarrassed if you liked the book everyone hated. Don’t feel bad if the book everyone recommended you didn’t work for you. All you can do is read the opinions of others, see their perspectives, compare it to your own, and then move on. There’s no dark judgments on you because of what you thought. It’s just you out there, with your thoughts on a book, telling others how you felt too.