Sunday, February 12, 2017

Week 5 Prompt

Looking at the reviews for the romance title, I have to say, I don’t really trust either of them. While I have no reason to disbelieve their reviews, they are both fairly informal and the blog review even goes so far as to use text abbreviations such as “lol.” Again though, that’s pretty commonplace dialogue these days and it is a blog after all, their very nature is relatively informal.

I think this directly speaks to how confusing a genre like romance can be for collection development. For a while, I was in charge of purchasing digital audiobooks for a library system. I distinctly remember receiving the advice to “just buy the romance” because it’s what the people want. Basically, it was heavily implied that it didn’t matter how ridiculous the title may look, it makes no difference when it comes to collection development. That advice always sat wrong in my brain, but I think it speaks directly to the conundrum of these titles. While I agree that the titles should be purchased, the suggestion that I not even bother trying to find “good” titles seemed wrong.

By comparison, the reviews for Angela’s Ashes seem incredibly reliable. They are all from respected sources and include more formal reviews and information. Setting aside my personal aversion to depressing literature (which I highly suspect to be applicable to Angela’s Ashes,) I would be very likely to add this title not only to a personal reading list, but I’d have no trouble adding it to a library collection as well.

I have to assume that many people like to “shame” romance readers. It’s not seen as worthwhile, perhaps, or it’s viewed as lowbrow. I say, who are we to judge? That said, I still do some selection for collection development and reviews are my lifeline. While I’d love to buy everything, that’s just not possible. The reviews help me decide when a decision needs to happen.

To that end, I don’t approve of review sources that steer clear of negative content. I understand not wanting to be brutal to an author, but how can we take the reviews seriously if the scale starts at “good” and only goes up from there? Surely, not every published book deserves these accolades. And that’s okay. By staying honest, the review source gains reliability, reinforcing all the positive reviews they’ve supplied over time.

For collection development, I prefer to use Kirkus, School Library Journal, and Booklist. However, for personal reading recommendations, I hardly ever consult these resources. For personal reads, I stick to more informal sources like Good Reads or bloggers and social media users. Both types of reviews have their place. Being able to read between the lines and glean the kernel of truth the author was after is simply good reading comprehension. While I have no reason to believe romance novels will be taken seriously any time soon, just as I doubt a horror film will ever win a “Best Picture” Oscar, I still think they are both worthwhile and deserving of respect.

1 comment: