I’ve often said that as an unhealthy habit, hoarding books is not as bad as it could be. There are far worse vices after all. I mean, they’re BOOKS, right?! They’re full of wonderful stories and knowledge and *feels*! And they’re not too bad to look at either 😉 So I am by no means critiquing buying books… that would make me a massive hypocrite if nothing else 😉
HOWEVER lately I’ve been wondering about the extremes of consumerism in the book community. I see people coveting far, far too many books- more than anyone in their right mind can afford. I see silly quotes online like “Before you turn 30 you should have more books than you could possibly read in a lifetime”. Not only does that fail to appreciate that most people don’t have that sort of disposable income, but it also raises the question: should we really be encouraging people to bankrupt themselves for books they have no intention of reading?!
It’s no wonder that people feel left behind. If you don’t have your own rainbow-bookshelf library, if you don’t have ten collectors copies of all the latest books, if you don’t have every. single. new release… well then you’re never gonna keep up with the Joneses, are you? And that will never do 😉
I can hardly blame people for deciding to forgo book buying altogether, choosing to utilise libraries (yay!) and go the minimalist route (oof). Something I could hardly commit to- I love buying books far too much!
And, to be fair, it’s not so hard for me to justify my purchases (I’m supporting authors! The editors! The artists! The industry!) Sooo perhaps there is a happy medium to be had between coveting ALL THE BOOKS and stripping your shelves bare. Perhaps we can recognise that consumerism goes too far and also be alright supporting our favourite authors. Perhaps we can choose to be more mindful about the books that make it onto our shelves rather than just shoving another paperback on that we never intend to read just because it has a pretty cover…
Okay, who am I kidding? I still want ALL THE BOOKS! 😉
Well that was inconclusive on my part! Maybe you can shed more light on the topic- has consumerism gone too far in the book community? Do you try to cut back on your book-buying habits? Let me know in the comments!
Last post I talked about some weird and wonderful books I love- so today I’m talking more about why I’m consistently drawn to unusual stories. From Alice in Wonderland to Endgame, these are the stories with staying power. I’m drawn to them for some inexplicable reasons… and some reasons I’m going to try and explain right now! Here’s why I enjoy some wacky stories…
They’re unexpected! And who doesn’t love *surprises*! (okay, I don’t always love surprises, but they can sometimes be a good thing- like a surprise puppy or a book you didn’t expect to be quite that good rocking your world).
Because they’re so different and stand out from the crowd, they’re all themore memorable. I read plenty of books I can’t place and don’t remember all that well- but unusual stories stick in my mind more (hopefully for a good reason 😉).
They take you out of this world- and isn’t that half the point of losing yourself in a book? One of the things I love about absurd or weird or strange books is how they force you to lose yourself in a truly fantastical reality. You have to forget what you know- or what you think you know- and accept the world the author is presenting you with.
And because of that, they make you see things from an entirely new perspective. When books are different, it’s a special opportunity to see the world from a whole new angle. It’s an opportunity to think and reflect on our own reality.
All this gives us greater clarity about the world we live in. Sometimes it takes seeing our world from the strangest of viewpoints to fully understand what’s going on around us (and then we realise everything’s just a bit nuts!)
But what do you think? Do you enjoy absurd stories? Or are they not for you? Let me know in the comments!
It’s free speech week again… and I’m feeling stumped. Not just because my inactivity on twitter means I’m not privy to the latest gossip of who’s been cancelled. And not because I’m out of ideas. It’s because when I think about this topic, I feel my heart sink. Because not much has changed in the years since I’ve been writing about this topic. Authors are cancelled, threatened and attacked by the “virtuous” online… and too few seem willing to stand up to them.
More and more, I’ve observed the culture of fear that exists in publishing and writing communities around the world. Say or write the “wrong” thing and your career will be over (sometimes before it has begun). Heck, you don’t even have to say or do anything at all. Sometimes, as was the case with Zhao, you can write a book that no one in their right mind would deem offensive and be cancelled just because the mob was hungry that week.
A lot of the time, people deny that anyone gets cancelled at all (never mind those who have lost their jobs or had contracts cancelled) because some people are too successful for them to destroy. Which actually says a lot about them and not about those they wish to cancel- imagine seeing it as a mark of success to destroy someone’s life and measure your success by how much you’ve made them suffer!!
When I voice my fears (on a personal level) I have been told to just ignore it and carry on. Don’t engage. Don’t worry. Don’t think about it. But the problem is not speaking about it gives one group of people all the power. And those people seem very happy to use that power like a battering ram.
Honestly, I don’t blame people for letting it go under the rug. It’s become such an insidious part of online culture that no one talks about it anymore. It’s there, we know it’s there and there’s nothing we can do about it.
… Except that there is. Instead of going along with the crowd when someone tries to ban a book, you can lead a silent rebellion and read it for yourself. You can review it, you can share it, you can quietly display it without comment (if you happen to work in a library and happen to have a lot of Salman Rushdie books to hand 😉). Read the books that are dangerous, that are questionable (or even that were written by a dead Russian because somehow that’s offensive too). No one can crush creativity forever if you refuse to comply. Go forth and read naughty books! 😉
What do you think? Am I being too pessimistic? Or hyperbolic? Let me know in the comments below!
So George R R Martin has put his foot in it again. Recently he has slammed fans as “toxic” for not being best pleased with the Game of Thrones ending. It is often such implied that those who do not like what showrunners or writers do are not real fans. We’ve been here before with the entitled fans debate– but really, I’d have thought authors would’ve grown more self-awareness in that time, not less. Yet it seems (as I have noted in other interviews) there is a common elitist disdain for the independent reviewers/bloggers/readers who share their criticism online. And, as much as I sympathise with people for wanting to be universally loved, no matter the quality of their work, I side with readers and reviewers more.
Really, this is an absurd take for so many reasons. What constitutes being a “real” fan anyway? Obviously, you can stop liking something you used to love. And obviously a story can disappoint. Someone that criticises a work for disappointing them does not stop being the same person whose hard-earned money funded it in the first place.
Here, Martin and the like clearly mean blind loyalty… but to what exactly? Giant corporations who are trying to get our money and offer nothing in return. So many great franchises have fallen to giant corporations eager to churn out show after show that wear their skin. Going on a rampage, destroying their previously established plots, world building and characters. Is it wrong, then, for fandoms to rise against this wanton destruction?
Particularly when the people doing this offer no new ideas or added value. The stories they steal are shadows of their former selves. They do not entertain; they annoy. They do not bring joy; they make us miserable. And they do not unite us with a common mythos; they sow division. The stories and projects under this banner of “remake” frequently disappoint. They waste our time and money. All the while, there seems to be a scarcity of funding for new and innovative projects. It’s just the same old people (Abrams, D&D etc) being given project after project- despite no one being happy with the outcomes.
And in truth, we are more united than divided on these matters. For instance, one could say most people are united in their disappointment over how Game of Thrones ended (and other similar disasters in recent media). Even though we all desired different outcomes, most of us were quite dissatisfied (rather a funny example, but (I had a pact with a friend of mine, that whoever got what they wanted at the end of GOT had to buy the other one dinner… needless to say that never happened). Star Wars fans were, understandably not jumping for joy at the Disneyification of their beloved franchise. And, similarly, many of us Tolkien fans are not best pleased with what is happening to our precioussss. The truth is, we do have a stake in these properties, because it is our love for them that keeps them alive. We are the real fans and we are fighting back.
I think a lot of this comes from a desire to pre-empt attacks on his new show… which I shall admittedly be watching. But you can rest assured, I don’t need anyone’s permission to say whether it’s good or not.
So, what do you think? Do you think Martin had a point? What are your opinions? Let me know in the comments!
Hello all! This is a post that’s been a long time coming- not least because today is my 7th BLOGGIVERSARY!!!! Can you believe I’ve been doing this for SEVEN YEARS ALREADY?!?! I certainly can’t!! And of course, that’s got me being all retrospective about my old reviews. Because written a HELLUVA LOT of them in that time!
Now, naturally, when I look back on my old posts, I have to admit I don’t enjoy it. Perhaps it goes without saying, they don’t ever seem as polished as my newer reviews. So, broadly speaking, I won’t be addressing that side of things (just know I’m *internally cringing* the whole time). I’m gonna be looking at the content and whether or not I still agree with what I said about the books. Wish me luck- I’m gonna need it!
(NB: The pictures will all link to the original reviews, so feel free to check them out for reference).
As I Lay Dying– I don’t care how many times a random stranger tells me that I “didn’t get” how genius this book is, I still think it’s shit and I stand by my review. It’s plotless, stuffed with uninteresting characters and pretentiously written. I do not think this book was “ruined for me” by bad teaching or whatever nonsense someone wants to throw at me- I just think it’s bad.
The Fault in Our Stars– I was almost too kind in my review… and I didn’t say anything positive about it 😉 Maybe I’d be more forgiving if this book didn’t exploit Anne Frank for clout… but it does, so I’m never gonna forget how pretentious this book is. Also, I once saw Green state in a video that he only believes in positive reviews, so I’m never taking this down 😉
Bronze Horseman– yeah this book still sucks. I definitely could have been more concise in my review- but I stand by the gist of it.
Throne of Glass– okay, now we’re getting into some juicy stuff, because we’re talking about books I liked at the time, yet no longer care for. Reading back these positive reviews feels a bit cringey. While I still stand by some parts- like the fact it was cool to have a protagonist who wasn’t a stereotypically “nice” girl- it’s hard not to think about where said character ended up (being a really bland “chosen one” stand in). I essentially stand by what I said, because it’s how I felt at the time, and I don’t think it’s fair for my current perspective to taint that.
Eye of the World– ahhh now this one is curious, because in an unbelievable turn of events, I ended up rereading this book recently. Annnnd I still had the same trouble with the writing and desperately thinking that the story needed editing. BUT there was clearly enough intrigue in the story for me to want to give the Wheel of Time series a second try. So, I guess I’ve softened with this one, recognising that I can see why other people like it.
Lonely Hearts Hotel– oh dear- this is one of those books I wish I’d never read. I don’t want to have written a negative review about it, because I feel like I was miss-marketed the story. That said, there’s enough objectionable content in the book that I have to stand by everything I said about it.
Woman in the Window– ehh, really hard one to talk about! I try to judge a book separate from the author as much as humanly possible… however I’d have to have been living under a rock not to have heard about what was going on behind the scenes! Aside from that, while I still think the writing was stellar, watching the movie and reading/seeing other reviews has made me rethink how well I rated this book. Despite the fact that I like the motifs, the story is just not that great. This is probably the closest I’ve come to fully wanting to retract an old review!
Maidens– still, there are plenty of times when I see negative reviews and don’t change my mind! Although this is a more recent read, I’ve included this because I’ve seen *a lot* of criticisms of this book and I just don’t agree. I find it a very richly written thriller with a dark edge, elevated by its mythological references.
Beartown– when I was planning to do this post, I was thinking about this review as one I regretted. After feedback, I felt like I was perhaps too harsh on the book and the way it handled sensitive topics. And then I read Night Swim. Unfortunately, I had much the same critiques, being frustrated with its take on the legal system and its desire to overturn judicial principles like “innocent until proven guilty”. So while I wish I’d handled the topic with more sensitivity… I still haven’t changed my mind about the actual book.
The Queen’s Thief Series– it’s not all bad news though! While I had mixed feelings about this series, looking back on my review, I found it to be pretty nuanced. It’s safe to say, I had a *strong* reaction to this series- and I think the review I wrote covers that! (in spite of my rather misleading title for the review 😉 )
Sadie– if anything, I wish I could have hyped this book more! Looking back on my super positive reviews like this, I TOTALLY stand by everything I said. My only issue is that I can’t do stories like this justice! They deserve more hype!!
And that’s all for now! There are so many more reviews I could’ve talked about, but hopefully I covered a good range! What do you think? Do you think my assessment of these reviews was fair? And do you ever change your mind about old reviews? Let me know in the comments! I’m dying to hear your thoughts on this!
Recently, I went to a writing group, where a fellow writer told me how she got her inspiration. She was writing the story of a friend of a friend losing her virginity at 28. “When my friend told me the story, I just found it so funny, I had to write it into a novel,” she told me. And I cringed. The idea of such a personal story being relayed to the world is a lot of people’s worst nightmare. And the fact that the person poaching the plot was a complete stranger (thereby obviously not having permission to tell it) didn’t make me feel better about it.
But it did get me thinking… how bad is it to pinch parts of someone else’s life story? Is it ever okay?
There has been a lot of discussion lately about the “Bad Art Friend”- a complicated tale of a personal story being plagiarised (and consequent law suits). A lot of people cannot decide who exactly the “Bad Art Friend” was in that situation (since this certainly seems to be a case of writers behaving badly). Nonetheless- whichever side I am on- there’s something deeply uncomfortable about taking someone else’s story in order to mock them. I cannot help but be reminded of Music and Lyrics, where Drew Barrimore’s character has been traumatised by such an event. Naturally, as the audience it is impossible not to empathise- for who would want to be the laughing stock of the world?
Which makes this seem like a cut and dry case- except it’s clearly not. Because isn’t this just something writers and artists do? Drawing from real life is quite possibly the oldest tradition in writing. We all have poets and singers we admire who openly write about real life people. And while artists like Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran may have been criticised in recent years for this practice… it’s not like it’s a new phenomenon. People scour Shakespeare’s sonnets for evidence of the real people they were about. Thomas Hardy knowingly took details from real life cases he read about in newspapers to add realism to his stories. And what of historical fiction, cannibalising the lives of real figures in history and reproducing them for our entertainment. Indeed, even I am engaging in this practice by sharing my anecdote at the start of this piece!
Sadly, I don’t think there is an easy answer here. If you argue that you should obscure the references, keeping identities secret like Carly Simons did with “You’re So Vain”, you underestimate the innumerable fan sites dedicated to decoding songwriter’s every word. And if you suggest only writing nice things your victims subjects, then you ignore the likes of Christopher Robin, the star of Winnie the Pooh, who famously complained about being foisted into the spotlight against his will. And retribution for those whose stories are stolen seems out of the question- lawsuits don’t help you win allies and plotting murder like in the (hopefully entirely fictional) Plot seems a bit extreme 😉
It seems to me that there is no way around absorbing parts of our lives into our stories and art. There is no obvious dividing line where truth becomes fiction after all. But perhaps we can still endeavour to treat people with basic dignity and respect. Perhaps there are some stories that we ought to leave well enough alone. Perhaps the only conclusive advice I can offer is this: don’t be a dick. Which is sound advice in general 😉
For more on this discussion (and somewhat different takes) check out these videos:
All of this leaves me in quite the conundrum- so I’d like to hear what you think! Is it ever okay to fictionalise someone else’s story? Can you entirely avoid drawing from real life? Let me know in the comments!
Obviously, there are a lot of amazing adaptations out there. Some faithfully manage to take the source material and transpose it into a new medium; some even manage to improve upon the source material. BUT there is a reason why whenever I hear a beloved book is being adapted to Film/TV, I have to gulp back my fears. Because for every good adaptation there seems to be another atrocious one (for the sake of my credibility, I have to add that I have no actual clue what the ratio is for good/bad adaptations 😉). Of course there are so many aspects that go into an adaptation that I cannot possibly cover them all- so here are just a few recurring issues that really, really bug me:
#1 The first (and possibly biggest) issue is that the writers have no real interest in adapting the original story. Now, I’m not just talking about fanficy nonsense (*coughs* “Rings of Power” *cough cough*)- I’m talking about versions of the story that entirely fail to capture the spirit of the original. For me, the most common mistake is taking light and frothy stories and turning them dark and gritty and intense. Yes, programmes like Anne with an E may get praise for being a bold take… I found it lacked the charm of Anne of Green Gables and thoroughly put me off. While it may not seem like such a big problem to greyscale your colour palette and throw in a few grim visuals, what you actually end up is a jarring adaptation that muddies the waters, loses touch with the original themes and has me yelling at the screen “tell your own damn story!”
#2 And while we’re on the topic of poaching, I’m also not a fan of Hollywood’s obsession with “modernisation”. History is often messy and uncomfortable and something we can’t relate to- and yet rewriting the past seems like an awful solution. Culprits like the 2019 Little Women seem to care that turning most of your heroines into modern women seem entirely out of step with the time period, thereby making it detached from the original. They only seem to care about their own performative activism.
#3 Which leads me onto my next criticism of Hollywood’s latest spate of adaptations: political overtones. Because Hollywood writers seem to think that breaking the fourth wall to have your characters give a “right on” speech is good writing. Besides being preachy and ridiculous, it’s not a substitute for decent characterisation. When the main character in Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society gave a “feminist” speech, it did not make up for stripping this strong heroine of her moral compass and personality (incidentally, this was an example of a middle-aged bloke interpreting a character created by women… and it shows). This is a heroine that went from being spunky, decisive and independent to a demure creature who finds it impossible to choose between two potential husbands, only getting her “you go girl!” moment because she points out female writers exist. *Slow clap* for that.
#4 What makes it worse is the imposition of a faulty morality on the story. Because if I had a penny for every story with *bonus cheating/marriage-falling-apart/general relationship dysfunction* thrown in, I’d be a wealthy monkey. The fact that Hollywood seems so opposed to portraying healthy relationships onscreen is alarming. Even if one couple in a story are vaguely functioning, the adaptation has to throw in some bigamy to “spice things up”. Like the only healthy relationship in Big Little Lies now having an affair at the heart of it. Hollywood’s interpretation: marriage sucks. Message received.
#5 Oddly, the flipside is also true. As much as Hollywood cannot give a married couple a break, they also LOVE to turn the “glitzy” dial up to eleven. Is the book about getting into college like Always and Forever, Lara Jean? Well, better make it an Ivy League. Does the book have a plus-sized protagonist like Ready Player One? Then they have to be skinnier than average. Is your character talented in any way? Time to shoehorn in a CHOSEN ONE TROPE (still cannot believe they applied this logic to Peter Panof all things). It gives me emotional whiplash how quickly Hollywood can turn from cynical to HYPERACTIVELY UNREALISTICALLY OPTIMISTIC!
#6 Annnd I’ve managed to get to the end of this post without mentioning the decisions that were just plain weird. Sometimes, writers are just ill-equipped to deal with the source material (and that’s why we end up with Game of Thrones season 8). And sometimes, they don’t even appear to like what they were working on and decide to do something that truly bizarre (the leather-clad-lunatic Valentine from City of Bones springs to mind). Sometimes, I get the impression they didn’t want to adapt the original story at all (okay, I swear I’m going to have to do a whole post on Rings of Power at some point).
Really, when I think about this list, I’m even happier that so many good adaptations exist- because it’s remarkably easy to eff it up! Or maybe I just shouldn’t be so fussy!
What do you think? Doyou feel the same way as me? Do you have any gripes of your own with Hollywood adaptations? Don’t leave me hanging!
In the past bizarre (and frequently terrible) year, reading has kept a lot of us going. Whether it’s through escapism or giving me much needed life advice, books have proven their power to keep us going. I know for myself books have been a great escape.
For me, opening a new book or even starting a fresh chapter has been like pressing the reset button. It doesn’t matter which head I’ve stepped into for the time being- it’s a relief to see the world through a different lens. Because books don’t just lower stress levels- they frequently act as a handy Guide Out of Hell. They may not be able to slay a dragon (try throwing one at its head and see how far it gets you) but they can offer some good tips 😉
Books are educational in a million different ways, teaching us everything from empathy to philosophy to practical skills… and beyond! It’s the one leveller we have left when it comes to education, because it’s still an affordable hobby (make use of your libraries people!!) A simple pen to paper can restore balance to a human mind. It can give our thoughts a moment of harmony.
Reading is a refreshing pastime. It doesn’t simply take you away- it gives you plenty of souvenirs. Trinkets you carry around for years, maybe without even knowing it, until at last you look in your pocketses and there’s the one ring… Okay maybe not that last bit! Yet reading does remind me every time that when you discover a new story, there’s no knowing where you might end up.
And yes, this is an indulgent post to write about 😉 I’m sure it will not take much to have bookworms agreeing that reading is a wonderful hobby- but every so often we just need to celebrate reading for all that it is.
Do you agree? Has reading helped you in the last year? Share your thoughts in the comments!
It’s the tenth anniversary of Game of Thrones… and I wouldn’t have noticed if not for this video on its ruined legacy. And it got me thinking a couple of things- 1) how did time fly so fast and 2) was GOT ruined or was it always designed to go up in wildfire? Obviously, I won’t be using this post to address the former, just the latter 😉
Before GRRM superfans tar and feather me- I’m not trying to take away the series’ merit. Don’t get me wrong: I love the world building, the characters and fascinating themes. However, speaking to my own personal taste, reflecting on some of the concepts does make me wonder if I was always going to wind up unhappy with the ending.
Game of Thrones was always a divisive series. Barely an episode could go by without some kind of critique or scandal. And this is not an accident or merely the showrunner’s doing. Going off of Martin’s own interviews, much of the series is designed to be a counterbalance to traditional fantasy. The traditional fantasy that I, and many other mainstream audiences, love. Lord of the Rings, for instance, is famously hopeful, inspiring and the prime example of good triumphing over evil. Though it has tragic elements, it certainly does not hinge on them. When we set out from the Shire we are assured of a safe(ish) resolution.
Whereas GRRM promised us bittersweet. And if it is to be a counterbalance to the likes of LOTR then by golly that must be some BITTERsweet ending. Most of the plot points have tragedy written all over them; there is barely a glimmer of optimism in all the books. The best we could hope for is our favourites not dying and maybe, just maybe getting their revenge! In the words of Ramsay Bolton…
That’s not to say all tragedies are disappointing. In the usual ebb and flow of a tragedy, there is often a highpoint that alleviates the characters’ (and the readers’) suffering. Think Tess and Angels’ blissful summer in Tess of the D’Urbervilles. Of course, we know this lovely moment cannot last, yet we can delude ourselves into thinking it will, and this gives us our catharsis. Game of Thrones never really does that. Romantic moments are often told from another perspective or tarnished by the realities of the situation (eg Daenerys may fall in love with Khal Drogo, but she’s also raped by him first).
There’s a reason every moment of “happiness” is framed this way. And that’s because it’s working from a principle of being *realistic in the postmodernist sense*. It’s fundamentally endorsing the idea that meaning is found where you place its value. In the world of Game of Thrones, there are no heroes and villains, there is no good vs evil, there is no right and wrong. There is no objective truth- merely the matter of where you place your sympathy. GRRM takes the morally relativistic view that all his characters will inevitably fall to the dark side… And frankly none of their struggles matter because of that. No happy ending is/was ever possible in this series- for anyone. Which is not so much tragic as it is depressing.
As much as I can appreciate this for its uniqueness, it’s not exactly satisfying. That’s not the point of this story. Rather, it’s designed to push boundaries, subvert our expectations and make us question the genre. While we like to blame D&D for the subversive elements, subversion is pretty much woven into the fabric of the narrative. And that has its upsides… and its downsides. Because sometimes there can be narrative consequences when you try to challenge an existing idea.
Inevitably you may question the story that’s making you question everything. I for one don’t think every concept in GOT makes sense. The critique of Aragorn becoming king, for example, is flawed. Because, I happen to think that if he’s capable enough to get an army of dead people on his side, then he’s perfectly capable of hiring some plumbers to set up a sewage system (and I have no idea why GRRM thinks otherwise). It is entirely possible for a leader to be strategic on the battlefield and with the treasury (and there are historic examples of this). This may seem like nit-picking, yet this is such a foundational element to the story, that it leaves me questioning will I ever be satisfied with the outcome of this series? These issues nag away at me and could indicate that this series was never for me in the first place.
Of course, this whole post is somewhat premature. No matter what I think I know, I have to add the caveat that I don’t know the actual ending (none of us do). There are some incredible theories mapping out sensational conclusions and GRRM’s finale could end up putting even those to shame. So, this post could be meaningless when the final book comes out. Personally, I very much look forward to being proved wrong 😉
So, what do you think? Are you optimistic about GRRM’s ending? Do you have doubts like me? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!
Every year in free speech week, I try to exercise my freedom and talk about aspects of this (apparently contentious) topic. Yet this year I want to do something different. Not because we have reached the zenith of free speech- far from it. Despite the job losses, tragedies and general morose of 2020, the Twitterati have nothing better to do and have been busy cancelling, well, anything and everything. Which is why I wanted to talk about this tweet:
Maybe (most likely) it’s just my confirmation bias talking, but I think it’s such an excellent point. Disclaimer for book twitter: there are some nice little bubbles where you can play around with likeminded people (/primates)… Buuuut it’s not all fun and games. Twitter is kinda known for how toxic it can get. While it’s not the only place cancel culture thrives, it’s certainly one of the hotspots. I can’t tell you how often I go on twitter, see people congregating round an issue and think “oh no, who’s getting cancelled today?” Even if it’s a case of valid criticism, the platform doesn’t exactly lend itself to nuanced conversation and this leads to things getting heated pretty fast. And too often publishers get a whiff of the smoke and are scared off- but this needn’t be the case.
You see, (and forgive me if this is obvious) twitter is not reflective of the public at large. This is hardly a revelation. Looking at just some of the research (focusing on the States, given that 70% of users are from there… which you should bear in mind if you’re from outside the US like me), most twitter users in the US are more likely to have a college degree and have a higher income than the national average. Just 20% of US can be classed as active users (ie go on the platform once a month)- and of that number 80% of tweets come from the most active 10%. Meaning we’re only hearing from about 2% of the population. It probably isn’t any wonder then that (and many people will hate me for saying this) twitter often strikes me as an elitist club. As much as people claim that twitter is designed to give a voice to the voiceless, that it’s a great way for the powerless to have some power for themselves, that the gangs running rampant on there are noble “working class” vigilantes… I can’t see any evidence it’s representative of this. Observationally, I’d say the vast majority of big users are marketing/PR people, the so-called faces for faceless corporations, journos, professional activists and politicians. Ordinary people (ie consumers) aren’t represented on there for the most part… making me question, why is it taken so seriously?
Time and again, it’s proven to not be a good source for elections for instance (which makes sense, given that even if a politician gets 100,000 likes, this isn’t a huge number considering… especially considering this can come from a global audience). Likewise, buzz on twitter doesn’t mean much- as excitable as twitter can seem about a reboot, this may not translate to actual fans buying tickets.
Similar logic can be applied to book twitter. A lot of readers don’t hang out on twitter. As the above tweet shows, it’s not necessarily going to reflect how well a book performs (especially since big names are so often targeted). It’s always been pretty debatable whether this particular platform even sell books. Anecdotally, I can also say that a lot of readers see the fires burning and run away. And even if they do stick around, a lot of people don’t want to get into the middle of a confrontation (giving the false impression that the debates are one-sided).
Which is why I wish publishers would take twitter with a pinch of salt. Instead of going off how angry someone can get in 140 characters or how many clapping emojis a person can use in one go, maybe just maybe, they can hold their nerve and wait for the general reading public to vote with their wallets. Maybe it’s time we ignored the drama flaming on twitter.
Ooh err, hope I don’t get burned at the stake for this one! 😉 But given I do actually like free speech- I’m open to hearing your thoughts! What do you think about book twitter? Do you think it’s representative of the reading public? Let me know in the comments!