Keywords: book reviews, editing, positivity, reviewing books, selecting books, writing.
In this blog post I will talk a little about my new philosophy of writing book reviews. Some of these ideas are not entirely new, while others are the result of the reviews I have done so far, as in my Maslow review, and in my Maltz review.
Getting More Positive!
The main question here is about positive attitude. My whole idea here at chrisbocay.com is that we all must become more positive in order for us to experience more happiness, health, and wealth.
This means that the overall attitude must be, on average, positive. And not just “so-so” positive, but really “engagingly” positive. The reader must feel that I am positive, and that I wish to convey that very same positivity to anyone who is reading it.
And that is tricky when it comes to book reviews. In my own example, I had trouble mobilizing enough positive energy when I reviewed the Maslow title. I did see some positive points in it, but those points were mostly for other audiences; and they were not always easy to identify.
My “discovery”, then, was that the whole writing of that article (including the actual reading of the book itself) turned out to be much more of a “struggle” than I would have thought. And if there is anything that the happiness-seeking individual should be very cautious about, is anything that feels like a struggle.
So the recommendation for myself in the future, is that I will not do extensive book reviews of books that are not on the “wow!” scale in terms of how positive I feel about them. That means, basically, that I will refrain from reviewing academic books as a rule, for most are not very engaging or “practical” in terms of inspiring ourselves to become more positive.
There may be exceptions to this rule, especially in the new “Positive Psychology” arena. But in terms of “classical” psychology and philosophy books, the rule should mostly apply, at least for me.
This is, however, not to say that other people might not get “energized” or “enthusiastic” about old psychology or philosophy books, such as Freud, etc. I am just saying here that I have to act from my own point of view, and care about how I myself feel about it, regardless of what others may think about the same things.
The upshot is simply that I have to guard my own positivity, so that it doesn’t disappear unnecessarily. The “trick” as I see it, is that the more I avoid thinking about, or writing about, negative things, the more I have time and energy to write about positive things. So instead of draining my positive energy, I will reinforce it with even more positivity.
Re-evaluating What Reviews I am Publishing
So the basic recommendation is, then, to avoid long reviews of books that I am not so enthusiastic about. And that, basically, means that the long reviews are only for books that I am REALLY positive about. So that feels incredibly good to come to that conclusion.
The “problem” though, is that there aren’t too many books that really are super-positive, both in (self-help) content, and attitude, and “recommendability”.
So one solution then could be that I simply accept the fact that there aren’t too many really positive books, and that I only write book reviews for those books that are really “super”.
Another solution might be that I later decide to include also those that are not so “super”, but that those book reviews will be more like “Mini-Reviews”, with a much shorter text. This would then serve the book review reader in the sense that he or she would not have to confront too much negativity in terms of my evaluation of the book.
However, from my own perspective, such a review still would involve a fair (i.e. reasonably close) reading of the book, which, for me, might include confronting lots of passages that I don’t like, or agree with.
So even though I may later summarize these things (for the reader) in a very short sentence saying something like “I’m not particularly fond of this book”, it still may have had an all too big (negative) emotional impact on myself for it to be healthy for me and my own level of positivity.
My tentative decision is thus to only review those books that I more or less wholeheartedly can recommend (which are not very many). Such a decision feels very good to me.
Anyway, these are my thoughts right now. I am constantly trying to improve this website, both from the reader’s point of view, and my own, so that the “total” value in terms of positive attitude is as high as possible.