The “Best”!?!?! OMGWTFBBQ!!!

As the year draws to a close and Christmas comes barreling down upon some of us like a steamroller driven by a lunatic monkey I thought it would be appropriate to unleash my fury in an appropriate catharsis and upon my unsuspecting victims, err, readers.  Why not start off the New Year fresh and unperturbed, right?

Right.

As I mentioned in Monday’s blog I was going to do a post on “best books”.  As a reviewer I don’t strive to be objective when I’m reading a book, nor reviewing it- I am a very opinionated person to ignore this aspect of myself would only hinder the process.  Instead I delve in, knowing my bias and confronting it all along the way into the center of the book and out the other side.  When putting my thoughts and reactions down into a review I am doing it through this bias and still utilizing the text to explain why I liked/didn’t like a book.

Now, here’s the key:  I utilize the text to explain why I liked/didn’t like a book.

Everyone reads through their own mental filters.  EVERYONE.  But this notion of the “best book EVAR” as justified by popularity is absolute garbage.  What that tells us, in very strict definitions, is what book is “the most popular book EVAR”.  The lack of objective definition in “best” doesn’t allow for it to be otherwise.  I have long been neglectful in doing a rating system here and part of that has been out of sheer reluctance to put a book on a scale.  It’s easy to glance and say “Oh, she gave that one star/happy face/unicorn/rainbow ejaculating elf!” but I don’t want to do that.  Instead I’ll give you my thoughts about a book and support it but beyond that- it’s up to you.  [There is nothing wrong with rating systems- many blogs use them effectively.  I am just not one of those people.]

Seldom have I found a true book of literary quality spoken about by the masses in lunch rooms, at the water coolers or over a cup of coffee- the greatest works are those who prove their timeliness and timelessness.  They evoke something in just about anyone who endeavors to read it with strong imagery and characterization.  They AREN’T the ones usually at the top of best seller lists. [Please note the finite capacity in which “best” was used here by being coupled with “seller”.]

What prompted this post was a whole bunch of people running amok and declaring the best book of the year/month/decade to be their own favorite book.  Not saying this is wrong, but I will say perhaps they should evaluate the scale they use for determining “best” before flapping their gums all over the interweb touting Twilight, Harry Potter7, and The Time Traveler’s Wife as the best books of the decade.  I liked only one of those books and only “kind of” at that and all I’m left with is saying, “The ‘best’?!  What/why/how did you jump to that conclusion?  With a mat?!” [Yes, dear reader, I read all three of those titles.]

The use of not defined superlatives such as “best” makes me want to sprout another head with which I could flay people alive with my breath of fire.  Or just send people to Candy Mountain: 

Words mean something, oft times we make words our own and we forget there is a concrete definition lurking around in something called a dictionary, but it is important to at least understand WHAT YOUR DEFINITION IS before spouting off even if you would prefer to eschew the dictionary.  So, if you use the word “best”, tell me what scale you use upon which the term is resting.  Make it MEAN something- not just to your readership/friends/family but for yourself.  This way when you say “best” people will stand up and take notice.  It will have significance.  And, let’s face it, we all want to be significant so why not start with our words?

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4 responses to “The “Best”!?!?! OMGWTFBBQ!!!

  • Heather

    Regarding the ratings system, I have to say I find them mildly helpful. I think you can get a sense of who may have the same “mental filters” as you do with reviews, such as the star rating system in Amazon.com.

    If 10 of the 15 reviewers seem to write reviews about books you may be interested in (whether through your own surfing the interenet or the ‘recommendation list’ amazon.com creates) then it gives me a better idea on if I’ll like it & if I want to wait 3 months for the library to recieve it or if I want to spedn $12 and buy it.

    Granted, this only accounts for about 20% of my choice in reading a specific book. Another 20% is the cover…does it look interesting (especially if I am browsing in a bookstore) a good 40% is the blurb on the back and the last 20% is reading the first few paragraphs of a chapter–does it grabs my attention? Oui? Then I will support the economy or put it on my TBR list through the hold system at the library.

    Now, I’ve bought books based on BOOKMARK magazines reviews or someone says “read this!”‘ and I hated it, or couldn’t even finish it. Those books promptly went into the library return slot, GOODWILL or to-be-sent-to-the-local-Nursing-Home pile, so yes we need to make our OWN decisions. However, I do find reviews to be a bit helpful. Especially the ones you see on movies in EW where they slam it. That’s the one I’ll go see or get on DVD because I want to see how bad they think it really is!

    • kimberlyloomis

      SBTB uses a rating system very effectively- the reviews are so cutting if I see anything like a “B” or above I almost feel a sick compulsion to check it out. I’m not so cranky about rating systems as I am about the lack of critical thought in application to the literature being reviewed as well as that rating system being utilized. I would prefer to see “best” and “worst” stricken from the English language at this point, however. It aids in the ease of non-criticism.

  • Chris!

    “It’s a magical liopleurodon, Charlie!”

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