In the third of my series of posts chatting to book bloggers, today I’m delighted to welcome Teresa aka Lovely Treez Reads
Why do you blog about books? How many books do you read per month on average and has blogging about them changed the way you read?
I don’t really see myself as a book blogger, I’m much too disorganised to have scheduled posts and monthly round ups etc!
I started reviewing books for an online bookswapping site about 6 years ago and folk there seemed to enjoy what I wrote so I became more confident about my reviews. It’s a creative outlet for me and gives me a focus outside the world of a stay-at-home-Mum.
I read around 8 books a month and make an annual target with Good Reads which keeps me in check. I don’t think I read any differently since starting reviewing. I went off reading for a while after my university degree in French and Italian as I was so focussed on finding the “deep underlying meaning” and couldn’t switch off and just enjoy reading. Now that my children are growing up, aged 9 and 13 now, I find myself reading more and more YA to discover new reads for them…and of course, we are all members of reading groups….is that not the norm?
Oh I wish it was! Tell me more about your reading groups (I’m envious): have you ever had your point of view changed about a book as a result of a reading group discussion? How do the ‘live’ discussions differ from conversations online?
I really enjoy my monthly reading group at our local library. The age range is from 30 – 65 and at the moment we only have female members although it is rumoured that a man may join our ranks in September – it will be interesting to see how this affects the group dynamic and discussions in general. Book talk with like-minded folk is so satisfying and it is refreshing to see other viewpoints/interpretations. We have lots of “aha” moments when someone else spots something new in a novel and as I have generally already read at least half of the chosen titles I have an opportunity to re-read novels and experience new levels of understanding.
Re the pros and cons of “live” discussion versus online, I find that conflicting opinions seem less abrupt in real life as you have the benefit of facial expression, body language and natural pauses plus there is a more natural flow to conversation. We, as a group, also share more personal stories which all serve to enhance the reading experience. Our most recent read was The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and we had an extremely rewarding discussion re mental health issues.
I am delighted that my son and daughter are involved in reading groups too. They are both quite shy but reading gives them a common interest with others and an opportunity to exchange opinions. Reading is definitely becoming a more vibrant, interactive, dare I say…cool activity. Long may it continue!
What are the high and low points of reviewing books for you?
High points are reading spectacular debut novels which you just want to share with everyone. The only “low” point is wondering how I will be able to read all of my TBR pile…reaches for the immortality pill…
What would you say is your taste in books? What makes a book good for you?
It’s probably easier to say what I don’t enjoy. I’m not a big fan of modern romance and although I really like YA novels I prefer those with dystopian themes minus the teen angst. I dislike Misery Memoirs and Clogs and Shawls books. My favourite reads usually have some element of quirkiness and a bit of Victorian Gothic doesn’t go amiss.
Do you ever read books that you don’t really fancy, but everyone else seems to be reading and talking about?
I tend to be a creature of habit and have had my fingers burnt when I stray too far out of my comfort zone Major confession..I did read Fifty Shades of Grey as I wanted to know what all the fuss was about. Some folk believe that it doesn’t matter what people read as long as they are reading but I would rather read the back of a cereal box for eternity than face any more of the “grey matter”! I had got out of the habit of reading thrillers in my late 20s but I’ve dabbled a little recently with Mo Hayder’s Poppet and they’re back on the agenda. At the moment I am tempted to read Gone Girl as it has such a buzz about it but I’m not convinced….yet…
What is your point of view on the star rating system of book reviews? What, for you, do 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 stars mean to a prospective reader?
I’ve seen many bloggers discussing this online and I can’t see the problem. Readers are intelligent and like to read a variety of opinions so they can make a balanced decision on whether to buy a book or not. Sometimes I feel that book bloggers can be rather anal and precious about such things and can end up patronising readers.
Could you expand a little on what you mean by patronising the reader? Could a book that isn’t to your taste at all get a 5* review if you thought it was brilliantly written?
Readers have minds of their own and aren’t too swayed by star ratings. I think star ratings give readers an initial idea about how you felt about a novel and as they get to know your reviewing style and tastes they are a good guide for what might work for them. The rating needs to be backed up with a balanced review.
I think it’s important to mention stylistic factors for example present/past tense, 1st/3rd person or multiple narrators as a lot of readers have fixed tastes re style. There are plenty of marmite books out there which make for interesting reviews and indeed books which provoke discussion and make you feel something are much more intriguing than bland, safe novels – better to aim for the stars and risk failure rather than sticking to tried and tested formulas.There isn’t much difference between my 4 and 5 star ratings apart from the fact that I reserve 5 stars for books which I think will stand the test of time and are an excellent example of their genre. For example I would give 5 stars to a spectacular children’s novel even though I’m slightly over the target market age range! I often find that I have to “digest” a book for a couple of weeks to make sure the initial sparkle doesn’t fade before posting a rave review…you can tell I was a strict teacher in the classroom.
Recommend me three books that have blown you away.
My all time favourite book is Jane Eyre but, in recent times, I have been very impressed by The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist, Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell and The Drowning of Arthur Braxton by Caroline Smailes.
Many thanks to Teresa for taking the time to be here and chat.
Catch up with other interviews in this series: