Why I Appreciate Ranting Critics

book shelf ch

My trusted friend learned the value of living simply by growing up in a military family subject to frequent moves. She has offered to help me de-clutter my house. Then I discovered that she considers our many books and dvd’s to be clutter. Um… this might not work. We have three walls of floor-to-ceiling shelves crammed with books — and perhaps a pile or two in the bedroom. And my home office. And maybe the living room… and the deck. I tried to tell her they make an excellent extra layer of insulation. She rolled her eyes.

I do cull regularly (my husband’s stuff is much easier to part with for some reason) and I do avoid second-hand bookstores, and clearance tables in the mall, so there are fewer books coming in. But now I’m having to worry about clutter on my computer since I have a Facebook friend who lets me know about free e-book promotions on Amazon -and he has great taste.

So, I am trying to be freer with what I part with, and more discerning about what I let in.  Now I’m researching authors and their works more before buying. I realized something about book reviews and reviewers today. I’m more likely to be attracted to a book with a few bad reviews than pages of gushing changed-my-lifes. Is it bad that I take some book reviewer’s negative online critiques as recommendations? Self-appointed heresy-hunters have panned some of the best books I’ve read. I’m beginning to recognize their names. Thanks, guys.

Do you remember video rental shops? One thing my husband and I discovered was that if the blurb on the box said, “HILARIOUS!!!!” we would probably hate it. It’s not that we are humour-challenged, it’s just that, after a while, humour that comes at the expense of someone’s dignity begins to lose it’s appeal. We also found certain popular critics had very different ideas of what constituted  an entertaining evening than we did. If they disliked something, we might just pick it up.

We’re weird that way. Popular not only does not know our address, it has never even wandered down our street. And we don’t mind.

The same author’s name popped up in a few places recently. I decided to check him out; he seems to say some rather radical things. Most of the reviews of his latest book on Amazon were over the top  five star best-thing-I’ve-ever-read stuff, which I immediately dismissed as friends’ or relatives’ or groupies’ kind attempts at helping sales. Four and three star reviews tend to mention possible flaws (which all the best authors have.) Then I skipped down to the one and two star stuff. There weren’t many, but one of the reviewers, who was very witty because angry people can be quite funny, hated the book, the author, and everyone on his friends list. Thankfully, the reviewer clearly delineated why he hated it, and in the process revealed his own character flaws and  the thinking that led to his disgruntled attitude.

Love it. I’m getting the book. The very things that offended him are in areas where I have also been offended, and where I realize I need to change.

I read a quote from a Christian author and teacher who listed his four favourite theologians, then stated he didn’t completely agree with any of them. Love it. Nobody has the entire picture, although some of the parts they do have are excellent.

We can learn, and grow, and change when we are willing to toss out some old books (or ideas) to make room on the shelf for ones we haven’t considered yet, knowing that  Holy Spirit will continue to teach us discernment and refine our thinking in the process of renewing our minds.

Now, if you will excuse me, I have to make room on the shelf.

4 thoughts on “Why I Appreciate Ranting Critics

  1. I can so relate to this! I don’t want to get rid of a single book, and yet my house groans and I watch movies that get bad reviews because I know they probably just missing the stuff that I don’t want to see 🙂


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