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The Book Reviewer's Regret

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During an event featuring award winning author Ben Okri, he desribed a review he written about a book:

He said he, in essence that he'd panned the book. The review was published and he felt the review was fair though he did not like the book.

Ten years later he re-read the book, and he thought it was great. He was at a different place and was now able to appreciate the book. He really regretted writing that unfavorable book review.

I wondered if anyone had written a favorable review of a book; only to realize over time that the book actually sucked.

After the event; I spoke with someone who regularly writes reviews for major publications including the Washington Post. I asked him what he though about Ben's comments. He said that he aways trys to find something positive to say about a book. If he can't find anything positive to say he does not write the review.

From my experience the book review is MUCH more valuable if it is wriiten by a reviewer whose reviews you are familiar with.

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Ten years later he re-read the book, and he thought it was great. He was at a different place and was now able to appreciate the book. He really regretted writing that unfavorable book review.

I wondered if anyone had written a favorable review of a book; only to realize over time that the book actually sucked.

(Ben should take a chill pill. If he honestly thought the book sucked when he read it, then he didn't do anything wrong. This phenomenon is quite common. See the critics' reactions to "Citizen Kane" or other such groundbreaking works. There are many works I just wasn't ready for and only later could see their worth because I had to grow to the point where I could appreciate them.

That said, I have never written a favorable review that I changed my mind on later. I have been fortunate.

I did write a review of Cornel West's "Race Matters" that I wish I could amend. Actually, I would not take back any comments I made about the book--I would add in fairness that I had not reviewed Wests other work before reading it--when I realized that he was a philosopher I did not withdraw any of my comments about it being obtuse and rather dense--that is in the nature of philosophical works, though.

Also I do think that people made too much of it still.

Ben should write another review correcting the first one--as long as nobody committed suicide over it or sued in for libel no harm was done.

A woman I know says that she doesn't write reviews because she feels nobody reads them--if you pan a book, people don't know it. They see you reviewed it and go out and buy the book.

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Hello All,

I can't give Okri too hard a time. I know, a very long time ago, I wrote a review in which I was not totally honest. I tried that saying something positive crap and that seemed to be all the author read. Even to this day, I get books by the author and I still can't stand her writing! Yes, that sword can definitely cut both ways.

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Thumper YOU said something positive and did not mean it?! I would never have guessed that one.

Chris you might be right. Everyone changes (hopefully grows) overtime. I just re-read the Little Prince. I found it packing books in my office.

I did not find it any more profound today than when I read it 30+ years ago...

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