Should versus Want

One of the things I’ve felt since I’ve been reviewing is the kind of book you “should” read versus just the books you want to read. Now the main point of reviewing is of course to share your opinion on a book you wanted to read. Otherwise, what’s the point right?
Yet I get caught in this quagmire of what I should read and review as well. I don’t know if anyone else feels this way; if reviewers also feel this kind of pressure to read some books over others or if readers do too.

All I know is that sometimes I get a review request from books that I should read. Sometimes these are from a smaller press or they contain no erotica but a good concept. Sometimes these are from authors desperately trying to get some kind of commentary on their books or some kind of buzz going and they ask so nicely. I want to help these kinds of authors. I want to read their books, more for the idea of helping than because their book excites me.

Normally I push through this should versus want and convince myself I want to read these books. Sometimes I’m totally shocked and surprised and LOVE the book to pieces. This always makes me want to push through any immediate snap decisions and give another book a try. It helps me keep things fresh and interesting.

Yet the flip side to that is when I’m busy or stressed or uninspired, it’s a real struggle to read these books. I sometimes want nothing more than to read a bunch of (probably bad) erotica that is light, easy, and instantly forgettable. Sometimes I don’t really want to read the engrossing masterpieces. Sometimes I don’t want something meaty, complex, and lengthy to get through. Yanno, sometimes I just want the fluff.

However I rarely, if ever, review fluff books like that. I don’t feel it does the book any real justice. Usually these are not the best-written, most eloquent books. Usually these are pretty badly edited and have a plot that makes you want to roll your eyes. So taking that apart, exposing all the issues turns the book into a dirty little secret instead an enjoyable way to pass the time and forget it. These are books I occasionally want to read, but not necessarily the books I should read.

I notice that I get caught in this “should” versus “want” conspiracy much more when I’m reviewing. What about anyone else, does this happen to you? Do you get caught in what you should read versus what you want to read? Do you feel any pressure?

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10 thoughts on “Should versus Want

  1. Tam says:

    Hell yeah, but I’m getting better at avoiding the should demon, however it happens (will read those two books, honest). I adore fluff, I review fluff, I just make it clear that’s fluff and most people who’ve been around the genre long know which author’s produce fluff regularly.

    I’ve started saying I won’t read the Bittersweet stories anymore. I just don’t care for them and despite the quality of some of them, I have no interest in it. That’s going to reflect in my review which is unfair to the author. Thankfully so far I’ve been pretty much been able to read whatever I want and not felt much pressure to read what I SHOULD. Should is a nasty word.

    • I agree it’s a nasty word. It sets all sorts of preconceived notions on the books that are likely to affect how you feel about them. If you think you “should” read the book versus “wanting” to read the book, it’s already a negative perception going into it.

      I agree regarding the Bittersweet stories. I don’t particularly want to read them. I’ve heard authors going on about how romance doesn’t have to have a happy ending and great for them to expand their writing niches, I guess. As a reader, call me boring or w/e but I’d rather pass. I get all the unhappy endings I want from regular literature to be honest.

  2. I’m not big on “should”… but I am supposed to be reading books for an awards competition and I can’t exactly put those off forever, especially if a couple of them aren’t things that I’ll ever actually want to read.

    I do review the fluff books (although my reviewettes are far, far less comprehensive than your reviews!), because there’s enjoyable fluff and poorly done annoying fluff. If I can steer people away from the crap fluff, yay. 🙂 But I have to agree, most fluff (however well done) doesn’t lend itself to long reviews.

    • See I think we all have books that we need or should read for whatever reasons (awards, competitions, reviews, whatever). It happens. I just am feeling a little rebellious against the shoulds vs. the wants of late.

      I don’t think there’s anything wrong with fluff. As Tam said there are several authors that have made somewhat lucrative careers out of publishing nothing but… whenever I go to read fluff I check out GR and look at the ratings not the reviews. I look at yours, Kris’, Tam’s star ratings and see if the fluff is worthwhile. When it’s fluff, what is there to review?

  3. I used to feel a real pressure to read the classics when I was an English lit teacher – I was worried some student would catch me out for not having read some great work of literature and denounce me as a fraud. Usually I was pleasantly surprised at how readable the classics were (War and Peace, anyone?) – although not so enamoured of the latest trendy lit fic novels (A Heart Breaking Work of Staggering Genius was no such thing)

    Nowadays I only ever feel a slight pressure to read certain things – it can be difficult when another author befriends me online – I might like them personally, but I don’t always like their writing style. I find myself increasingly reluctant to read things by people who befriend me in case I just don’t know what to say to them about it. I don’t tell anyone I’m going to read their stories anymore and do it in secret.

    I do currently have two Rainbow Award entries left to read and I’m not enthusiastic about the sound of either of them. I suppose I’ll just have to plough on through the resistance.

    • Oh those classics. Thankfully I went through a phase where I wanted to read nothing but those so I’ve read ’em all but not sure I’d go back there. I spent one summer reading everything Shakespeare had written but not sure I’d do that again. I will say they were always much better when I was into the books then when I forced myself to get into them.

      I think as I get older I have less time and energy to worry about the “should” books in life and just focus on the want to books. If you only have 2 books in the should category you have to push through, that’s pretty impressive. I think my list is in the triple digits and chances of pushing through that are slim to none sadly.

  4. Right at the moment. I’m reading the final book in a series. I want to know what happens, but…I really would rather skip to the last chapter. But I feel like I ‘should’ finish it.

    And let’s not get into all those highbrow books I have yet to read. Catcher in the Rye anyone?

    • Oh let’s pretend you didn’t say that. Catcher in the Rye is one of the better “classics” but seriously I hate just about anything Dickens wrote (with the christmas exception).

      • Heh – nice to know I’m not the only discerning reader who can’t stand Dickens. Sometimes I feel I must be missing the point, but I just can’t see what all the fuss is about.

        But Catcher in the Rye is a gorgeous novel, I agree.

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