Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon: Am I a threat to literature?

This is the week when I learned that my ramblings on this blog pose a threat to literature. Peter Stothard, editor of the Times Literary Supplement, considers people like me are undermining the status of literary criticism.

Sitting in my study, happily tapping away at the keyboard, I never dreamt I was wielding so much influence. I thought I was just sharing my own personal experience and love of reading with other similarly interested people. Stothard however believes the rise of blogs is bad for readers:

…. as much as one would like to think that many bloggers opinions are as good as others. It just ain’t so. People will be encouraged to buy and read books that are no good, the good will be overwhelmed, and we’ll be worse off.

He seems to miss the point that many bloggers don’t set them selves up to be anything other than enthusiasts. We don’t claim to have special knowledge or expertise beyond that of being the target audience for people who write and publish books. Is Stothard suggesting that readers shouldn’t share their reactions with others – so would he like to see the end of book clubs and reading circles also?  And maybe he would be happy if we stopped talking about it to work colleagues and friends over lunch? Isn’t he forgetting the fact that many books (Fifty Shades of Grey, Da Vinci Code and Harry Potter to name just a few) became best sellers based on word of mouth recommendations?

Here is the report on Stothard’s comments: .

And now for other news….

End of another week and I am still behind with posting reviews on some books I’ve read recently.  I did finally get to review a novel I read while on holiday – Shadow of the Wind.  But I’ve yet to post my comments on Bring up the Bodies which I finished about six weeks ago let alone Pure by Andrew Miller which I read last week and Northern Lights which I also finished. I’m also still behind on reading for the Classics Club- am only half way through North and South even though I am enjoying it so far. Better luck next week maybe.


What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

9 thoughts on “Sunday Salon: Am I a threat to literature?

  • I also worked at a small daily newspaper for 20 years as a features editor and watched while all my friends left one by one. Finally, I left a little more than a decade ago. It was great fun while it lasted. Among many other things I wrote local theater reviews and some book reviews. While I watched the business die, I lost sympathy for those who could not seem to get beyond bemoaning the loss. I have great hope. I think book readers and writers are finding new ways to respond to books.

  • Hi Barbara – I started my career in newspapers as did my husband though neither of us work in that field now. It’s sad that so many households don’t get a daily newspaper now – their children grow up without that exposure. Part of the problem is this habit we seem to have acquired for wanting info in bite size pieces. It’s much quicker to scan the headlines on Yahoo than it is to actually read a newspaper.

  • I think his arguments are silly. It’s a shame newspapers are dying — and newspaper journalists are going with them, but they just are. For some it’s a long goodbye. But it’s still bye bye for most papers. There are reasons fewer and fewer people are reading them — and seeking alternative ways of getting info online.
    Did readers always trust reviewers? Do they trust the author blurb writers? Or the peer reviewers. I don’t. I read a variety of opinions and try to figure out if I would agree with the writer or not depending on how they look at the work discussed. I also look for lively, interesting writing.

  • I think we should abolish all book-related sites like LibraryThing, GoodReads, and reviews on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Just think about all those AVERAGE people who can state their opinions! We might be influenced by our peers instead of the better-informed critics. *gasp*

    • Love it Rachel – maybe you should start a campaign!

  • Word of mouth reviewing, or blogging, can be more trustworthy, not less. Stothard’s views sound stuffy and his reasonings flawed.

    • Good point Susan – if the recommendation comes from someone who sounds just like us, then we are more likely to accept them. Think about all those people who went out and bought A Brief History of Time because the experts told us it was wonderful. Most ordinary people got baffled after the first page….

  • Well, that is an interesting point….but I like yours. Without book blogging, many people would not find the books that are so enjoyable. I know I was stuck in a groove, a kind of one-note reading existence. And now my perspective has shifted…broadened.


    • Exactly Laura – without bloggers and reading circles etc, our horizons could become limiting. I’ve only been blogging for seven months or so but already I’ve been introduced to authors I’ve not encountered before (you can take credit for introducing me to Elizabeth Taylor!). Ok, I might find them through reading the books sections in newspapers etc but they have only limited space and often are rather too esoteric for my taste.


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