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Old 08-14-2016, 07:27 AM   #1
Zelandi
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Is there any form for evaluating books?

Well, is there any form for evaluating e-books? Or books in general..

I've come across a few books once in a while that I just don't like as much as I thought I would. I'm sure you all have had that experience at some point

It's usually books where I feel the concept and storyline is interesting but something with the way it's written down just takes the joy out of reading. And I can't put my finger on what it is, which annoys me greatly

I'm just thinking that a form or text about evaluating fictional text and use of language could help me understand and put words on what it is in a certain book that I don't like. Maybe even get over it enough to enjoy the parts of the story-line that I do find interesting...

I've realized that one of my issues is that I don't like reading stories in present tense. I prefer past tense.. but perhaps I can get used to it. I've enjoyed some stories written in present tense, so I don't think that's the only thing that puts me off some other books...

Do you know any text that could help me putting words on my reading experience?
What's important for you when you read a fictional book?
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Old 08-14-2016, 07:53 AM   #2
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I don't know any text for evaluating a book, but I know that reading books/blogs/how tos about writing good books have helped me understand what bothers me about a book I read.

The different tenses and the point of view a book can be written from, all have their own merits and problems. Handling them correctly is not an easy task.

Things that usually bother me a lot:
- Breaking of the rule "Show, don't tell"
- A narrator that jumps around heads inside a scene
- Dialog that tries to make sure I know who is talking by using the names all the time.

There are others that feel off somehow, but normally I have to think more about them to see what it is.
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Old 08-14-2016, 09:30 AM   #3
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You may wish to investigate a number of critical texts on Reader-Response Theory, most notably from critics Wolfgang Iser and Stanley Fish.

These are technical books, by the way, but they may help you formulate a critical perception and a working vocabulary that may assist you in evaluating and commenting upon works that attract your attention.
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Old 08-14-2016, 09:59 AM   #4
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Sunlite - Good idea. I'm reading a page/blog about writing fiction already (it has good points but I'm getting lost in the sub-pages and I'll google around for more examples anyhow). Do you have any specific blogs/sites/books in mind?

Telling rather than showing, it's a kind of thing that can make a story feel flat and a bit distant?
I recognize the dialog issue, I think that's one of the most annoying thing I can think of. At the moment.

Dr. Drib - Did you mean any specific book written by Iser or Fish?
I googled and found a lot of academic texts and what seems like meta-analyses on the theory (I'll check the references and see if I can manage to read through the sources... although I'd hope for a light version in a blog or something )

I found some wiki explaining the theory a bit. Sounds a lot like the communication theories we've had lectures about in school - how communication never is just one-way. The listener interprets what's said, hopefully but rarely in a way close to what the talker intended. We applied it to text books, but I never thought about it with fiction. That's interestiong.
I'll investigate this theory further.

Btw, I'm not familiar with the term ''technical books''.. it makes me think of IKEAs manuals or something. But does it mean scientific/academic texts?
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Old 08-14-2016, 10:21 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zelandi View Post
Btw, I'm not familiar with the term ''technical books''.. it makes me think of IKEAs manuals or something. But does it mean scientific/academic texts?
Pretty much, yes. Anything which is aimed at a serious student of a subject, rather than being written for a popular audience.
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Old 08-14-2016, 10:26 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by HarryT View Post
Pretty much, yes. Anything which is aimed at a serious student of a subject, rather than being written for a popular audience.
Thank you
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Old 08-14-2016, 11:11 AM   #7
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Thank you for the topic.

I get requests from Amazon to review my (book) purchases.

When I contacted them about guidance on selecting which buttons (image), they were clueless. I come from Industry where thing are measured to standards.
I wanted a simple guide:
If this, choose A.
A short examples of the different writing perspective.

The whole point of having a 'Standard', is the result has a similar meaning to everyone.
I don't expect everyone to LIKE the book, but 'Dark' should mean the same thing, not being shaded by locale.
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Old 08-14-2016, 11:38 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zelandi View Post
I've come across a few books once in a while that I just don't like as much as I thought I would. I'm sure you all have had that experience at some point

It's usually books where I feel the concept and storyline is interesting but something with the way it's written down just takes the joy out of reading. And I can't put my finger on what it is, which annoys me greatly
I've had this experience pretty often during all my reading years. I've found it impossible to put in words and also impossible to foresee. Something just isn't there for me. Quite often (not always, of course) it's a book that many people like very much, but it leaves me totally cold.
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Old 08-14-2016, 01:28 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zelandi View Post
Sunlite - Good idea. I'm reading a page/blog about writing fiction already (it has good points but I'm getting lost in the sub-pages and I'll google around for more examples anyhow). Do you have any specific blogs/sites/books in mind?

Telling rather than showing, it's a kind of thing that can make a story feel flat and a bit distant?
I recognize the dialog issue, I think that's one of the most annoying thing I can think of. At the moment.

Dr. Drib - Did you mean any specific book written by Iser or Fish?
I googled and found a lot of academic texts and what seems like meta-analyses on the theory (I'll check the references and see if I can manage to read through the sources... although I'd hope for a light version in a blog or something )

I found some wiki explaining the theory a bit. Sounds a lot like the communication theories we've had lectures about in school - how communication never is just one-way. The listener interprets what's said, hopefully but rarely in a way close to what the talker intended. We applied it to text books, but I never thought about it with fiction. That's interestiong.
I'll investigate this theory further.

Btw, I'm not familiar with the term ''technical books''.. it makes me think of IKEAs manuals or something. But does it mean scientific/academic texts?

You should look at "The Act of Reading: A Theory of Aesthetic Response," by Wolfgang Iser.

Secondarily, you might look at "The Implied Reader: Patterns of Communication in Prose Fiction from Bunyan to Beckett."

With regard to Stanley Fish, you may wish to examine "Is There A Text in the Class," a well-known volume in the evolution of literary criticism and Reader-Response criticism in particular.

I have all of these, but unfortunately they're in storage at the moment.

Stanley Fish also has a lay book for popular consumption, entitled "How To Write A Sentence," which (I just checked) is also available in a Kindle edition. However, this book is not primarily concerned with Reader-Response criticism, but nevertheless should be useful in untangling and appreciating sentence structures from a number of different writers.

Last edited by Dr. Drib; 08-14-2016 at 05:51 PM.
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