Person X: Oh, you review books? Are you writing one yourself?
Me: Oh, no, I have no interest in writing a book. I prefer just to read and review the books I choose.
Person X: So you aren’t a writer?
Me: No, not professionally. I do write but I have no plans on publishing.
Person X: So what gives you the qualifications to review an author’s work? Without experience as a writer yourself, what gives you the right?
I went on to explain that I, as a reader, am given the right to review a title once I a. buy it and/or b. read it. I’m investing my time in reading that novel, devoting time that I could be spending doing something else.
What does being a writer have to do with it? Does it lessen the experience I have while reading the book? To me, that feeling, that experience is what I am reviewing. I don’t consider myself to be a critic; I do not analyze a book’s elements and examine it down to its skeleton. I don’t want to. For me, that takes the enjoyment out of reading. Instead,I talk about how the book made me felt, whether I appreciated the story or connected with the characters., etc.
Does this make me less of a reviewer? I think it does the opposite; it allows me to share the experience with other readers, giving them an insight into what makes/breaks that particular novel. I read for entertainment, for knowledge, but mostly, I read for the experience.
What say you? Have you ever been questioned about what gives you the right to review a book?