Piles o’ Books, and a Question about Opinion

The Amazon and eBay gods have been smiling upon me, as well as the library gods, so I have several historical novels to read. I’m in the middle of My Lady of Cleves by Margaret Campbell Barnes, and so far I think it’s the best of her novels I’ve read. More to come.

I’ve got Two Women of Galilee by Mary Roarke teetering on my coffee table, and Myself as Witness by James Goldman (about King John) and Lionheart by Martha Rofheart are stacked on my bookshelf. I’m particularly interested in the James Goldman book. He was the author of The Lion in Winter, a play that I find immensely fun to watch. This is supposed to be a more sympathetic view of John than his portrayal in the play, though from the little skimming I’ve done, it doesn’t appear to be a whitewash of his character.

By the way, I think most people, including myself, will be inclined to pick up a book if it’s recommended by someone whose opinion they respect, but what about the opposite situation? I ask because one of the main reasons I bought the Goldman book was because a poster on a list that I read occasionally was trashing Goldman in general and The Lion in Winter in particular, and I figured that anything this particular poster disliked so much had to be worth reading. What about you folks in Blogland? Are there critics, professional or otherwise, whom you find so off-putting for whatever reason that you figure that anything they dislike has to have something going for it? (I could mention politicians and evangelists who have the same effect on me, but I’ll leave that to the political bloggers.)

3 thoughts on “Piles o’ Books, and a Question about Opinion”

  1. That’s a good question. I can’t think of any critics whose opinions are usually the exact opposite of mine, aside from political ones. On the other hand, there are some critics whose reviews I normally ignore (aside from the plot summaries) because I know they don’t have a clue how to review historical fiction.

  2. I have some people whose recommendations I usually follow, and one “now I’m buying it because you don’t like it, neiner, neiner.”

    Else, what often is helpful for me are reviews that point out details and enable me to judge myself. It can be something that is a pet peeve for me and makes me not buy a book, or it can be something that is a problem for some but not for me (like fe. the distanced characterization claimed for Wallace Breem’s Eagle in the Snow). And while I don’t give much on Amazon reviews overall, some such detailed ones have influenced my decision.

  3. The film and TV critic in the local paper when I was at school was always a reliable opposite. If he panned a film or programme I knew I’d probably like it and vice versa. I can’t think of anyone similar on books, though. Like Gabriele, I look for details that are likely to attract or repel me.

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