Is reading reviews OK?

Here’s post no. 2 from Selected Audiobooks …

I’m not a subscriber to YALSA-BK, but some of my committee colleagues read it, and wrote to the Selected Audiobooks listserv about a recent spate of postings about audiobooks and whether it’s appropriate for teens to listen to (as opposed to reading) required and/or summer reading titles.

They noted that that discussion soon morphed into one about favorite audiobooks, and they realized that many of the books that YALSA-BK posters had said were their favorites had not – in fact — risen to the top for them. (In our listserv discussions about the YALSA-BK listserv discussion, no titles were mentioned, so I truly don’t know which books anyone here is talking about.) One colleague wondered if it was appropriate for a member of Selected Audiobooks to write about audiobooks that she’s enjoyed (and perhaps nominated) in a public forum like YALSA-BK. Is she inappropriately sharing what should remain an internal discussion and/or skewing an electronic conversation by posting an opinion as a member of our committee? Are we being unduly influenced by others’ opinions when we read reviews or listservs like YALSA-BK?

I leapt in with “heck, no!” to this query, since our committee deliberations are public (although our listserv discussions are not), and any of our opinions are just that – our own opinions. I went on (because I do go on and on …) to say that I thought that we represented the larger YALSA membership as committee members and that to share our opinions about why we thought something was great (or not so) as an audiobook was – in fact – a service to the membership. I share my opinions freely – and fully identified as my opinions – on my blog, which I am shyly sharing with you today [but for some reason the YALSA blog software doesn’t like blogspot, so it’s not linking here, so here’s how you find it: readingwithmyears dot blogspot dot com]. I am sharing shyly, because my blog is very basic and is not nearly as entertaining as Betsy Bird’s or Tasha Saecker’s Kids Lit or Hip Librarians [whose blog address doesn’t make the YALSA blog software happy either, but can be found by Googling hip librarians] or some other blog I don’t know about. I also said that I found reading others’ opinions helped me to consider other aspects of a book that I had overlooked or dismissed for one reason or another. I say, bring on all opinions!

But, truly what we want to know is … what do you think? Should we post our thoughts about audiobooks in public forums like YALSA-BK? Should we avoid all reviews and postings about titles we’re considering? Why don’t other committee members (BBYA, most notably) post to book discussion forums?

Posted by Lee Catalano

One thought on “Is reading reviews OK?”

  1. I think that reviews of audio books should be included. There are many reasons why a teen (or anyone) might choose to listen to a book rather than reading it in print, and I don’t think it is my job (as a public librarian) to question those reasons. Some audio books are vastly better than others, regardless of the quality of the original written material. I hate the audio of Gregory Maguire’s Wicked, for example, because the person reading sounds exactly like Winny the Pooh. On the other hand, Stephen King’s Desperation was greatly improved by Kathy Bates’ dramatic voice acting. These things would be GREAT to know when helping patrons. Which SOUNDS better Eragon or Pendragon: Merchant of Death? I would love to get reviews including this information!

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