At newspapers, even on book pages, the commenters are often snotty.
Bloggers are usually more nurturing of one another’s efforts. At book blogs we comment, “Great post!” or “I want to read this.” There is a kind of community.
Of course it is not always a love fest. At my old blog, I occasionally disabled the comments feature, because I was unhappy with negative remarks. And so I fled to Mirabile Dictu, my under-the-radar blog, where only three subjects cause dissension: Jane Austen, Jane Eyre, and Angela Thirkell.
It’s nothing I can’t handle.
And I shouldn’t condemn the newspaper commenters, because I myself have come to no good commenting. A couple of times I did at The Guardian. You read so many odd comments that you think, Okay, I’ll join in. And then you regret it, because it is there forever.
The only good thing I can say is I wasn’t snotty.
Often when I read comments on book pages I think, Get a blog! Bloggers think a little harder before they judge journalism or books.
The most annoying comments of all can be found in The Guardian’s “What You’re Saying” features, which are made up entirely of comments from readers. What are the writers getting paid for?
Today I read one of the comment articles, which was titled: “Choose the best and worst 21st-century novels – open thread.”
In the very short body of the article, we are told we can disagree with Dave. Who is Dave?
Apparently there is something called TV Channel Dave, where 2,000 people were recently polled about the best and worst books of the 21st century.
Dave’s best books are:
• Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling • Life of Pi by Yann Martel • The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins • Atonement by Ian McEwan • The Help by Kathryn Stockett • The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman • We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver • No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy • Pompeii by Robert Harris
And the worst books are:
• Angel by Katie Price • Fifty Shades Trilogy by EL James • A Whole New World by Katie Price • Learning to Fly by Victoria Beckham • The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
I cannot say that “Dave” has very good taste.
The commenters mostly talk about their own lists. At least one of them mentioned Will Self’s Umbrella, which some agreed was difficult. One or two were annoyed by it.
In no particular order, here are a few of the comments I read.
It does get silly. People brush up on their obscure books list trying to trump everyone else’s obscure books. Should I mention here that my particular fave is my Sanskrit-English dictionary (Monier-Williams)?
doubt if many people have heard, let alone read, any on your best list. But thanks. the enemy
You and TheEnemy shouldn’t be on here, you should be waltzing around spitting on the Mensa members for being cretins.
Where is the community of newspaper commenters? More writing from The Guardian’s writers, please!