Why Book Reviews and Critiques Are Essentially Pointless.

Brooke Meredith
4 min readNov 26, 2019
Photo by Chris Lawton on Unsplash

Because “good writing” is, for the most part, relative and decided on by the eye of the beholder.

Good grammar aside, the books that people like, and the writing they deem quality, and the stories they find most memorable, are going to differ from person to person.

Each book will speak to someone. Potentially if the author is lucky, even many someones.

No one experiences the same book in the same way.

Take two separate reviews of the same book, a debut literary novel from a NY publisher. One remarked on the authors appealing ability and talent to “turn a phrase” and thus, write well. The other review remarked on her bumbling, stilted prose. Then, get this, both reviews quoted the same line from her book as an example! One remarking of its quality, the other on its apparent lack thereof.

This tells all you need to know about both “good” writing, as well as, just about everything we critique throughout our culture and lives at large.

All of it is almost entirely opinion and personal perspective.

Thus, there is no “good” writing (proper grammar aside).

Any given story or piece of writing that lights up, inspires, grips, or moves one person will do nothing for another.

Take any book, and you will find people who love it, as well as people who loathe it.

What thrills one person can repel another.

Prose that reads like poetry to one person will feel long-winded and boring to another.

Heart swooning sentiment and romantic symbolism will be a favorite of many readers, while others will find it cheesy and dull.

You get the idea.

Thus, listening to critiques and praise, leaning too heavily on or taking such too seriously is akin to attempting to keep one’s eye on hundreds of birds arching into the sky simultaneously, all flying in varying directions. It’s akin to attempting to serve 100 different people a drink, at the exact same time, with only your two arms.

No matter what you write (or create, or do in your life), there will always be someone who likes it, and always someone who…