A couple of months ago I wrote a post about the seven arguments readers use - consciously or not - to form an opinion about a book (here's the link to that post).
The more reviews or impressions of books I read on blogs and Goodreads, the more it strikes me how often books get very low rates based on one (or both) of the first two arguments I mentioned then: the realistic argument and the moral argument.
A little recap of those 2 out of 7 arguments:
A book is good (or bad) when it’s projecting the world (un)realistically, when the story’s reality is (un)believable.
A book is good (or bad) when it contains certain ideas about sex, religion, morals or politics.
Especially the second argument can cause people to rate harshly when there's no match with their own morals. I noticed this seems to be more often the case when a story is set in a completely different world than ours with a different set of morals, for example regarding slavery or physical punishment and abuse. But also contemporary stories can fall from grace because of one immoral act or a character that doesn't act appropriate. Books with a BDSM theme in its more extreme varieties can become a deal breaker for some readers as well.
In that genre not only the moral but the realistic argument often comes into the game as well. It appears as if there are quite a few authors out there that "don't know what they're talking about" when they write about BDSM scenes and relationships and "definitely don't live the lifestyle themselves" (not my words). The stories that they write can not always count on the 'realistic' vote. And sometimes I can't help but wonder how these readers can possibly know... but alas.
Another trope that can always count on some disbelievers is the instant-love between two protags. There are quite some readers that totally don't like this happening in their romances because 'how realistic is it' to fall in love in 2, 3 days/hours or whatever short period of time?
I always feel a little gullible and amoral when I come across another reader's opinion like this of a book I also read and hadn't these concerns about. And when I haven't read the book yet, it never makes me think that I don't want to read the book because of that. I want to see for myself HOW the author handled the topic, the immoral bastard or the building of the unbelievable world. It's never the immoral act itself or the unbelievable action/setting in itself that makes me conclude the story isn't for me. It's always the way it is written that is more important to me.
Not that I don't avoid certain topics that I don't find very attractive. Of course, I have my own likes and dislikes (who doesn't?), but when I happen to stumble upon one of these tropes I like to avoid I would never say I hate the book just because I think incest is wrong or because I dislike humiliation and abuse, to name just a few examples. It depends on how the book is written if I'll think it's good or not.
For instance, I've once read a book about an old pedophile seducing a young guy (it's written by a Dutch author) which was much more than just about that. But the way the author described the feelings of the old man and paced the plot, was done so well, that I totally loved the book. She also left the moral judgement to her readers, she didn't tell us if her protagonist's behavior was good or bad, which challenged me to review my own opinions. Everything together made me conclude this was a great book, although I still think pedophilia is morally wrong.
In general I like to think of myself as quite open-minded and tolerant, although I learn new things about my own misconceptions every day (like only this week I was made aware of my ignorance regarding the topic of trans* people). Reading and talking about books always have helped me to learn and to look at things differently, because of the 'insiders' view a good author can give you to enhance your understanding of certain moral issues. When an author manages to create a believable story which is written so well that it can open your mind a little bit further, it's magical.
And it is what keeps me reading, because it goes for all the different genres I've read, even, or perhaps especially, for romance.
Happy Gay Friday!~