Why Angry Birds Are Funnier Than Happy Birds: On Negativity

I think I write better angry reviews than I do happy ones.  Well, maybe I just have more fun writing angry reviews than happy ones.  I cannot objectively judge the quality.

That's rather a human tendency, though, isn't it?  This article from the New York Times discusses how our brain actually stores negative experiences more than positive ones.  If we remember our mistakes, we can (theoretically) learn from them.  Unfortunately, it doesn't usually work out that way.  We end up remembering our most mortifying moments and beating ourselves up over past events over which we have no control.

Wait.  Is that just me?

Anyway.  Any bad experience will stick with you longer than a good one.  I vividly remember giving the wrong answer once in my history class.  Yeah, I was a nerd, and so this was a Big Deal for Me, plus I was a freshman in a class full of upperclassmen.  People counted on me and my nerdiness and for a moment I faltered.  I still remember that. 

Perhaps my affinity for negativity influences my book reviews.  I don't enjoy reading books that are not well-written, or that have inappropriate content (and by "inappropriate" I mean rape apologists, misogeny, or racist content that may not "mean to be racist" but, yeah, it's racist). 

However, since I feel very strongly that teens deserve well-written books (that means no typos, no hard-hearted abuse of apostrophes, no pathetic fallacies (or very few), and no slut-shaming (which is kind of a misleading term because this tactic is used to shame someone by a) labeling them a "slut" and then b) shaming them. It has nothing to do with the person's love life, really.  But that's another post and I'm like three parentheses deep here.).

Teens deserve to read about meaningful relationships, realistic situations in realism, fantastic situations in fantasy, and hey--here's a novel thought!--they deserve to read about people like themselves.  That's why the #weneeddiversebooks campaign completely exploded.  Teens who didn't see themselves in literature found an outlet to express themselves, to tell publishers and authors and editors, "Hey! I am Muslim and I use a wheelchair and there are no protagonists like me."  Or whatever their particular situation is.

And guess what?  That doesn't just apply to teens.  It applies to all books, everywhere.  Don't insult me by trying to fob off a sloppy manuscript as a polished book that I would want to spend my money on or spend the library's money on (so sorry, ending in prepositions, so lazy).  I've addressed this issue before in my post on criticism.  Don't blatantly copy someone else's idea and market it as your own.  A thin veneer of vampirism/zombies/angels can't disguise the fact that you're just writing the same story that's already sold a bajillion (actual number) copies.

When I read a book that I like and that I think other people would enjoy reading, I actually have less to say about it.  I want you to go read it.  Why would I recap every single thing in the book if I want you to go read it?  Generally, my positive reviews are shorter than my negative ones.  You could be spending the time you are spending reading my review reading the book.

When I read (or mostly read) a book that doesn't live up to the hype, or is poorly executed, or is somehow offensive, or is just plain bad, I want to convince you not to read it.  I will happily furnish you with gobs upon gobs of proof why you should not read this book.  I may (read: probably almost always) rely up sarcasm and exaggeration to prove my point.  This is a release of the pent-up frustration I felt at being subjected to the book in question.  My coworkers can attest to the fact that when I am angry or frustrated, my typing becomes very loud and very fast.  Some books give the keyboard bruises (sorry, keyboard!).

There was an old commercial that ran on TV Land over 10 years ago.  I know it was that long ago because I found mention of it on a ... very interesting LiveJournal page from that year.  Yes, the font was Comic Sans and it was neon green.  Yeesh.  Anyway.  I can't seem to find the clip anywhere on the web, but at the end, Adam, in that smooth, suave voice of his, says, "Because life's too short to watch crap."

Life's too short to read bad books.  If I've wasted my time on a book, I don't want anybody else to do so.


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