Blogger and teacher Larry Davidson from Weston, MA had a close look at the reviews of Babel at amazon.com. And like myself, he didn’t like what he saw. But he could do, and did, what I could never do: review the reviewers (without mincing his words).
I’ll reproduce his first few paragraphs here before sending you off to the man himself – who I’ve never met or spoken to in my life, I should add. But is he a friend? You bet.
So here’s Larry Davidson’s blogpost:
As Tom Lehrer famously said, “the reason most reviews on Amazon are so atrocious is that they were written by the people.”
Actually, that’s not quite what he said. He actually said “the reason most folk songs are so atrocious is that they were written by the people.” But it’s exactly the same idea; there’s no editorial eye on members of the general public who write reviews on Amazon, Google, and Yelp. So it’s not just Amazon, but I’ll use that as my example.
Yesterday I reviewed Babel by Gaston Dorren. My review was positive — enthusiastic, in fact. Now of course opinions differ, and de gustibus non est disputandum, so it doesn’t bother me if you dislike a book I like, or if you like a book I dislike. You can even think Dan Brown is a good writer for all I care. But some things about non-professional reviews do bother me. Let’s use the Amazon reviews of Babel as an instructive example. Half of the reviewers gave 4 or 5 stars, so obviously those people are discerning and thoughtful.😉 What we want to do is look at the reviewers who gave 1–3 stars. Maybe they were discerning and thoughtful too, and all we have is a difference of opinion.
In some cases that was indeed what was going on. Continue reading ➝.
I have been fascinated by language since I was a child. I love the layout and approach you took in Babel. It seems like some of the Amazon reviewers wanted to read it like a novel, whereas I loved being able to treat each chapter as an entity in itself, full of fascinating information. I haven’t read the whole book yet, but I have read most of it. I love it and I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone interested in the diversity of language and culture.
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Thank you, Joan! I’m happy to hear you’re liking it, and I much appreciate the recommendations.
Gaston. I loved both your books. The whole point about reading books on the subject of languages is: 1) you have to like languages and 2) you have to want to learn something. Your books are educational, instructive and interesting to read. Don’t be discouraged.
Thank you! And no worries, I’m far from discouraged.