Don’t praise too much
I’ve never forgotten something that happened in my French class in January 2005. The Phantom of the Opera had just opened a few days before and my French instructor and two other classmates were raving about the movie. They kept saying how great it was, the best movie ever!
Well, I had dreamed about watching The Phantom of the Opera at Broadway, but the only one I was able to go to was Miss Saigon (the only one that still had tickets when I was in NY).
Anyway, I convinced my husband to go watch the movie with me, which was not that hard seeing as he likes singing “The Music of The Night” in the shower (shh don’t tell him that I told you that!). Also, he had watched Moulin Rouge with me and liked it.
Of course, I told him how wonderful and incredible my teacher and my classmates said the movie was.
Of course, with some much expectation, I was disappointed. And so was my husband.
I didn’t love the movie. I liked it, yes, but I thought it would rock my world, like I was told it would.
Since then I realized that praising is twofold.
Last year, I read an article (in Portuguese, sorry if I don’t link it here) about praising children. Researchers divided 200 kids in two groups and gave problems for them to solve. After finishing, group A was praised with “wow, you did this? you’re so intelligent, congratulations” and group B was praised with “wow, you did this? you really pushed yourself here, congratulations”. See the difference? Well, after that, they gave more problems to be solved to these two groups. What happened? Group A didn’t solve anything while group B solved it all really fast. Then they interviewed children from both groups. Kids from group A said they didn’t work on the second wave of problems because they knew they could do it. Group B attested they wanted to prove they could do more. See?
Want a real example? Everyone keeps telling my daughter she is really pretty. A few days ago I told her she was pretty. She turned to me and said “I know” with a snob shrug. Note: she is only 4!!! After that, I sent a copy of that article to all my family members and close friends and asked: stop telling her she is pretty—at least not all the time! Seriously, I don’t want a vain daughter.
You see how praising is twofold. We want to praise to encourage but we can actually confuse a child’s mind.
Well, back to the main topic: praising in books.
I like reviews. I even look at reviews on Amazon and Goodreads before buying a book from an unknown author or some author I’ve never read before, specially how many stars the book has. I like review blogs. I like when someone who knows my tastes comes and recommends me a book. But I always become cautious when these reviews or the word of mouth comes with “oh, I love it” or “it was the best book ever” … hmm, really?
I’ve learned my lesson. I don’t let these superb praising fog my mind—as I frown at one-star reviews too. Some people out there are just mean and give one-star for BS, if you ask me, but that’s for another post.
Of course we want to hear the best from our books, but don’t you hate when you hear only great things about a book, then, you read it and don’t like it that much? It happened to all of us, I’m sure.
I would advise being careful on praising. People don’t like the same things (and that’s what makes this world so interesting IMO … again, that’s for another post). The book that changed your life may be a dead weight for someone else.
Don’t come to me with “oh, the best book ever!” cause it’ll probably hinder the chances the book has of being read by me.
Praise is good for our ego … but like everything, too much is not good.