A book lying open on a table with pages blowing over.

What’s Not Here

What You Won’t Find on Joy Reads:

You won’t find bad reviews. I’m not going to tell you that I’ve never met a book I didn’t like. I’ve met plenty of books I didn’t like. I used to read them anyway. But now I am not an idealistic teen with notions about what books do and do not deserve. I am a practical adult with notions about what books do and do not deserve. Every book deserves to be enjoyed. But when I am not enjoying the book, I am done. I will let someone else enjoy it instead. And I most certainly will not write about all the things I didn’t like, claiming that the author was “wrong” to do it that way, and slap it on the internet, feeling self-righteous. (Which is not to say that I am never self-righteous. I am even self-righteous about books I didn’t like. Just not on the internet. The internet has enough trouble as it is.)

You won’t find misery. I do not enjoy misery. So books like G. R. R. M, Jay Kristoff, and Brent Weeks write, books in which they drag characters through every form of cruelty they can manage in 600 pages, and leave you truly, deeply unsure if anyone will be anything —other than relieved it’s over— at the end are not books I read. Plenty of other people like and review these books.

You won’t find (a lot of) epic fantasy. I have this difficulty with the Epic genre. The books tend to have a slightly dry, despairing taste to them. They accomplish this in a variety of ways, but the feeling of watching people you might not actually like try to make things better in a world that probably won’t get better is too frustrating for me to read. Kate Elliot, Daniel Abraham, and even Robert Jordan (undeniably a powerhouse in the fantasy world) give me this sinking, futile feeling.

You won’t find a lot of literary or mainstream fiction. Literary fiction gives me that futile feeling like epic fantasy, and mainstream fiction tends to be a little bit bland to my taste. (So do carrots, but there are heaps of people who think carrots are amazing. That’s why it’s called taste and not ‘complete fact.’)

You won’t find grime, gore, or zombies. I don’t like gross things. I deal with enough squick in my day job, and I don’t need it in my free time.

You won’t find bedroom action. Golly, that’s a prudish euphemism. Well, fine. What goes on in other people’s beds, even imaginary people in imaginary beds, is none of my business. End of story.

You won’t find content warnings. With all that I’m selective about the gore, grimness, and getting busy that I read, I’m not reading or writing for a child audience. Please do not assume that because I reviewed a book appropriate for middle grade that everything I reviewed is appropriate for middle grade. If you are looking for books for a younger person than, say, sixteen, please try my goodreads lists*, which are curated for age-appropriate reading in a variety of genres.

You won’t find lots of critical analysis. I’m here to share books that I have read and enjoyed. I’m not here to push the boundaries of literature as we know it, nor will I examine in detail the plots, motivations, worlds, characters and mechanisms of the books I read. I call the space “Ramblings” because I am here to ramble. Some of these reviews are on first impressions, and will contain things that I noticed the first time, while I was trying to keep track of the plot. Some reviews are on re-reads, where I will notice things less obvious (I hope) or just different.

If these sorts of things are what you’re looking for, I wish you the best of luck finding a place that will share them with you!

*Coming soon!

Photo of a book with turning pages credit:
Luke Palmer