Critically Engaging With Literature #BeCritical

My thoughts on reading and reviewing books critically. Or maybe instructions on asking literature for its hand in marriage. You’ll have to watch to find out.

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Funny enough, my friend and I actually talked about this issue in the relation to certain book tubers who make reviews on books. Good ideas on tackling this issue.

Kathleen Ann says:

Great video! For me it is all about slowing down, taking my time, and thinking about what I am reading. I do better with critical reading when I take notes and being on BookTube really helps me too because I feel like I owe it to my subscribers to give a good review. You are excellent at this and that is why I love your channel so much.

TimeAndChance says:

Congrats on 10K subbies.

What do you feel is the distinction between having a positive drawn out discussion of a piece of lit. & a heated argument over the merits & demerits of the same piece of lit.? It may be a matter of differing perceptions between the different persons involved. For instance, one person’s discussion is seen by the other person as debate (which for this person is a whole different ball game). Further, can anything positive be gained from a heated row over some book or other where a lot of parties seemingly end up with proverbial ruffled feathers?

Being critical may mean to tear down. That’s why I prefer to use words like critical/analytical or critical-analytical to describe what I’m doing with said book I’m reading and/or discussing. Ah yes, semantics & word choice. (-: 

One of my fav books to read these months is a short tome called An Experiment in Criticism by none other than the Oxford Lit. don CS Lewis. Among other things the author criticizing literary critics. I find it kinda fun to critique the critic criticizer. (-: Books are fun! 

I’d love to hear your review of the George Eliot essay ‘Silly Novels by Lady Novelists’ should you ever choose to do it. 

SCSreads says:

I really liked what you said about thinking critically and that it’s okay to pose the questions, even if you don’t know the answers. Bad Feminist had been on my TBR for a while and I’m really looking forward to reading her essays.

Andy McKinney says:

For me the type of exercise you are referring to is what I would call engaging with the text – looking at it as if you were studying it at school. You examine its content and style and evaluate them. This is where the whole minefield of semantics comes in because I believe you mean critical in this more scholarly sense that I have outlined rather than the popular, vernacular sense of excoriation.

Ron L says:

Oh goodness you’re the best. This is the best. I love your ideas about how books can change you, and your discussion of critical comments on youtube itself. Eeeeeee! 

Yusra Babamia says:

This was a pretty inspiring video, your thoughts are quite interesting and a lot of the points you brought up really got me thinking. I just want to commend you on the respect you’ve shown throughout your video and thank you for opening my mind a bit more. Sometimes I struggle to allow myself to “criticise” or really put my own input about a certain piece of literature for fear of disrespecting the opinions of others as i feel i might have done before but I now realised that it’s just my opinion and it’s okay to share.

Sarai Talks Books says:

Very interesting video Ashley, I’m glad you brought this up. I’ve watched other videos on criticism here on BookTube but not everyone is as succinct as you are (teach me your ways!) or brings up points quite like you do. I love that you talked about terrible authors and how we should still be critical of their works, I admit I’m guilty of reading with “blinders” on when it comes to certain authors…lots to think about. I have a feeling I’ll be watching this video more than once. 

Caitlin Vanasse says:

Thank you! Being critical is definitely a skill to develop and work over time and it’s something I’m hoping to do more as I engage with book tube more. Being critical in conversion about books can add to your understanding of them where uncritical live or hate does not. says:

 Great Video! I really appreciate that you took the time to comment on this. I especially liked your cometary on how to handle criticism from others, and that just because you are critical of something, or find it flawed, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it. I think your thoughts on this matter could be applied to many other media. As always I found this video very insightful and as a result has me thinking more about the way I read and consume media.

Fariba Kanga says:

This is so true! I have been reading the writings of Soren Kierkegaard off and on for almost 5 years. I maybe agree with him 60% of the time but reading all of his works has been valuable to me. If I disagree I have to (in my mind or in the margins) express why I disagree and formulate an argument. I read him because what I agree with I love and treasure. Only a person devoid of convictions should feel afraid of disagreeing with someone. I would like to add that reading critically goes hand in hand with reading widely. Read different genres of books. Read fiction, history, philosophy, etc. Making connections between disciplines is a very valuable skill. It makes you more aware of yourself and the world. It teaches you how to look at issues from different angles. Whenever possible, return to the sources.

jazybelle24 says:

And this is why you’re amazing and probably why you’re a doctoral student. I like that you mention recognizing your own biases. I think that’s something few people remember to do when thinking about literature. A stumbling block for me is often feeling like “who am I to question the great minds and writers?” I think that because I am not ‘on their level’ maybe I don’t agree or dislike that work because I don’t fully understand it. That was a struggle for me, especially in grad school.

Morgan Moody says:

I am so glad I’ve stumbled upon your channel tonight! You’re extremely intelligent and you have wonderful insight. Your videos are helping me so much as a English-Lit major. Keep up the great work!Thank you so much xx

BlackStarBlues says:

You know what would be great? An American version of “Apostrophes” (literary program in France) with you as the presenter.

Great video – one of your examples actually touched on something I’m grappling with in a series that I’m reading.

Ban Squared says:

Hi Ashley, just wanted to ask you how you garner the motivation to finish a book that doesn’t interest you at all.  I’ve put so many books aside because the themes/writing style don’ resonate with me.

I love your videos! 🙂

Leviosa Lily says:

The thing that annoys me quite alot about YA, for example, is that a lot of the time there isn’t much of an underlying theme and there sometimes really isn’t much to examine. There definitely are exeptions, but I feel as if it’s dumbing down teenagers a little and stopping some of them for accepting how important being critical is in reading.

Marta Sanders says:

Great video as ALWAYS! I was so happy when I was looking through my subscription list and your video showed up. Not only you are one of muy absolutely favourite youtubers but this kind of videos are what I most like to watch. I loved that you talked about how scary can be being critical and how it changes you. No wonder why you and Ronlit are my favourites youtubers! This goes to muy favourite list! BTW I just ordered ‘Bad Feminist’ and ‘ Yes Please’ audiobook after you recommended them.

ThisProvincialLife says:

I have watched my fair share of videos on reading critically and this is by far my favorite one. You’re so succinct with your thoughts and I just loved it great job!

BeardedNun says:

A much needed video. I don’t think many people understand that criticism is a good thing! 

SeabassVlogs says:

This is so informative! Thanks!

Nádia D. says:

seriously, watching you videos always make me really happy.
finally someone that is not afraid of saying something without sugar coating it, without in the end dismiss everything said by adding that you should read the way you want and that don’t exist a right and wrong way of reading.
of course that true, but is also true that if you don’t read critically you are not expanding your mind, you are not questioning what is presented to you, you are not growing. 
obvious it is true for other parts of life, not only about literature, including what other tell you, even your teachers, even your parents. 

Atiya Abbas says:

PREACH ASHLEY! You da best. I have come really late into thinking critically about a lot of the things I read. For example noticing how white men usually write about women. I am still not a critical thinker but this video is definitely the way I’ll get there. And Bad Feminist was really good in helping me think critically along with Americanah.

Fiachra O' Connor says:

VERY curious to know who the ‘terrible people’ are! Mind spilling? 

lemgruber says:

very good video! 

NexGen317 says:

To understand common ways to read critically i would recommend the book How To Read Literature Like A Professor by Thomas C. Foster.

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