Inspired by hellboundwitch
1) Read the copyright page and any other informational pages about the people who wrote, edited and published this book.
2) Look over the bibliography, there is a bibliography right?
3) Read the book carefully. Often the author has hidden cues to what they are talking about. And sometimes you will see things that look like a different person wrote it—that’s probably the editor, (or the author has an evil twin). For example if the author says she is atheist in the body text, but then a cute illustrated side bar explains about the lord and lady god and goddess of the wicca, well the editor might just have had a hand in that. If the author says a witch that cannot harm cannot heal and then describes a vicious binding with a poppet, and there is a cut away table with the wiccan rede harm none, will it might be the evil twin… If you notice these kinds of inconsistencies, its up to you whether to keep trying to figure out who is who, or just toss the book. I have seen this in a number of books, now I look for it. (I saw these sorts of inconsistencies a lot in Fiona Horne’s books, and Ann Moura’s books also require a lot of reading between the lines).
4) Does the author ever really say anything, or do they always hedge their bets. If every sentence starts with maybe, ends with it could have been, and has perhaps in the middle. Well what are you reading it for, the darned thing doesn’t say a thing and will be impossible to talk about later. You will have one reader saying the book said one thing and another reader thinking it said the opposite. (I literally had two University professors of Celtic mythology who held opposite opinions of what Cowan was asserting in Fire in the Head and this is why).
5) Does the author make sound arguments based on facts as premises? Or do they throw out a few maybes and then base further arguments on the maybes that are now facts. A book that is a house of cards will just fall down under any scrutiny, probably leaving the author acting like the queen of hearts wanting to cut off your head.
6) Have you read this all somewhere else before? Does this seem suspiciously familiar? Did the author actually originate this material or are they copying someone else? Another book that just tells you the same darned thing every other 101 book has said over and over again except for their own slightly changed spells is not challenging you or taking you anywhere. Neither is the author taking much risk intellectually (legally maybe if it was plagerized). (Cunningham has been plagerized and copied to death. I think that most of the 101 books I have read were modeled off of his, to the point that by the time I got around to reading it, I only found one unique bit of info in the entire book.)
7) Look around to see if the author has a web presence. Read their blog, their website, the types of comments they make in forums. Are they a raging racist asshole? Are they generally a regular person? Do they rant on and on about how people are trying to discredit them—but don’t really back up their own claims? So on and so forth. As you can tell from my blog, I am a generally polite person, I have had run ins with some authors that left me extremely cold. I will not send them any business regardless of the quality of their books. I have noticed some people will read any book someone says is bad just to construct their own opinion, for that reason I won’t even mention the names of the authors I don’t want another penny to ever go to. If the author seems cool, hey they have a web presence, that means you can ask them questions and talk to them. But hey do them a favor and read the book first and as interesting thoughtful questions. Don’t just say “how do I get started?” when the book already has lots of instructions for that.
8) Try some of the exercises. Get into the magic. That’s the point.
How to read a 101 Pagan/Wicca/Witchcraft book.
August 8, 2014 by Sara Star
Inspired by hellboundwitch