It Was Fear That Made Me Do It: Comments from Allan Becker Reviewer for
Allan Becker

Reviewer Allan Becker: Allan has been designing and planting flower gardens, since he was a teenager in the 1960's. Now retired from the soft goods industry, where he held several positions in design, product development, and marketing, he has turned his passion for gardening into a second career, as a garden designer for private clients in Montreal, Canada.

In spring and summer, he provides his assistants, most college students, who transform his designs into flower gardens. In winter, he reviews books on garden-related topics for and writes a Gardening Blog.

Allan earned a B.A. from McGill University, followed by two years of studies in design at Sir George Williams University (now Concordia). He lives in the Montreal suburb of Cote St. Luc, Quebec with his wife and travels regularly to Toronto and Boston to visit his children and grandchildren.

By Allan Becker
Published on December 1, 2010
Allan Becker, one of's reviewers comments about one of his reviews he had posted on as well as

Last spring, I reviewed a book that was well written and effectively dealt with its subject matter. Nevertheless, the topic upset me. No, it terrified me:- it offered suggestions how the maturing gardener should modify the landscape and adapt one’s mindset to the prospects of old age. I am at a point in life where arthritis and reduced energy levels are beginning to compromise my abilities to garden without some assistance. Every chore now takes longer to accomplish than it did the year before. This new reality is making me very unhappy and frustrated. That one day I might not be able to garden at all, is a terrible thought. It was that fear that influenced my original book review of the publication, when I posted it to Amazon, in May 2010. Instead of giving the book the high ranking that the tone of my review suggested, I gave it only 3 stars.

The book is titled:
Gardening for a Lifetime; How to Garden Wiser as You Grow Older, by Sydney Eddison..

Since posting that review, three prospective book purchasers, who came across my review at the Amazon site, contacted me to express their puzzlement. The high praise that I gave the book was out of sync with my Amazon star-ranking of it and they wanted to know why.

Is it not possible to acknowledge that a book is well written and still only moderately recommend it, because of the off-putting nature of the subject matter?  In retrospect, I think not. If a book is well written it should be praised for its excellence, regardless of the reviewer’s bias against its message or subject matter.

Should the ranking of any book take into consideration how it might be received by any unintended reader? No, it was a mistake to think so. The book was written for a very specific audience. It has no attraction for the unintended reader who might not care, or even be aware, that it exists.

Perhaps I was being much too philosophical when I ranked the book. Perhaps I should have focused only on the target audience for whom it was originally intended. Clearly, three potential readers believed that my ranking decision was wrong. Since I understood that a philosophical explanation of my action would never be as effective as the strength of their reasonable queries, I revisited my review at Amazon and raised the rank of the book from 3 to the 4 stars that it deserved. This entire experience has taught me to never insinuate personal and very private concerns into a book review. Such matters are best dealt with in a blog.