Every ravenous reader needs a supply line. They need a place, a person, a group, a site, whatever, to constantly add titles to their never-ending list of books to read. I obtain books through perusal of bookstore shelves, friends, family, following authors whose previous works I enjoyed. I am also quite lucky, for I have many people who are always adding to my list and several of them send me books in droves. However, there is one method that I don’t use. I don’t use book reviews. In fact, I don’t really like book reviews. I tend to avoid them as much as possible.
Because…book critics and reviewers tend to look at books very differently than I do. When you have different approaches you probably are going to come out thinking different things. Also, I find the power of suggestion a bit strong. It’s kind of like going to a wine tasting and having someone tell you that it has a hint of blackberry. Odds are that when you taste the wine that’s what you’ll be thinking, and you will probably also think it has hints of blackberry. But here’s the noodle cooker…would you have thought that if they hadn’t said anything?
Books are the same. You tell me a character was under-developed or came off as a whining man child. Odds are that’s going to stick in my head and possibly cause me to notice and care about something I wouldn’t have otherwise. I will grant that some forewarning with books can be nice. For instance, Crime and Punishment is a tough read. The Russian names can be very confusing, but stick with it. It’s worth it. This still gives me the opportunity at the end to decide if it was worth it or not, but it gets me mentally prepared for the journey and that can be very important.
Book reviews in a traditional format have their place and their purpose. However, they are not for me. What I want from somebody when they tell me about a book is a minimalistic approach. I want to know the title, author, genre. I want a two-sentence summary of what it’s about. If there’s anything that was particularly striking (again two sentences or less) and if I should give a flip and read it or not.
So while I don’t particularly care for book reviews, this is a blog that is centered on the written word and books, it only seems right to have a few book reviews. However, these book reviews will be what I mentioned earlier. I will supply a brief summary, if something stood out, and if in my opinion you should spend your precious time reading it. The idea is for them to be quick and simple. The books I review will be those that happen to be on my reading list. They could be brand new, they could be obscure, they could be considered a classic. Most book reviews naturally focus on new works, but I know there are billions of books that have been out there for quite some time that I haven’t met yet that have magical stories to offer.
So fellow ink-lovers, what are your thoughts on book reviews?