Friday, July 3, 2009

The Nice and Nasty of Book Reviews

Those who have been following this blog for any length of time may have noticed I've been doing fewer book reviews. And there's a reason for that.

I used to think I knew how. Read a book. Tell what you think of it--good, bad, or indifferent.

But it seems there is more to it than that.

Lately I've come across the idea that writing a negative review, especially of Christian fiction, is a no-no for an aspiring writer. The community is small, they say, and you'd hate to damage your career before it gets off the ground.

And then there's the idea that we're all in this together; writers need to lift each other up. And I've heard book reviewers say words to the effect of, "I had a hard time finding something good to say about that book." And then you read their glowing review.

Authors and publishers are even paying others to write reviews of their books.

And then there's the flip side of that--aspiring writers who begin to get enamored with their own abilities and trash everybody's book, anywhere they can--their blogs, Amazon, the bathroom stalls at Walmart, etc, in an attempt to prove their superiority.

It is harder and harder to find an honest book review--one that examines the craft of writing and points out both bad and good. If that is the case, what value are reviews anyway?

What do you think? Have book reviews become so much a tool of promotion that they've lost validity? What should a good book review look like?


  1. Doing book reviews is tough. There’s the matter you wrote about the other day, Balance and time, then there are the issues you raise here. It’s not something I’d want to do. Still, as an author, I want one…good, of course (Grin). Maybe you could change up a little. Rather than call lit a review, just blog about books you’ve read and like, skipping the mention of those you don’t. It’s kind of a version of the old thing my mom used to say, “If you have nothing good to share, be quiet.”

    Best regards, Galen
    Imagineering Fiction Blog

  2. BTW, Barb, I love your Word A Day Widget, how can I get one?

    Imagineering Fiction Blog

  3. Thanks, Galen. I found it in the blogger gadgets. I can't really link to it though.

  4. Okay, I'm a WordPress guy, but, signed in for Blogger, so, Maybe I can get it that way. I can put it in a text box and stick the text box in the side bar. It should work. ANd, lots of good luck on the weight thing. It's very tough, I know. Galen