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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

A bloggy resolution

Lately there has been some talk around the blogosphere about blog reviews being worse than paper reviews (will that controversy ever die?), especially those of the blogspot variety. In another paper review, women's writing, and by association women readers, are brushed off as pretty insignificant- eaters of tea and cucumber sandwiches. I'll save you the discussion on this, you can find them all over the web, but it does make me think about my own reading and blogging. (Not that the discussions are bad, just that I don't have anything new to add. Here's a nice one from Caribousmom, and one at another at minds alive on the shelves, and chris at book-a-rama talks a bit about it.)

I've become a bit unenthused at my own reviews. If I were reading myself on a Reader I'd never click through (for the reviews, for the stunningly cute boys, yes, yes I would!) I've been reading a lot of easy books lately, Evanovich, and Jim Butcher and the like. I've got a good excuse, I think, with two small children and a full time job it's hard to focus. But I'm not so happy about it. I've decided to step it up a little and stop skipping the hard stuff. I'm not swearing off on the easy stuff by any means, but the occasional non-fiction or literary fiction or classic wouldn't kill me. I'm also on the lookout for a nice set of guidelines for questions. Something generic to every book- I know there is a blogger who I read all the time, one who reads tons of books, who uses such a thing, but do you think I can remember who it is? Help me out here, someone who can remember needs to give me a link. And if it's you, I'm sorry, I think you're great. I just can't remember who you are!

However, this doesn't mean that I agree with the columnist. I think bloggers do a much better job of spreading a love of books than an paper review ever did. I think there is a niche for every type of book blogger, whereas you never see romances (for example) reviewed in mainstream print. I think that women's fiction is some of the best writing out there. Anyone can do war, I'd like a little emotion with my books, please. (Wait, was that a stereotype? Should I take it out?)

Anyway, my point, as I struggle to make it, is that on MY blog, the standards have slipped and I'm gonna fix it. EVERYONE ELSE'S bog though, still great. I'd rather read a hundred of them than a handful of print. I'd rather be friends with the writer, and I feel like I'm friends with many of you. I'd rather be able to respond, and get a response. I love being able to compile notes on the same book. I've added way more books to my TBR from the blogging world than I ever did from my NY Times book review subscription.

Oh, and today for lunch I had cucumber sandwiches. Cream cheese, cucumbers, and ham. It didn't seem to affect my intelligence AT ALL.



  1. Lisa - I believe that Dewey at Hidden Side of a Leaf has the guideline that you are looking for.

    I don't even think that professional book "print" reviewers and bloggers should even be lumped into the same category. I think each has different motives, different readership, different communities. And blogging is personal, that's why we love to read book blogs, because they are so very different than print reviews. That's the point. As for me, I sometimes spend hours working on a single review. Probably not the best use of my time, but there you go.

  2. Dewey does have a good set of questions, thanks!

    While I don't want to spend hours on my reviews, I do need to spend a LITTLE more time on them. I need to prioritize more!

  3. I read a few of those article and found them very interesting (makes me want to step up my review too). Thanks for sharing.

  4. Almost all of my book purchases are based on my own preferences, as well as, PERSONAL reviews that I've read on book blogs.

    Honestly, I never read 'professional' reviews. I'm not intersted in getting a brief summary of the plot or discovering how many awards it's been nominated for. I can get that off of the back cover.

    What I'm intersted to know about a book, before I take the plunge, is how the reviewer FELT about it. Whether or not the plot was engrossing and if they felt an emotional connection to the characters.

    I prefer reviews that sound as though I was sitting with a friend, chatting about books, while enjoying a cup of coffee :)

  5. I've always preferred reading reviews from blogs or online bookstores more so than the reviews found in newspapers and magazines. Reading the opinion of a blogger or a past reader makes me feel like I'm getting a more honest critique of books.
    As a beginner blogger/reviewer I also thought about using the question guidelines as a starting point.

  6. I agree...about wanting to feel a connection with the writer, which I do on blogs but not so much on paper. I feel blog reviews in general are much more informal, and I like that, too. :D

  7. Ha ha--I love this post! Yes yes yes I agree wholeheartedly. Blogging is a personal thing--we are a community and I love the bloggers I've met (in a very non-stalkerish type of way). I'm not sure exactly who you're talking about with the questions but I think that Bookfool has done it for a few of her books: I haven't read her latest blog but it looks like she has a dialogue with herself...what a nut! :)

    And if you want to sprinkle in those "tougher" books, maybe alternate--throw one in a month or so. Or could you juggle and read one tougher one and one fluffier book at the same time? I've done this in the past with a few toughies and will probably do it again this winter when I plan on reading some longer books (the longer ones are the bane of my existence!!).

  8. I would rather read blogs for book ideas any day. Even if the review isn't the most well written I can usually get a better feel on if I would like the book or not. So keep on reviewing!

  9. I love the back-and-forth conversations that bloggers can get going on some books.

    There seem to be a lot more personal connections than in print media, (I liked it because .... I didn't like it because).

    I wonder the same thing about people clicking through on my reviews in a Reader; I get enough thoughtful Comments that I'm satisfied I must be doing something write.

    Keep on writing, whatever form it takes!

  10. Thanks, everyone, for reassuring me that everyone isn't reading my blog for deep thoughts.


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