Why I’m not a book reviewer

Book reviewsI’m going to be very careful here not to slam those who do review books.  I admire many of them.  They read constantly and have a wide enough repertoire to give them a grand perspective on books.

But the contents of a book review is about more than reading.  It’s about the reviewer’s personal history and how it relates to the story.  It’s about her mood at the time of the reading.  If the book review is an assignment she didn’t want, her review reflects it.  Likewise, if the author of the book-to-be-reviewed is a good friend.  And if the book reviewer is a writer herself and is reviewing the competition?  Oh boy.  There’s an invitation for partisanship.

I’m guilty of all of the above.  Whether I like a book or not has to do with my own personal history, my mood at the time of the reading, and yes, whether or not the author is a competitor or a friend.

This is reality.  I’m trying to be honest here.

Which is why I call what I do “recommendations” rather than “reviews.”  I’m not an expert in literature; I don’t put myself up to be the judge of what’s good and what isn’t.  I simply know what I like.  And I can pass on those titles to you.  As for disclosure, didn’t I tell you right off the bat, in recommending Low Pressure last week, that Sandra Brown is a friend?

In the last few months I’ve read some books that I don’t like, some that I truly hate.  And I’ve blogged about them.  Only you’ll never read those blogs, because I won’t ever post them.  I don’t want to trash other writers any more than I want them to trash me back.

So.  If you want negative reviews, you’ll have to look elsewhere.  I’m taking the high road, and feeling better for it.

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  1. Karen on December 28, 2012 at 9:17 am

    I tried to review books for awhile, and I found that I just couldn’t- for all the reasons you listed. I love sharing titles that I enjoyed, but I realize that each person is different, and an experience with a book can be completely different the next time that same book is picked up. I like your view here!

  2. Alana on December 29, 2012 at 7:39 am

    I just give a quick overview of the book & if it made me feel good, if I enjoyed it, made me laugh or cry etc just so people can get an idea about the book from my perspective & if they read my other reviews they will get a feel for my taste & if it helps them make a judgment call on a book great.

  3. Donna Lundborg on January 2, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    I just finished ESCAPE and have one question. Did I miss the announcement somewhere regarding the name and sex of the baby that Emily and James were blessed with? Though it probably isn’t “important” to know the facts, I think it’s interesting because I tend to NOT STOP the author’s story at his or her last sentence. Rather, I imagine the future of the main characters, putting myself in their places . . . . isn’t that characteristic of avid readers? I’m curious! What were YOU thinking as you ended the book, Barbara? donna@lundborg.org

    • Barbara Delinsky on January 3, 2013 at 6:18 am

      What I was thinking, Donna, is that I used to love the surprise we had when we did NOT know the sex of the baby before birth! So no, I haven’t announced the sex or name of Emily and James’s baby. I leave that to YOUR imagination! 🙂

  4. Pamela on January 3, 2013 at 10:03 am

    I appreciate this post. I agree wholeheartedly, and feel the same way about movie reviews. Enjoying a book or a movie is so subjective. I teach creative writing classes with this in mind. We don’t critique each other’s works and say, “You don’t use enough description,” or “I don’t like your use of metaphor.” Instead, we write in class and read our stories out loud, and then share what we DO like about a story or a vignette or a character. Positive reinforcement is the best way to learn and grow. That’s how a (book or movie) review should be. Tell what you DO like about a book. If there isn’t much, it will be a short review. :+)

  5. brenda on January 8, 2013 at 11:41 am

    Could not open SSA at home or at school…try again please.

    • Barbara Delinsky on January 9, 2013 at 8:55 am

      Brenda, this is case sensitive. Have you tried it with all lower case letters? BD

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