This post is about an article sent to me by Young Bill, out of Library Journal, a publication for librarians, resplendent with reviews and library news. Every Reader a Reviewer: The Online Book Conversation by Barbara Hoffert.
Book reviewers used to be the learned literary voice speaking to us from the Book Review pages of magazines and newspapers. They were what librarians like to call “subject specialists” in their particular reviewing field. Many were very good, and every librarian still reads reviews from magazines like; Library Journal, Choice, and Publishers Weekly in order to pick titles for their collections. However, reading some literary reviews made you think the reviewer had swallowed the thesaurus whole. Absolutely stunning reviews about the literary worth of a book that a librarian would know would never check out because it was insanely boring.
So just like the revolution in music, the industry now recognizing the power of wildly popular musicians on YouTube. Book reviewing on sites like Good Reads, or personal blogs is the power of the people getting to pick. To me it started with “DorothyL“, the very popular listserv of mystery readers coming together to talk mysteries; share in a like minded community and pass aroung the good titles among themselves. It gave voice to reader opinions.
I think that’s what most of us book review bloggers do, we give opinions, we share our likes and dislikes, we read and want everyone to read. I like to share events and talk about books. I don’t think I’m in the same category as the reviewer for the New York Times Book Review. I think my job is to make reading accessible and enjoyable. I’m just as comfortable reading Amanda McCabe’s Scandalous Brides, or Patricia Briggs’ Bone Crossed as I am reading Michael Lewis’ The Big Short or Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. I like to read, it’s that simple.
For my own personal reading, I prefer the book bloggers, usually I’m picking people who have similar taste in books. I want to see what they have to say, what they pick up next. If I need to know what book is the best authority on a given topic, then I go to the experts in the field. To me all the book buzz on the internet is just like the Metropolitan Library System book sale and the line snaking around the building to get in, “Who knew all these people were reading? I guess reading isn’t dead after all.”