Thinking About Book Reviews

book reviews

Do you read our book reviews? I wonder why you read them?

Actually, no. What I really wonder is why I write them.

And I don’t mean that as some kind of existential quandary. I’m thinking more about their purpose.

I guess I also, therefore, have to wonder who reads them. Is it typical readers of “The People’s Friend”, or is it writers?

You see, it’s all relevant to my book choices — or at least to the books about which I go on to write a review.

What prompted the question is that given my job, I’m perhaps a surprisingly slow reader. When I’m reading a book, at least. I like to savour and reread almost every line, appreciating the words the author has chosen, trying to decide if I might have written a line differently. (As if!)

Not enough time

Like anyone, I have a limited amount of reading time. So, when I’m browsing a selection of the books that the various publishers routinely send me or allow access to, should I choose books that I want to read for myself, or books that I think “Friend” readers would be interested in and enjoy? The two categories are quite different.

Or maybe I should be reviewing books that fiction writers would appreciate?

You see my dilemma. I know it’s an enviable one to have: so many books, so little time.

It’s most recently prompted by two books, one just read, one that I’m a quarter of the way into. Neither are the type of short story or serial I would select for publication in “The People’s Friend”, because of aspects of the storylines. So reviews would be of little interest to the typical “Friend” reader.

Yet they’re good stories. I enjoyed the first, and am enjoying the second. So should I review them?

It brings me back to my opening query, about the purpose of our book reviews.

I’ll go ponder for a bit and you never know, I might have a book review for you next week!

To read some of the team’s book reviews, click here.

Shirley Blair

Fiction Ed Shirley’s been with the “Friend” since 2007 and calls it her dream job because she gets to read fiction all day every day. Hobbies? Well, that would be reading! She also enjoys writing fiction when she has time, long walks, travel, and watching Scandi thrillers on TV.