Friday, November 03, 2006

Weighing In on Books

Jen Robinson has posted some great thoughts about reading and reviewing books. I have reviewed or mentioned a variety of books here at Snapshot--nonfiction: parenting, health, writing, and cooking; and fiction: for toddlers, middle-grade children, older children, and adults (popular, Christian and classics). I would love to get your feedback on book reviews. I enjoying knowing what people are reading, their thoughts on what they read, so I like to share my thoughts. Since I've been prompted by Semicolon's Saturday Review of Books (where you can link a book review from that week on her site and read many others), I do try to post a book review every week.

Jen Robinson also addressed the issue of negative book reviews a while back (and includes several links to others who broached the subject). I feel like I have a duty to report honestly, but I am not ever going to ruthlessly tear a book apart. If I don't like it at all, I will either just not review it, or I will say why I didn't like it. For example, I may not like a book because it talked too much about gardening, which I have no interest in (but some people love). I also like to point out any objectionable (to me) content, because I think that many readers want to know about such things as well, so that they can make a decision on their own about whether or not to read it. I like to give enough information so that someone could decide if they wanted to read it or not, but not so much that the book doesn't seem fresh and new when you read it for yourself, because that's what I like to see in a book review.

What do you like to read in a review? What don't you like to read? What types of books are you most interesting in reading, and therefore most interested in hearing about here at Snapshot?

On a semi-related note, I have volunteered to be a judge for the Cybils. As one interested in children's reading, and as a booklover in general (and as one always eager to give my opinion), participating in this inaugural year was compelling to me. The Cybils are a new book award, sponsored by the bloggers of the kidlitosphere, for children's and young adult books. They were born out of frustration in the other book awards, namely the Newberry awards, which seemed too elistist, and the Quills, which didn't seem elitist enough (read the entire press release here).

Nominations are open until November 20. Anyone can make one nomination in each category. Guidelines are listed here. The categories are middle grade novels, young adult novels, children's picture books, graphic novels, middle grade and young adult nonfiction, nonfiction picture books, fantasy and science fiction, and poetry.

Click over
to the site if you or your child has read a book this year that you think should be nominated. There will also be a review a day of some of the nominees, so bookmark the site and check it frequently.


Anonymous said...
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Janice (5 Minutes for Mom) said...

Great info! I checked out all those links - thanks :)

As for reviews - i love to read them. My time is so limited that I pick the books I read very carefully. So an honest review is great!

Jane said...

Thanks Jennifer for this post, the links are great. Also I like to get "honest" reviews too and I think readers understand that everyone's tastes are different also. But if there was questionable content/language I appreciate the heads up from a reveiwer I trust and relate thanks!

Susanne said...

I like an honest review too. I keep in mind that the review is really the reviewer's matter of taste and opinion also. I like to know if there was questionable content, like language, vulgarity, etc. because that would influence whether I read that book. A general mention too of what the book is about is good too. I like a review that speaks in the general person's words not great big complicated words and sentences that come out of an English majors understanding. I don't like having to figure out what they really mean while I'm reading the review.

Great post, Jennifer.

Jen Robinson said...

Hi Jennifer,

Thanks for linking to my posts! And congratulations on being a Cybils judge, too. That's very cool.

The funny thing about me is that I have mixed feelings about actually reading other people's reviews, because I like to go into a book not knowing very much about it - this enhanced the reading experience for me. So I'm constantly doing this balancing act where I try to read enough of the review to get a sense of whether I would like the book, without reading too much. I'm not even talking about spoilers - most people are pretty good about that - but I want as little information as possible before I start to read.

Anyway, thanks for your comments on the book review topic (here an on my site). I'll likely be doing another post on the topic very soon.