Contented Reader

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Book review guidelines

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I love books, and I enjoy writing about them.  Here are some of the guidelines I’m using as I write about the books I’m reading:

1.  I only write about books that I like, and think you should read.  I’m not a professional book reviewer, so I don’t have to finish books I don’t like- I can just put them down and read something else.  And while I enjoy reading a really savage ripping-apart of a terrible book as much as the next person, I would feel mean writing one.  However, I reserve the right to make fun of Twilight.

2.  I’m assuming an audience of people who are enthusiastic readers of speculative fiction [science fiction, fantasy, horror, weird fiction, slipstream, cyberpunk, new weird, fairy tale retellings… oh so many genres of people imagining what could be and not chaining themselves too rigidly to what is].  I’m assuming that, like me, these people are curious about a variety of subjects, so while I’ll focus my writing on SF, I won’t feel obligated to limit myself to SF.  In addition to book reviews, I’ll write about other things I think might be interesting to enthusiastic readers of speculative fiction.

3.  I don’t have to only write about new books.  Again, I’m not a professional book reviewer, and publishers aren’t sending me free copies of wonderful books to review.  I get my books at the public library and my local bookstore (that’s Joseph-Beth Booksellers, stop by if you’re in Cincinnati) and Amazon, and I’m not going to skip writing about a good book just because I didn’t get to it until a month or six months or five years after it was published.  A good book is good forever, not just in the first two weeks of its publication.

4.  I will pay attention to, and seek out, books by small presses and new writers, because I like the fun of discovering a good book that no one else has heard of yet.

5.  I embrace digressions.  I love the stories books tell; I also love the experience of reading books, and the ways I come to books, and the effects that books have on my thinking and my actions and my life.  I like writing about all those things.   I’ll feel free to write book reviews that are indirect, and have as much to do with the way I experienced the book as they do with what’s in the book.

6.  If a publisher does want to send me a book, I’ll cheerfully accept them.  But I won’t promise to read them, or to write about them, or to like them.  If I read a book and like it, I’ll probably write about it.  If I don’t like a book, I won’t review it to tell about how much I disliked it, or why I didn’t bother reading it.  But I’ll note on the blog the title and author of the book, and if feel like it, a brief summary from the back of the book.  If I decide not to keep a book, I’ll put it back into circulation by giving it to a friend or donating it to the Cincinnati Public Library or the homeless shelter, or selling it for a pittance at Half Price Books- I won’t throw books away.

Written by Contented Reader

July 18, 2011 at 5:00 pm

Posted in Guidelines