I’ve been reviewing books for a few years now. I wrote occasional reviews right from the outset of this blog, and then not long afterwards began reviewing from the (much missed) The Fix. And my regular articles for The Guardian often hide a few book reviews.
So I’ve been enjoying a brief exchange of views about the nature of reviewing between @gavreads @paulgrahamraven @nialharrison and @cherylmorgan and probably a few others by now, started by Gavreads proclamation “The point of reviews: should you spend your money on this book – yes or no? The rest is just filler.”
Needless to say I disagree. I believe the job of a reviewer is to open up the meaning of a book for readers. I want a review to cut to the heart of a book, reveal what it’s really about and show how it works. And I want a review to put the book in its context and tell me the authors influences and the dialogues the books is part of. Saying whether a book is good or bad or ‘worth buying’ is probably the least interesting thing a review can do in my opinion.
But I might be wrong, it has been known to happen. What do you want from a review? Do they help shape your thinking about the books you read? Or do you just want a indication of where to spend your next £8.99?