From browsing my Google Reader in the last couple of days, I see that this week is Book Blogger Appreciation Week. This is a week to, as the site puts it, “recognize the hard work and contribution of book bloggers to the promotion and preservation of a literate culture actively engaged in discussing books, authors, and a lifestyle of reading.” This comes on the heels of the cover article by Library Journal, Every Reader a Reviewer, which discusses the explosion of online reviews and its impact on the book market. It’s a great article and I suggest taking a couple of minutes to read it.
Now, I have a confession to make: as much as I subscribe to book review blogs, I really don’t read them very faithfully. It’s not that these blogs are bad, but I’m just not a big book reader. (The majority of my reading is online sources.) So, I really don’t know what makes a book blog tick. For those who are willing, I’ve have a series of questions that I’d like to ask so that I could get a better understanding of this blog genre. Please answer as many or as few as you’d like; you can answer in the comments or on your own blog. But I’d love to hear your answers.
- To you, what defines authority? How does one establish it? And what do you use as a measurement for examining other book blogs?
- How do you get your review materials? What do you consider to be the best source of review materials and why? Are there sources of materials that you won’t accept and why?
- When it comes to a review, what’s the main point you try to get to people who read your blog? Do you only publish ‘good’ reviews? (I mean this in different senses: “I read a lot and this one stands out” or “I only publish those things that I would recommend”) Do you publish ‘bad’ reviews? How do you feel about those blogs that publish one or both?
- In reviewing and making a recommendation, I have noticed that some blogs are written by people who are Amazon associates. If you see what they have reviewed, click on a link through their blog, and purchase something on Amazon, they get a small cut of the sale. In your opinion, is this a good thing or a bad thing? (On one hand, I can see an argument in favor of that arrangement because the small cut is a ‘thank you’ for taking time to review material and write a recommendation the material. It’s a small compensation for a service rendered. On the other hand, I can see an argument that, by placing a financial stake in the matter, it can make a review suspect since there is monetary motive.)
- Finally, what got you into book blogging? What is the joy you get out of it? And what do you predict is the future of book blogging?
In the effort of fairness, I figure I’ll offer my own book review. So, bear with me.
That’s me holding my copy of Anthony Bourdain’s 2001 memoir, Kitchen Confidential. It’s a delightfully vulgar, obnoxiously intelligent, and extraordinarily witty recount of the life and times of a rising chef and the behind-the-scenes look of the nitty gritty of what goes on in a restaurant kitchen. Bourdain cuts nothing out (pardon the phrase) in revealing what sort of time and dedication to art is required to be a premiere chef in the New York scene. It’s sex, drugs, and rock & roll with a culinary edge. To me, I could feel the heat and smell the mixture of spices and sweat that goes into making a high end meal. His storytelling style hooks you in like a night out with the guys swapping bar stories. It’s fascinating, it’s fun, and it has given me one of the best cooking tips I could ever hope for:
“Good food is very often, even most often, simple food. Some of the best cuisine in the world – whole roasted fish, Tuscan-style, for instance – is a matter of three or four ingredients. Just make sure they are good ingredients, fresh ingredients, and then garnish them. How hard is that?”
Perhaps they go behind cooking. It’s a life lesson right there.
The reason I chose this book is that I’m pretty biased in favor of it (I love his show on the Travel Channel, No Reservations) and that I’m planning on mailing this sucker to one of my favorite MLS students, Jessica. Jessica maintains her own blog at Miss Short Skirt which is one of my “must read” blogs on Google Reader. Her stories about the life and times of a MLS student reminds me of what my wife and I went through as we made our way through our own graduate programs. There are entries about the life and times of a poor graduate student that made me say out loud, “Holy shit, I’ve lived that!” It was great to meet her in person at ALA and I try to send up care packages when I can to make the semesters go less crazy. She’s going to make an awesome librarian and (hopefully) an even better children’s author.
Ok, that was two reviews. Now I’d like to hear some answers!