A portion of this blog will be dedicated to book reviews. I’ve figured I should speak to what my goal is in these particular posts, and what you should (or shouldn’t) expect here. First, these will not be formal, critical book reviews. Except in the event that I’m reading/reviewing a book on a specific area of history in which I am well versed and have been immersed in the literature, I will not attempt to compare a book to other books/works in that area – or at least I won’t make any significant attempt. If I am not an expert in an area it seems a bit presumptuous to act like I am. If I can make connections to other similar books I may do so, but if you’re expecting a formal critique, you’re in in the wrong spot.
It might be more accurate to describe these sections as book reactions. Perhaps they would help answer the question: “Hey, read any good books lately?” I’m also not fond of book blogs where a chunk of the review is basically a paraphrased abstract cut and pasted from amazon.com. My thought is, if you want to read the abstract from Amazon, just go there. So expect the plot summaries to be short and sweet – if anything at all.
What I want to tell you is how the book made me feel. Did I enjoy it, and why? What didn’t work so well, in my opinion. Was it a huge bore that I struggled to finish just based on principle? Was it one of those can’t-put-down-even-though-I-have-to-get-up-for-work-in-three-hours thrillers? When I ask my group of trusted bookish friends for a recommendation on a read, these are the things I want to know. If I wanted a critique and a juxtaposition of the book in its particular book culture, I’d go read the review in the NYTimes. I want to know if a book is worth buying or borrowing. Is it worth my time? That’s the question I am trying to answer here for joe-average reader.
The types of books is another issue. I don’t subscribe to one particular genre. I am often partial to history and historical fiction, but I’m not limited to those areas and I don’t want to be cornered into becoming a genre-specific reviewer. I will read books that look interesting and appeal to my personal tastes and post my reactions. I’ve never fully understood people who only read books in one genre – you’re missing so much!
Books that I’ve Reviewed