Wednesday, October 3, 2012

On Being a Book Reviewer

I'm still receiving shipments:  sometimes two at a time, often more.  Each package filled with books to be read . . . and reviewed.  By me.

Not all of the books are in book form. Many are galley-proofs, or reviewer proofs:  large, 81/2 X 11" format glued and bound in cellophane or sometimes stapled together.  I'm seeing the book before it is a book, and it's an honor to be one of the few (maybe only a few dozen in some cases) to read the book prior to the general public.

I like the idea of being a book reviewer.  Makes me feel tough, like I have some clout.  I try to be precise in my reading and perusal of a new book:  determine what the author is trying to say and then ask how well he or she pulled it off.  Most of what I'm reading--at least in print form--is well-written.  But that's what an editor can do for a book.  (Try that with self-published books and you often get a mash up of split infinitives and bad grammar and thoughts that trail off into nothing . . . .)

Reviewers, generally, must also be quick.  Reviews often have deadlines.  In essence, the review must arrive before the book hits the shelves (or the internet) and people need to have a review that is both informative and accessible. 

Reviewers must read quickly, but thoroughly.  Light reading not withstanding, sometimes a book requires heavy lifting or the late-night work that will keep a reviewer awake.  Sometimes I have to start my day with four pre-coffee chapters, then coffee, and then another ten chapters and a blog before writing the review.

But I like it.  Being a reviewer keeps me in touch.  It also makes me more aware of my own writing and causes me to ask the question:

How am I doing so far?

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