More on book reviews.

Jan posted in comments, so I followed the link to one of her reviews.


The Birthday Party: A Memoir of Survival. By Stanley N. Alpert. Putnam’s, 306 pp., $24.95.

By Janice Harayda

January used to be the low season in publishing, a time when firms released titles that weren’t sexy enough to compete with gift or beach books. No more, and anybody who wants proof needs only to pick up The Birthday Party. To say that this terrific book tells the true story of a New York stick-up gone haywire is like saying that Psycho is about a motel with an eccentric owner.

Now THIS is a review. Why? Because there’s enough in the first paragraph to tell me whether I want to read this book or not, without revealing anything spoilery about the book. I didn’t read farther. I know this is a book that will go on my list. (For a writer, it’s probably horrifying to think, “She read one paragraph and no more?” But that’s the way I read reviews, anyway, unless I truly have no plans to see the movie/tv show or read the book.)

The title of the review is funny and makes me want to read more, and she presents the subject matter of the novel (and her positive impression of it) in a way that let’s me know immediately, this is probably my kind of book.

Oh, and of course, if you want to read the rest of her review, follow the link above!

So. What do YOU look for in book reviews?

And thanks, Jan, for stopping by!

3 Comments

Filed under Books, Writing

3 responses to “More on book reviews.

  1. Thank you again! I especially appreciate your getting my sense of humor. (I am also a comic novelist and some of that may carry over into reviews …)

    Maybe your visitors would like to know — from the perspective of a fomer book editor — a little more about why January has become a strong month in publishing? The weeks right after Christmas used to be the time when publishers would, essentially, dump on the market a lot of the titles they had thought wouldn’t fly with holiday shoppers.

    But the number of books getting published has exploded in the past 10 or 15 years, partly because the Internet as brought out the writer in a lot of people. I read that 192,000 titles were published in 2005 when, in the early 1990s, the figure was about 50,000. The explosion has forced publishers to space the titles out over the year, so now we get a lot of good ones all year round. The catch is that because more books are appearing, you often have to do more work (sifting through many more titles) to find the good ones.

    So I think your question is very timely: How do you evaluate the review of these? I’ll look forward to the answers!

  2. That’s fascinating — and wonderful news for writers. It also means that more people are buying books!

    I wonder how much Amazon has impacted that. I know a buy many more books now than when buying books required a trip to a book store that then provided a much more limited selection.

    I still shop at book stores, though. There’s no substitute for browsing real stacks of books from time to time.

  3. My favorite book review ever:

    “Best book ever written by man or woman. Deserves to out sell the Bible.”

    That was for Irvine Welsch’s Trainspotting . . . . which I read on the spot in the bookstore, almost cover to cover.

Hit me with it.

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