The Fine Art of Reviewing
In theory, I post a new Book & Blog on my website every week. Sometimes that actually happens, but often the time stretches to two weeks . . . sometimes even longer. I usually mention three to five books. I’ve encountered many people who find that my Book & Blog is a weird idea. They express surprise that one writer would commend the writing of others. Because I get astonished that they’re surprised, we end up as one big circle of incredulity.
I mention other writers’ books for several reasons. I wanted a feature I could renew as I had time, a feature that wouldn’t require my giving away my precious fiction! I also believe that NO ONE reads just one book every year, so I wasn’t losing sales by recommending other novels. And actually, I love to read and sharing that wealth was a positive good.
I hadn’t anticipated the consequences that have become apparent after years of writing my Book & Blog column (www.charlaineharris.com). First of all, thanks to the resolution that I’d only mention books I genuinely enjoyed, I haven’t made any enemies – that I know about, at least. Since I’m not a paid reviewer, I feel I have the right to only talk about books I like. Secondly, readers tell me every week that they’ve purchased or checked out one or another of my recommended reading choices, and they’ve enjoyed them, too. That was my goal, so it feels wonderful to achieve it. Third, every now and then editors I know will send me ARCs of books they think I may enjoy, which is totally fabulous.
This has been a win-win situation for me.
The touchy part? Well, sometimes I get books that don’t appeal to me at all, and I have to regretfully decline to mention them. That’s going to happen, and doesn’t mean I’ll dislike the next book by that particular writer. And sometimes I simply don’t have the time to undertake extra reading if I have novels stacked up from here to Sunday . . . and I do have a TBR pile that occupies an entire bookcase.
On occasion, I feel like the Ancient Mariner. I beard innocent passers-by, gripping them by the shoulders while I say, “You MUST read this book! You’ll LOVE IT!” And that’s what reviewing is all about, to me . . . discovering new books that spark your enthusiasm and excitement about the act of reading.