Don’t get me wrong, kindles (or your e-reader of choice) are a wonderful invention. I love paying $3 for a book instead of $30 and getting it in 5 minutes rather than 5 weeks. Kindle books are also easy on my bookshelves, which groan under the wonders of culture.
But there is one area in which ebooks fall short and interfere with my reading experience: they almost never have easy-to-find blurbs.
I never used to understand people who wrote book reviews. You’ve already read the book, so writing a review isn’t going to help you decide whether to read it, and it’s an awful lot of effort.
But I’ve spent some time thinking about the matter, and I’ve concluded that there are five good reasons and two bad reasons to write a book review.
Good reasons to write a book review
1) You have an opinion
You have an opinion. In fact, you have many opinions. They’re all brilliant, and sharing them with the world will force everyone to acknowledge how brilliant you are. And, perhaps more importantly, how right you are.
I remember the days before Amazon, when finding a good book to read was easy. You’d go into the local bookshop, head straight to the fantasy shelf (or the shelf of your favourite genre), and run your fingers over all those beautiful spines.
You’d spot one with appealing colours, which was thick enough to be a good, solid read, and which had sequels sitting next to it in the shelf, so if you enjoyed it you’d instantly know what to read next.
It would have a title like “The Dragon’s Apprentice” or “The Warlord’s Dragon” so you knew it was about exciting things – like dragons. (No, I don’t know if either of those is a real book.)
Last night I started reading Ulysses, by James Joyce. It’s been staring at me from my bookshelf for several years now, ever since I came across Modern Library’s list of the 100 best novels and decided to read my way down the list. (I think I got through about a book and a half before giving up. Fortunately I didn’t buy all 100 books in advance.)
I’ve been warned about Ulysses. It’s fat and white, which makes it good at staring accusingly at me from the bookshelf, being judgmental about the fact the spine is still uncreased.