Up until now, I’ve mainly only done two kinds of reviews. Originally it was only one, but it slowly evolved into two, and so it’s only natural to move on to a third category. Here’s the rundown on what I’ll be doing from now on.
My initial foray into reviews was primarily critical reviews. These are the type of reviews that make into academic journals and other “real” publications. It requires a pretty close reading of the book and some level of critique of the contents, structure, or other aspects of the work. Ideally, all reviews should be critical reviews, but a) this is just a blog and more importantly b) I do reviews for free and also work a few jobs, so I don’t have time to do that kind of thing.
A third point could be added, and that’s what more or less led to the second kind of review: c) if I’m not completely obligated to, it’s hard to sustain enough interest to do a critical review of every book that comes in my mailbox. This creates the second level, or what I will now call the summary review. When I read a whole book but don’t feel like critically interacting with it, I’ll offer you a summary of its contents and some insights into its value. Usually the noticeable difference is less length as well as less depth. I may have the occasional deep insight, but it’s not necessarily evenly spread across the contents.
Because of time constraints, my standard review at this point is the summary review. If I request a book, I intend, initially at least, to offer a summary review. If it really piques my interest, or conversely, really annoys me, then I’ll launch into a critical-extended review. This happens from time to time, but by far the bulk of the review I do on here are summary reviews.
Partially Read Previews
However, to keep things triperspectival, and to adjust for my lack of time due to more work (a good thing to be sure), I’ve decided to add a third type of review. Negatively, you might call this the incomplete review, but in reality it’s still fulfilling some of what I think publishers expect by sending me a book (because I’m devoting a blog post to telling you about the book). In essence, it’s a general review of what I’ve read so far, but coming after the decision to not read the rest of the book, for whatever reason. I’ve seen Challies and Kevin DeYoung do similar things. I want to add this category to still offer some thoughts on books that I’ve received, but that I just don’t have the energy or the interest to fully review. I like to keep my turn-around time relatively short, and I’d like to actually get back to a point where I’m reading/reviewing shortly after receiving books so they don’t pile up on me (not that that’s a bad thing).
Now that you know this, keep an eye out for some of this partially read previews. I’ll sprinkle them in here and there, but still try to keep offering you a traditional (though not always critical) review each week.
If you’ve got suggestions for further refinement and improvements, let me know in the comments!