If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that I review a few books here and there. It wasn’t always this way, but at least the mid-point of seminary, it’s been a pretty regular (if not the only) feature of my blogging activities.
For me, it all started because I got interested in the John Piper/N. T. Wright controversy (among others) and also had the opportunity to do a couple of book reviews for class assignments. The result was the first several book reviews I ever published:
- The Future of Justification
- Justification and the New Perspective on Paul (part 2)
- The Greatest Show on Earth
- Death by Love: Letters From the Cross
- The Shack: An Extended Critical Review
- Drops Like Stars
This was merely a sometimes feature at this point, but then I found out if you asked publishers for a book, they might send it to you in exchange for an honest review. The first one I contacted and got involved with was Crossway, soon followed by IVP Academic, Kregel, and New Growth Press. Later I would get connected with Baker Academic, Eerdmans, P&R Publishing, and Zondervan and I was off and running.
In another post, I explain a little more about that process in 3 easy steps. Elsewhere, I give much more detail about the actual requesting and reviewing process. As part of an on-going attempt to blog through the ins and outs of book reviewing, I wanted to offer a caution about the initiation process and offer you an opportunity.
First, I think everyone should be adept at doing a book review. Maybe not journal article level critical reviewing, but everyone should be able to read a book, explain concisely what it is about, and then think critically about the contents, offering an evaluation of some sorts. If you’re a blogger, you should do this from time to time whether or not publishers are sending you books.
Much of the draw for me getting into book reviewing was the “freeness” of the books, but I was also keen on sharing books with others. I like to think of myself sometimes as a book consultant. I was doing that on some level for my classmates in seminary since I had a reputation for reading over and above the required amount. I often got asked if I knew of a good book on __________. I usually did (and sometimes more than one), and enjoyed sharing that knowledge.
This of course is textbook maven activity, and if that’s you, you’ll probably enjoy the whole book reviewing process. If that’s not you, you might not want to jump into the deep-end of the book reviewing. Yes getting the free books is nice, but unless you really like sharing about books you’re reading, you might not enjoy the strings attached to those free books.
I found it to be burdensome at times myself, but that was from mistakes I was making that I’ll share with you next Friday. The upshot was that I learned my lesson and can now share it with you. Book reviewing is good skills to have, but doing it a ton isn’t glamorous, and it’s necessarily something you should aspire to unless you’re really committed. I think when it comes down to it, being a “book reviewer” isn’t something that you should want to be a singular activity (or something you put on your resume). For the most part, I’ve been using the process as a placeholder for doctoral work, and when I actually start that, the book reviewing will taper way off.
Anticipating that, I’m taking steps to diminish the amount of review related reading I do, and that also means less reviewing. This probably won’t be noticeable until June or so, and that’s where you come in (this is the opportunity I baited you with a few paragraphs ago). To fulfill my obligations to review certain books, but to also curtail the amount of reviewing come summer, I’ve decided to offer you the opportunity to do the reviewing for me. The idea is that I’ll showcase other reviewers during the month of June (alongside a couple of other scheduled review series posts). I haven’t quite decided on the exact books to send out, but I’m willing to part with several of the free books on my shelf in exchange for you putting together around a 1000 word review. I’ll post the review here, but also link to your site.
If you’re reviewing with a publisher that you haven’t worked with before, this could be your “in” to get started into more reviewing. If this interests you, contact me through the contact form below and we’ll hash it out over e-mail. The only requirements are that a) you actually read the book and submit a review to me by June 1st and b) you are already a blogger and have done a book review or two before.