A riff, or ostinato if you’re more pretentious, is a repeated musical phrase. Most rock musicians, myself included, think of a riff as something equivalent to a musical idea. From a musician’s standpoint then, and a guitarist at that, a riff is a catchy musical idea that draws people into your song. A well executed and/or generally sick guitar riff is what draws in Joe Guitar Player and inspires him to want to learn to play your song. It is what “hooks” the listener.
Book riffs then are short reviews of books I read designed to function as a visual hook. They will generally involve me “riffing” on an idea that stuck out to me in the book itself, as well as giving general insight into who I think should read the particular book. A book riff then will be different than the publisher’s description on the back and will be more descriptive than the blurbs. Blurbs establish credibility and publisher’s descriptions give a broad overview. Book reviews cover the whole layout of the book and then offer critical reflection. Book riffs are just short insights into the value of a particular book that I found and want to pass along to you.
There are several book riffs already mixed in with the other book reviews on the review page. Some of my favorites are:
- Redeeming Science
- Why Johnny Can’t Preach
- The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God
- The Writings of Chuck Klosterman
- The Reason For Sports
That should give you an idea, although some future riffs may be much shorter. They definitely won’t be any longer. Many times I’d like to share a key idea I gleaned from a book but don’t want to go through a full review of it. I’m trying to think through as well ways that I can categorize books for you so that you can tell more easily what books will interest you and which ones might not.
Let me know if you have any suggestions!