For a while, I’ve been thinking about doing a series on book reviewing. It’s something I’ve been known to do in semi-prolific proportions. It’s also something that my interest and capacity for is waning.
Book reviewing was a way of keeping my free time under guardians and managers until the date of resuming school. Since the fullness of time is at hand, it’s time to set aside what is essentially hobby. Throughout the fall, I’ll still be reviewing books on pretty much a weekly basis. But, come January and Ph.D studies, I don’t imagine that will be the case.
Before getting there though, I wanted to pass on the insights I’ve gained in being an active book reviewer for the past few years. Think of this as a way of kind of “reviewing book reviewing.” If you’ve seen the show on Comedy Central called Review, this is kind of like that (minus most of the mayhem though).
If you’re looking to get started or just do what you like to do better, this series is for you. I can’t say I’ll cover everything, and much of what I might say could be found elsewhere. For that reason, I’m going to focus more on my experience and what I learned, rather than best practices for reviewing books (which are widely available).
If you think of it triperspectivally, which is my preferred mode, you could roughly outline the series this way:
Under the normative perspective, I would talk about the norms for reading and reviewing well. This would includes topics like:
- How to Read a Book (well)
- How to Interact With a Book
- How to Organize Your Review
There may be more, but you can see how to some extent, there won’t be much I say here that you couldn’t find in another reviewers archive or in a full length book.
Here, the focus is more on the context of reviewing itself. A key consideration is how to get review books. Rather than a single post (which I think I’ve done in the past). I’m going to go publisher by publisher, focusing mainly on the ones I’ve worked with:
- Baker Books
- Baker Academic
- Brazos Press
- Fortress Press
- IVP Academic
- New Growth Press
- P&R Publishing
- Thomas Nelson
- Wipf & Stock (includes Cascade, Pickwick)
There are certainly more publishers out there you can connect with, but these are the primary ones that I have worked with. I’ll explain what the publisher is about, how I got connected, and you can see what I’ve reviewed from them.
Also considered under this perspective is cross-posting your reviews to sites like Amazon and Goodreads. I’ll explain what I do, and talk about reviewing for other outlets beyond your own blog or website.
In this final perspective, the focus is on what I do as a reviewer, what I’ve learned, mistakes I’ve made, etc. This is the part of the series that will be most unique. You can probably find the information in the other perspectives elsewhere around the web. You may find other people who have had similar experiences to me in reviewing books, but hopefully what I’ve learned in the past few years doing this regularly will be helpful to you. If nothing else, at this point, it is the main reason for doing this series in the first place.
Given all this, and the ability of a triperspectival analysis to start from any perspective, where do you think I should start? I’ll go off comments here and Twitter and decide what to start with next week. Until then…