Tuesday, June 16, 2009

How I Review, or, A Conversation with My Self

From the cover of The New Yorker Magazine, Nov. 6, 2006

Malinda Lo recently wrote about inadvertently finding a review of ASH and realizing she probably couldn't write reviews anymore.  I started thinking to myself about the way I write reviews.

"Self," I thought, "what is it that we do when we review books?"

"Well, Aerin," she replied.  "We try to figure out who's going to buy them."

"True, true."  I pondered a bit.  "More like a puzzle than a critique process, isn't it?"

"It really is.  Matching the book into the perfect buyer-shape hole.  I mean, you tell me all the time that any author has to work really hard to get published.."

"...despite our little issues with SM, who we tend to think is a show-off," I muttered.

"She does have a right to be."

"Fine.  So, when we're reviewing, we're gauging our enjoyment of a book, and trying to determine, based on past experience, people we know, etc., who would be the most appreciative audience."

"Did you just say et cetera to me?"

I ignored my Self and continued.  "And, of course, if glaring inconsistencies or plot devices, poor grammar or language use interrupted our enjoyment of said title, we will probably mention these things."

"You know, people who contact you to review their books will probably want to know how you work. You should write a post."

"Hmm.  Point taken, Self.  You are a very wise woman."


  1. hahah this was great. I love it!!! And it's true, I do think in that regard for the most part when I review too.


  2. This gave me something to think about. Most of the time I would just say why I loved / hated a book without the audience in mind.

  3. That was awesome. I love your conversation with yourself :)

  4. Talking to yourself? You'll be blaming the strep next but I know ... you do this all the time don't you?

    I know I do.

  5. "Point taken, Self. You are a very wise woman"

    Now why am I not surprised? lol

    I like the double trouble here...
    And you seriously do read a lot of books. :D

  6. Oh, no, now I'm very scared and you have to tell ME what you're doing with the Duke degree. Yale has served me so well writing chick lit! And happy birthday. I'm the 7th of June. (And 21, again.)



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