Archive for the ‘Criticism and Reviews’ Category

How do readers find books? Or, more importantly, how will they find your book? According to this poll on the MobileRead forum, readers find books in the following ways (in order):

  •  Recommendations from friends or other readers
  • Recommendations from online forums, blogs, or message boards
  • Bookstore browsing
  • Amazon reviews/recommendations
  • Interesting covers or blurbs
  • Free download or bargain price
  • Library browsing
  • Mainstream media reviews
  • Kobo
  • MobileRead
  • Bestseller lists
  • Author sites
  • Award lists

So, if you want to sell your book, you have to somehow tap into the huge informal system of friends talking to friends, either in person or online. Everything else is secondary.



For a nice case of the chuckles-and-snorts, see Eric Jett and Alex Shephard’s truly funny Book Review to English dictionary. What does a reviewer mean when she writes that a book was “gripping” or “timely”? According to Jett and Shephard, in review-speak, those terms mean “I read it on the toilet” and “mentions Twitter or terrorism.” See the link for more–I only wish the dictionary was longer.

“I want the new, or the old made new, and if I can’t have the new I want sense, and I am aware, as a reader and as a critic and as a writer, of my own limited time.”

The esteemed poetry critic Stephen Burt discusses the art of the review and the responsibilities of the reviewer.

If you haven’t read Burt’s fine book, Close Calls with Nonsense: Reading New Poetry, you have missed watching a major literary intelligence in operation. Highly recommended.

Each day leading up to the March 10 announcement of the 2010 National Book Critic’s Circle award winners, the Critical Mass blog highlights one of the thirty-one finalists. To plug into their coverage, click here. Of particular interest: Stephen Burt‘s article on Clare Cavanagh’s “Lyric Poetry and Modern Politics.”

Dean Radar asks: Who are the great poets? Write him and let him know who you think is a contenduh. (And maybe also read his terrific book of poems, Works and Days.)

Change or die: Canadian author Derek Beaulieu says the novel is either dying or on its way to reinvention. (Meanwhile, in 2008, the last year for which data is available, publishers in the United States published more than 47,000 fiction titles. Fiction is still the top-selling category in book publishing. See Bowker‘s statistics here. Bat Terrier assumes the vast bulk of these novels are “traditional” narratives and that the genre remains stubbornly un-reinvented.)

And… So you wanna be a critic? John Sutherland‘s top 10 books about books, from Aristotle’s Poetics to Henry Louis Gate’s The Signifying Monkey.

I saw the book — didn’t read it at all — didn’t think it worth reading — fingered it a little. Mother thought as I did.

–George Whitman, brother of Walt, on Leaves of Grass

Five books every book critic should have.

Verse is math: The mathematical secrets of poetry

Three Jeremiads: Robert Darnton on what’s happening with research libraries.

Interesting post at The Nervous Breakdown about how the publishing industry really works these days. Takeaway for writers: “Becoming an author in order to get rich is like going to the desert in order to become wet.” (Sigh.) Recommended.

What is a book review? And why should we read them? Joseph Mackin at the New York Journal of Books has the scoop: “Reviews are essential tools for supplying the critical data that readers need to situate a book in the universal library.”

And new recordings of Scott Fitzgerald reading Keats and Shakespeare at PennSound.