Book Reviews

The Epidemic of Niceness in Online Book Culture

Interesting article from Slate Book Review on the fine line between literary criticism and literary boosterism as experienced on social media.

A Little Friday Frivolity

A slide show via Ellen DeGeneres: Looky looky at this booky!.

A number of surprising titles including a book that I was very proud to work on while at Kane/Miller Book Publishers during the '90's; "The Gas We Pass, the Story of Farts" by Shinto Cho (my boss Sandy Miller did the research, I just proofread it).

What Makes a Critic Tick? Connected Authors and the Determinants of Book Reviews

What Makes a Critic Tick? Connected Authors and the Determinants of Book Reviews
Executive Summary:
The professional critic has long been heralded as the gold standard for evaluating products and services such as books, movies, and restaurants. Analyzing hundreds of book reviews from 40 different newspapers and magazines, Professor Michael Luca and coauthors Loretti Dobrescu and Alberto Motta investigate the determinants of professional reviews and then compare these to consumer reviews from Amazon.com. Key concepts include:

•The data suggest that media outlets do not simply seek to isolate high-quality books, but also to find books that are a good fit for their readers. This is a potential advantage for professional critics, one that cannot be easily replicated by consumer reviews.
•Expert ratings are correlated with Amazon ratings, suggesting that experts and consumers tend to agree in aggregate about the quality of a book. However, there are systematic differences between these sets of reviews.
•Relative to consumer reviews, professional critics are less favorable to first-time authors. This suggests that one potential advantage of consumer reviews is that they are quicker to identify new and unknown books.
•Relative to consumer reviews, professional critics are more favorable to authors who have garnered other attention in the press (as measured by number of media mentions outside of the review) and who have won book prizes.
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'50 Shades' another brick in the wall between fans and critics

'50 Shades' another brick in the wall between fans and critics

While the erudite have derided the best-selling books as poorly written and unimaginative, fans of the soft porn/romance novels don't care about sentence structure, believable dialogue or character development. Not everybody wants a daily dose of Dickens or the latest Robert Caro book on LBJ.

"This stuff we consider 'bad' is considered bad if we look at it in terms of the criteria set for old-fashioned art," says pop culture expert Robert Thompson of Syracuse University. "We also have to recognize that some of this stuff that is 'bad' is really good at being 'bad.' Therefore the word 'bad' kind of ceases to have any kind of meaning."

Confessions of (Another) Book Reviewer

Confessions of (Another) Book Reviewer

I think of the reviewer’s role now as being more about providing context for a book, tracing its lineage in the tradition and locating it in the literary topography of the present, and all that touchy-feely sort of thing. The critics I love these days do something slightly different from what they used to: they don’t just judge, they open up that weird, intense, private dyad that forms between book and reader and let other people inside. They tell the story, the meta-story, of what happened when they opened the book and began to read the story.

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Could the Internet Save Book Reviews?

Could the Internet Save Book Reviews?
The digital age has transformed the physical act of reading and will alter journalistic literary criticism as well. According to a Pew Research study published in 2010, over half of all Americans obtain news and information—including book reviews—on digital platforms: online editions of newspapers like the New York Times, email, Twitter, RSS feeds, etc. (The number is even higher among people with post-graduate degrees and those who are in their 20s and 30s.) The full effect of these changes will have on book reviews isn't clear, but they're already shifting in ways that would both please and alarm Orwell.

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The Lonely Book

Review of "The Lonely Book" by Kate Bernheimer, illus. by Chris Sheban; Schwartz & Wade (Random House).


This particular book has spent a lot of time at the library, but it still has a lot to look forward to. Fresh off the presses, a beautiful green book is sent to a busy library, quickly devoured by adoring young readers. The book is happy to be checked out often and loved by so many children. Time goes by, and newer books take its place. Gradually, it gathers dust and is taken out less and less often. Then, one day, when it thought it has been abandoned, a little girl named Alice discovers it where it has been left carelessly on the floor. It’s love at first sight for the little girl, and she takes the book everywhere. Once again, the book is happy and content.

But when Alice, in a moment of forgetfulness, neglects to renew the lonely book, it is again relegated to a dusty shelf. Stay tuned for more...

Author faces six figure legal bill after unfavourable Amazon reviews case is struck out

Author faces six figure legal bill after unfavourable Amazon reviews case is struck out
An author who tried to sue a father of three from the West Midlands over comments made in a series of unfavourable reviews on Amazon is facing a six figure legal bill after a judge struck out his case.

The judge ruled that although a small portion of Mr Jones’ words might be deemed libellous by a jury if it went to a full trial, there was little point pursuing that avenue because the potential damages would be slight compared to court costs and time.

Why Won’t They Listen?

Article in the NYT Sunday Book Review: Why Won’t They Listen? Book discussed in the article: The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion

Bird books US/UK

Birdbooker Report 214Compiled by an ardent bibliophile, this weekly report includes books about human evolution, wildflowers, polar bears and much more that have been newly published in North America and the UK

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/grrlscientist/2012/mar/25/1

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