I don’t read much in the way of book reviews. It’s not that I’m opposed to them, it’s more that time is finite and I don’t get around to it. Yet I value good reviews — see the aforementioned “time is finite.” If I’m going to read something, I want to go in with a reasonable expectation that I will find some value in the text. I want to enjoy it, or have my understanding of the world broadened, or have my feelings challenged in a good way.
I do not want to spend my time reading books that are not going to give me anything I’m looking for.
To that end, I truly appreciate the reviews of my friend Heidi. You can find her reviews here. Heidi does the thing a reviewer needs to do — she gives you the information you need to decide whether or not this is a book you want to read. That may include information about the quality of the writing, the ideas contained therein, the development of the characters, the use or misuse of familiar tropes, the presence of difficult scenes or subjects, or the absence of romantic plots. Heidi understands that sometimes a reader wants a challenge, and sometimes a person might want A Book Just Like The Books I Already Love Except One I Haven’t Read Before. On reading her reviews, I always know what sort I am getting.
I particularly enjoy the closing remarks of the reviews — the Read If You Enjoy sections. For example:
“Read if: You read and loved the first and plan to read the third. You will forgive it for only having two, relatively short, wolfboy sex scenes.
Skip if: you are a patient person. Wait until the third book comes out and read all three at once”
“Read if: you are a voracious pre-teen reader systematically working your way through the library, you are also studying for the LSAT and need something as a palate cleanser at night.
Skip if: You might get your hopes unreasonably raised by a book named after an interesting historical character, you have limited reading time and like to allot it judiciously.”
“Read if: you like thinking about the future-that-may-be, you wonder what the nature of humanity is if we don’t have bodies anymore.
Skip if: you are going to feel awkward liking unembodied crustaceans better than humankind’s continual fucking up.”
If you think those are amusing and informative, you will enjoy these reviews.
I don’t always read the books Heidi reviews — that is the entire point. I know, ahead of time, whether I want to spend my time with the work in question. When I do pick up books she has reviewed, I almost always enjoy them.