So you won’t feel cheated or deceived later let’s begin with this: other than being a writer myself, I possess no genuine qualifications to write book reviews. I do know what I like and what I don’t like, what keeps me up until midnight reading and what gets me yawning on page 3. And since I don’t have a degree in English Literature and I’m not an editor at any magazine, serious or otherwise, that’s what my reviews are based on. Because, despite all the traditions of literary criticism and the tendency to ascribe large metaphors and deep symbolism to the work of so many writers, I secretly suspect most of them are like me. They just like to tell stories and being an Author is marginally more respectable than Professional Liar. My only other qualification is that that I love to read—I devour words like a voracious termite with a tapeworm devours wood—and I read a lot. How much is a lot? Well, like most people I’ve been reading since I was five years old, and for most of my life averaging a book per week. Lately it might take me a month to get through a novel, but I’m usually reading 2 or 3 at a time. So if you average all the years since I was five and divide by…wait no, multiply the years by number of books but subtract the years my kids were toddlers…hmm, somewhere I’m pretty sure you carry the 8…you know what, let’s just agree that I read more than the average person, and should never, ever, write a math blog, okay?
The only thing I like as much as reading is sharing the kind of books that I love, the kind that make you sad when you’ve finished and there’s no more to read, the kind you read more than once, the kind you hand to someone you care about when you’re done and say Here, you have to read this. It’s amazing! Luckily, I live smack in the middle of the internet age and I can share my opinions on books that I love, and some I’m not so crazy about, with a much larger audience than just my immediate friends and family—who I’m sure just breathed a collective sigh of relief thinking (foolishly!) that maybe now I’ll stop telling them what they should read. My taste in books is eclectic and quirky, I tend to shy away from books on various best seller lists, if I read or review a “best seller” there’s a pretty good chance I read it 6 months before everyone else did (Corelli’s Mandolin, The Night Circus), or years after they were forgotten by the trend chasers (Vanity Fair, Anthem, A Confederacy of Dunces). Popular doesn’t always mean good and good doesn’t always make one popular, so you might find works addressed here that you haven’t elsewhere.
There are, of course, a few books I definitely won’t review. Ever. And with good reason.
The Bible Just in case…because I kind of don’t want to go to hell.
The Lord of the Rings Love it—as I do, or hate it, as those who complain its prose is too lofty and its characters one dimensional, do. It doesn’t matter. There’s nothing left to say about the book that hasn’t already been said a hundred times and by people much smarter and better educated than I am.
Anything by R. Scott Bakker I don’t know what the fuck that guy’s talking about half the time and I’m not going to pretend that I do.