Writing book reviews ratchets up my anxiety.
My top 10 reasons why:
- Two of my favorite credos are Mother Teresa’s “judge less, love more” and my neighbor Tuto’s “DBAA (don’t be an a**hole).” Although I’m no saint like Mother Teresa and not as cool as my 70+ year old Danish artist friend Tuto, I try to live by these wise women’s words.
- When you write a book review you have to judge someone else’s writing and literary vision. Since I want to love more and not be an ass this can be hard.
- I know from personal experience that writers are sensitive creatures. To write an honest review you have to give feedback that could potentially hurt a writer’s feelings. I try hard to do so in a kind, constructive, gentle way.
- A freelance journalist like me trying to publish a book herself doesn’t want to alienate other writers, especially old friends or well-known writers who could endorse or “blurb” my book.
- Book reviews require a lot of time because you have to read the book, think about it and make thoughtful comments about how the author hit and/or missed the mark.
- Book reviews pay very little to no money unless you happen to write one for the New York Times or the Atlantic or some other highbrow publication. I fall in the little to no money category.
- Reviews are inherently subjective. A book may bore me to tears because I have no affinity for the genre or subject matter (not a magic wizard or vampire book fan) but multitudes LOVE these subjects (think Harry Potter and the Twilight saga). So why listen to me?
- I don’t want to burn bridges with writers, agents, publishers, friends.
- Life is short. I only want to finish reading and review a book I like most things about. Otherwise I’ve wasted precious time.
- I worry that I’m spending too much time reading everyone else’s book and not writing my own.
- So much easier and pays better to interview and write a feature profile about an author and her book.
So why am I blogging about books by friends and strangers?
Because friends who have written books ask me to read and write about them. I want to help. I believe in constructive feedback – it could inspire them to see their writing in new ways.
Strangers write books that align with my passions and interests, spark my curiosity and contain information I want to know. So I read them and feel okay about using my expertise and life experience to weigh in on them.
Then there are the in-betweeners – people I’ve crossed paths with who write books on subjects that tangentially interest me. I may choose to read and review if I’ve got the time.
So please stay tuned. I’d love to hear your feedback on my reviews, plugs for any interesting books you’ve read about my fave subjects – Old Hollywood, the American Jewish experience, antisemitism, raising daughters, California, etc.