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Writing Book Reviews: Art or Information Service?

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Marc Joan

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I think both authors made good points: in particular, the reviewer should use clear and transparent prose, and keep out of the way. There will always be some reviewers who use the review as a platform for their own words/views/ambitions, but I think there are also plenty who write objective, helpful critiques.
 

Brian Clegg

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It's an interesting debate - I write a lot of reviews, both for my popular science review blog (www.popularscience.co.uk) and for magazines, and I always try to make the review about the content of the book. I once wrote to Nature to complain about their reviews, when they published a two page review of a book and didn't mention the book itself and/or how good it was, it was simply an article on the topic of the book, which I found really frustrating.
 
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EPHahn

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I've been noticing this more and more on amazon. A few times, the reviews almost scared me away, not to mention, gave too much information about the plot! They practically rewrote the book. I try to keep my reviews brief. What I liked, didn't like, who I would recommend read it and why. Easy peasy mac n cheesy.
 

Brian Clegg

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Gaahh. Now I want to know which book it was.... good job, Brian.
I can't remember - but back when I subscribed to Nature, many of their book reviews were like this. When I moaned, they replied saying something to the effect of 'we don't do cheap and nasty reviews with star ratings like yours' - which is all very well, but I think reviews should be about the book, not the topic it covers.
 
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EPHahn

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I can't remember - but back when I subscribed to Nature, many of their book reviews were like this. When I moaned, they replied saying something to the effect of 'we don't do cheap and nasty reviews with star ratings like yours' - which is all very well, but I think reviews should be about the book, not the topic it covers.
Yikes. "Cheap and nasty" those star reviews may be, however, they are what is often used by the masses of commercial readers!
 
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