Writing about Books

A question for those of you who blog often about books that you’ve read (I count myself in your camp): is your blogging coterminous with the books that you read? That is, do you blog about every book you read? If so, do you never find that after having read an interesting, well written book, you paradoxically have nothing to say about it? If you had found yourself in such a strange situation, what did you do? Did you write nothing, or did you rack your brain in the hopes of hitting on something?

I suppose that professional reviewers rely on their training to deal with such situations. They have their admirable stock — literary techniques, thematic placement in the literature, analysis of the book’s failure or success at whatever metric it’s to be judged by, etc. — on which to structure a review. Amateur reviewers may lack such background and the discipline imposed by a heckling editor. They — we — luckily needn’t bear the burden of having to write; we needn’t force the matter; we needn’t say anything. But then how can we think a book interesting, yet find that we have nothing to say for the spark of that interest?

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2 Responses to Writing about Books

  1. Lauren says:

    I find it really interesting that you’re asking this question, because I can honestly say that I’ve never read a book that I have absolutely nothing to say about. Obviously it’s easier to find things to say about books when I feel strongly about them – if I love it or hate it I can go on forever – but even the mediocre ones aren’t completely devoid of content. Just think about how much exists in the world of literature – formal criticism and literary structure aside, there are feelings and opinions that any person off the street could articulate. Bad writing is almost more fun to write about than good writing – even if there’s nothing to be said for the content, there must be something to say for the lack of content. Comparisons, literary devices, characters, plot, length, sentence structure – everything right down to the book cover is open to analysis and interpretation. I’ll admit that it sometimes takes me a few seconds to launch into a review, but I don’t think I’ve ever had a complete blank when it comes to writing about something I’ve read.

  2. Hi Lauren,

    Good to hear from you! I think you & I approach our readings and writings differently from each other. I read mostly nonfiction and don’t really aim to review books — if pressed to say what it is that book-related that I do write about, I would say that I use books as platforms to spring into aspects of publishing that I find fascinating, or more frequently, mystifying (since i have no insider knowledge of publishing). And that sometimes don’t happen, or at least don’t happen with enough ease for me to insist.

    Congrats on your blogging awards!

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