Amongst all the debate about Kathleen Hale’s piece in the Guardian and the Goodreads reviewer allegedly* hit over the head with a bottle by an enraged author, I want to put my emphasis on the positive aspects of reading and reviewing.
*it is under police investigation at present
10 reasons to review – with examples
- Finding works and writers you never expected – Gail Carriger’s Etiquette & Espionage, China Mieville’s Railsea, Tom Pollock’s Skyscraper Throne Trilogy, Catherynne Valente’s The Girl Who …series
- Seeing authors grow and change over time – Frances Hardinge, Chris Priestley, Celia Rees, Jonathan Stroud
- Developing relationships within the community – readers, writers, publicists, editors. Chutzpah pays off. My experience so far has been overwhelmingly good. I love it when I tweet or comment and make someone’s day – or I get hold of a book I really wanted.
- Improving your understanding of the book market. I’ve much more idea of age-ranges, the style of different imprints and the likely readership than I had before.
- Matching the right book with the right reader. I cannot emphasise this enough. A reviewer’s purpose is to unite the people who like that-sort-of-thing with their preferred reading material. It’s not for me to judge – the thing’s been written. I know what love and care goes into the vast majority of writing for young people that I read – what earthly good could come of me slagging it off?
- Investigating good and sometimes great writing. How does it work? What can I steal? [ Please don’t take that too literally] Even with works that really aren’t my thing, I have learned a lot by thinking about why.
- Inspiring me to write. We’re all ‘just adding pebbles to the cairn’ as Maeve Binchy put it so beautifully. Not rivals – fellow creators.
- Receiving books for free – how wonderful is that? If I can bear to, I pass appropriate ones to my local library – doubly pleasing.
- Occasionally getting books well before they come out. I feel so honoured when that happens. Hint hint publishers!