Aha, I thought, as the name of the blog came up in front of me, I’ve landed on a book blog.
But I hadn’t. Read Quips (http://readquips.wordpress.com/) is a blog about a baby’s development (he’s just taking his first steps, bless him! – post of Sept 1st).
Under the silly rules of my own challenge, , I can’t yet click on the “about” button to learn – if that is possible - why the blog has this name. But it got me thinking, about book blogs, and book reviews.
I follow book blogs occasionally. Usually I come to a blog though a link on someone else’s site, browse a bit, decide I like it, and become a follower. After a few months, or even weeks, I tire of it, and unsubscribe. Yet I never tire of reading book reviews in one of my favourite papers, The Tablet. I’ve been getting it for years, and love it. Why the difference?
Here are a few reasons why I love the Tablet’s book review section.
1. Variety: The books reviewed cover a much wider spectrum than one might expect from a British Roman Catholic weekly – theology, spirituality, the arts, history, biography, fiction, and various other, often somewhat eclectic, titles. I never know what I’ll find there next. I certainly learn of books there that I would otherwise not know about.
2. The reviewers are in some way “expert” on their subject. They are not just anyone who happened to pick up the book. They have an informed opinion to offer, and they offer it. They do not presume that the readers are also expert in this particular topic, but they do presume a certain intelligence on the readers’ part and do not patronise.
3. The quality of writing is very good. The reviews are (usually) a pleasure to read at the level of language, style, force of argument, and wit.
4. Variety in the length of the reviews in each week’s issue means that I can whizz through the shorter ones over my morning coffee, and save the full-page reviews for more leisurely perusal in my evening armchair.
5. When criticism is negative, it is given in a gentle, courteous way.
I have yet to find all these qualities present consistently in any online book blog.
Although I do a lot of “electronic” reading now, I don’t foresee cancelling my subscription to The Tablet for some time to come.