Book reviews: clinging to life?

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Last week, I posted a short piece on my own site in which I argued that the book review is slowly dying and that this is not something to be regretted. Then, a few days later — just in case anybody might accuse me of behaving consistently — I found myself updating my book reviews page, adding reviews that I’d originally posted on Goodreads but which had disappeared into the ether when I deleted my Goodreads account. I don’t think my behaviour is as self-contradictory as it might seem. I certainly do think that reviews have become devalued and that the obsession with avoiding spoilers in reviews has had an unfortunately inhibiting effect on the online discussion of books.

On the other hand, writing about reviews reminded me that many of my former Goodreads posts now exist in a ghostly state: not wholly obliterated yet not available to be read by anyone (except me) who might have an interest. More to the point, the deletion of my Goodreads profile had broken links to my reviews from other posts, including two links in my post about Gillian Flynn’s Dark Places:

So, first of all, I fixed those two broken links, then thought there was no point in doing things by half measures, so I kept going. In the end, I added about 12 reviews to my site, including these:

Tana French, In the Woods

Erin Kelly, He Said/She Said

J P Delaney, Believe Me

Philip Kerr, Research

Andrew Taylor, The Anatomy of Ghosts

Catherine Ryan Howard, The Liar’s Girl

S J Watson, Before I Go to Sleep

As far as I can tell, there are only two more of the former Goodreads reviews that I think are worth saving. If I decide to post them on my own site, I’ll probably add them within the next few days. And that will probably be it for me, as far as book reviews are concerned. As I said in last week’s post, I’m tending not to write reviews these days, but instead concentrating on more detailed, spoiler-laden, discussion. That’s more satisfying to write and, I hope, to read.

Written by

Writer of (mainly short) fiction, criticism/discussion and other stuff; aphantasic; antimasculine male, no pronoun preference

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