500 Reviews

Back in 2010, I wrote my first review on LibraryThing. It was for a book that I greatly enjoyed at the time called The Book Thief. I suppose I wrote that review for no better reason than to enthuse about a book that was, being a YA novel, outside of my typical reading zone. It was two years until I wrote another review and this time for a somewhat different reason. By then I’d stumbled upon one of the many groups on LibraryThing. The one that caught and held my attention was the 75 Books Challenge {for that year}. Many of the participants in that group, I’d noticed, posted a short review of each book on their personal thread in the group. And most also added those to the main page for that book in LibraryThing (the latter is by no means necessary; nor, for that matter, is the former). I liked what I saw and wanted to take up the habit as well. The habit stuck.

In the years since then, I’ve joined each year’s 75 Books Challenge. Most (but not all) years I reached that total. And for nearly all of those books I wrote a brief review. My typical review is between two to four paragraphs. I usually give a hint at the content in the first paragraph. And then I comment on the writing itself in what follows. I usually conclude with a recommendation for or against reading that book. Since I’m self-selecting the books I read, for the most part, I tend to read books that I am comfortable encouraging others to take up as well. There have been some notable exceptions but, given the total number of books read, the exceptions are rare. I try to be generous with my reviews but I’m rarely ecstatic. It takes a truly exceptional book to get me to rave about it. And then, of course, my reading tastes may be peculiar or at least highly particular.

When I set out to write these reviews, I hadn’t intended anything more than that. But like most positive habits, there are secondary or tertiary effects that accrue over time. For example, as I age I find that I don’t remember things as easily as I did as a young man. Maybe there are just more things to remember. But one thing I do remember easily, thanks to the review I will have written, is what I thought and felt about a book I’ve read. Indeed, for any of the 500 books I’ve reviewed, a quick glance at my review almost instantly brings the whole book back to life for me. I certainly hadn’t set out to write reviews as mnemonic devices. But I very much value their functioning in that way now.

I’ve also had a lot of fun.

Not every review I write is witty, or dryly ironic, or sly. But every once in a while, I do craft a review that tickles me. And I’ve been delighted to find that some of them have been enjoyed by others on LibraryThing as well. It’s a small pleasure, which is the best kind.

And so I’ll continue with my reviews and more especially with my reading. I’d be happy to discuss any of the books I’ve read. Just give me a moment to refresh my memory by reading the review I wrote when I read it and then fire away.

You can find my 500 (and counting) reviews here.

Posted in books, review.

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