You may remember a time before the Internet. Or if not, perhaps you remember a time when the Internet didn’t have so much . . . stuff. If you are a literature nut like me, there might’ve been a time when spending an entire afternoon (or entire day) at a bookstore was a treat. In fact, it still is. Browsing a giant bookstore, grabbing random books, reading the back cover, or reading a whole chapter is a great way to spend a few hours. But lately, I’ve been finding myself reaching for my phone, reading online reviews – not just price checking. Lately, I’ve found I need context before I invest my time into reading a book. It’s a bit of a shame, really. Sometimes I miss those days when I would just take a chance on a book – not know who said what about the book, not know if it’s gotten good reviews, not even know the author. Just take a chance. But before I get too nostalgic, I remember all those books that disappointed me.
Those days are long gone. Now, before I read a book, I do my homework. My reading time is so limited, I need to make sure I spend that time wisely. Not only that, but after reading a book, I want to engage with all those who’ve read it. Obviously, my first go-to for information, reviews, book suggestions, etc. is Amazon. And then, of course, is Amazon’s Omnivoracious for more discussion about literature.
The writers at the NYR Daily New York Review of Books are the most insightful reviewers offering highly in-depth discussions about newly published books.
Goodreads offers an extensive network of highly engaged readers who discuss, review, and organize books. What’s great about goodreads is that it doesn’t just sell books, so if you want to know something about a much older book, this is a good place to go.
For those who like vintage, there is of course, vintage novels, which is solely dedicated to this rather specific genre. But if you have always pooh-poohed this genre, this blog might make you rethink your position.
Bookalicious Babe is a great site because it is more than just book reviews. The writer posts about the experience of reading: what she is reading and how it affects her. In a recent post about “spooky stories” that she posted in dedication to Halloween, she writes of the books in her post “still resonate in my memory and send shivers down my spine.”
Another great personal reader blog is 101 books. The blogger is working his way through Time Magazine’s 100 Greatest Novels. It includes the likes of On the Road, by Jack Kerouac, and Salmon Rushdie’s Midnight Children. He describes it as “part allegory, part historical fiction, part something called “magical realism.” I guess I could see that. Magical Realism, just in case you’re curious, is the “is a fiction genre in which magical elements blend to create a realistic atmosphere that accesses a deeper understanding of reality,” according to goodreads.
I find that with so many great literature blogs, I spend more time reading about literature than I spend reading literature. I haven’t decided if that’s a good thing or not.