Sunday, February 14, 2010

Another book on the I Want to Read This list

Here's the Wall Street Journal review that enticed my interest in THIS BOOK IS OVERDUE: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All by Marilyn Johnson.

A side benefit of reading reviews is you can learn how to talk about books. For example, I'm just starting to work with a very very beginning writer who has a non-fiction book in her. We're working on how to describe her story. One of her "assignments" from me is to read multiple reviews of a book and see what works, and what doesn't in making the book sound enticing.

There are two other reviews of THIS BOOK IS OVERDUE: one in the Boston Globe, the second in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Which of the three is most enticing to you, and why?

And if you've read the book, I'd like to hear what you think of it.


Cat Moleski said...

The Boston Globe review enticed me the most. The Wall Street Journal one was too pessimistic and the Tribune did not have enough exciting detail.

Joelle said...

I sometimes wonder if there are a bunch of us up here in BC reading your blog because I went to put this on hold at the library and I'm #9. You wouldn't really think there'd be a wait for this when the library owns 5 copies, but there is.

I know the point of the post was to read the review and see what made the book enticing, but I hate reviews (they spoil books so often!) so I'm just requesting based on, "If Janet's interested, I should have a look."

Nic said...

I prefer the Minneapolis Star Tribune - mainly because its short and sweet but also because it seems more closely targeted to my generation i.e. the younger generation, the generation that grew up with computers taking over the world.
The Wall Street Journal seems overly long and boring perhaps due to its technicalities but then again thats one of the reasons that i don't read it.
The Boston Globe was better than the Wall Street Journal.

steeleweed said...

I avoid book reviews deliberately, since I've found reviewers' tastes seldom match mine. Aside from that,it's writing that interests me and I have noticed that talking about books is an art in itself, one which is not often shared with good writing.
I've seen few good writers who were good reviewers - most reviewers write laboriously, the literary equivalent of paint-by-numbers. Reading Edmund Wilson is almost painful. The late Thomas Disch was an exception, being a fine writer and critic.
On the other hand, I enjoy and learn from writers who write about the craft - how they learned and developed their skills.

Margaret Yang said...

In order of preference: Minneapolis, Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe. Some of the paragraphs in the Boston Globe review were speed bumps, making me backtrack and re-read in order to get the meaning. The Minneapolis Star Tribune review flowed smoothly. Right away, I understood what this book was about and why I should read it.

MitMoi said...

I too dislike reading reviews. Usually the review involves analysis and comparison to other literary works. Works I haven't read. So - it's a review of gaps.

That said, I love information and detail. I liked the WSJ. Followed closely by the StarTribune. It delved into the story - gave me a connection - and I wanted more.

The Globe article was frothy and light - almost an "imitation" of the real thing. I don't like fake food - and I don't want "review-lite" either.

I too have put this book on my "to read" list - and will be passing it on to my two favorite librarian friends. Although I'm sure they're already in the loop!

Diana said...

Personally, I liked the Wall Street review, I think because it gave so many examples of what librarians are doing to connect patrons (cyber and real) with information. But then, I'm a library assistant in a bricks & mortar library, and probably read all three reviews with a different eye than the average reader.

Christi Goddard said...

The Boston Globe used a lot of action words and made the entire thing seem compelling. They wrote it with such excitement that librarians appear far more adventurous, interesting, and funny than our culture portrays them to be. The other ones were bland hashouts.

This is an excellent example of good query - vs - bad query. ;-)

Ruth Donnelly said...

There definitely seems to be some personal preference involved! I was most enticed by the Minneapolis Tribune review because of its sharper focus and strong hook. I disliked the Boston Globe one, which struck me as rambling. I've linked to this post on my blog at

Janet Smith said...

I was most intrigued by the Wall Street Journal's review. The lead-in typifying librarians as "unsung heroes" was something I could immediately picture and sympathize with. The review didn't try to take on too much information in the first paragraph. Now, if I only had time to read the book . . .

Steve Stubbs said...

Boston Globe wins hands down. As for why, I don't give answers beyond the form "not right for me at this time," heh, heh.

And I have not read the book but I am sure I will compare my horror novel to it when I get through rewriting it from its original draft as a postmodern comedy set in the Middle Ages.

Liesl Shurtliff said...

I preferred the WSJ review. Even though it was rather long, it gave me more insight into the soul of the book, peaked my interest with hints of tattooed librarians, and librarians doing "cheeky dances with rolling book carts." This made me feel that there were going to be things in the book that would surprise me. I love surprises. I don't want to read about what I see everyday. I want to read about what I don't see. What am I missing?

It also make me feel that there would be good stories in the book, and whether it's fiction or non-fiction, I live for story.

I might read this book, but I have to say, I don't think it will change my opinion of the disgruntled librarians at my local library. I actually think they hate books, or people who ask question about books. At any rate, they have made me an avid supporter of my local bookstore.