Book reviews can be helpful for readers. Honest book reviews, that is, not the puff pieces authors often ask friends to post online. An honest review that expresses the reviewer’s opinion of the book—good or bad—can help prospective readers weigh that opinion in their decision to read—or not read—a particular book. A review can also inspire readers to read books they had not known about or considered.
Not long ago, I got an email from the New York Journal of Books where readers find reviews on hundreds of books in every category imaginable. They invited me to join their panel of reviewers. It says on their website, “This panel includes bestselling and award-winning authors, journalists, experienced publishing executives, academics, as well as professionals across a number of disciplines and industries.” Given that, I can’t help but wonder how or where they heard about me. Still, I signed on.
Truth is, I am no stranger to book reviews. I wrote a library’s worth of brief reviews for Western Writers of America’s Roundup magazine (and not always to the authors’ satisfaction). True West magazine has asked me to review a few books. I write a lengthier book review each month for the Utah Westerners newsletter. And my reviews have appeared here and there on other occasions.
If you are not familiar with the New York Journal of Books, check it out. It may help you answer the question all readers ask: To read, or not to read?