Thursday, July 12, 2007

One-Minute Book Reviews

Need some ideas on what to read (or not read) this summer? Take a look at One-Minute Book Reviews, a blog written by Janice Harayda, journalist, author, and an adjunct professor of writing at various universities. She is a former book columnist for Glamour, book editor and critic for The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, and vice-president for awards of the National Book Critics Circle.

She reviews both serious and fun books, which are not freebies from publishers. Her reviews include the best line and worst line from each book. She even writes reviews of "books I didn't finish," and tells you why, and recommends other books if she thinks one is bad. She also gives out "Delete Key Awards" for "the worst writing in books," which she describes as "such things as clich├ęs, bad grammar, or writing at an elementary-school level according to the readability statistics on Microsoft Word."

I discovered this blog when I was looking for some discussion questions for one of my book clubs for Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, an autobiography published earlier this year. Many publishers are now producing "reading group guides" as part of their marketing efforts for a book, but Janice writes "Totally Unauthorized Reading Group Guides" for "many books that groups might love [such as] new hardcover nonfiction or for classic works of fiction." Her guides will sometimes "quote unfavorable reviews, [and] encourage you to compare a book to others...[to] promote the lively debate about the merits of books that most book clubs enjoy."

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