Books, once considered the the pinnacle of human civilization, have slowly gone into retreat. Whether it’s technology, modern society or time, the reason behind the demise is widely debated, but what we know for sure is that books today, are still a great way to experience adventure thrills, learn about faraway places and contemplate the future. Whether it’s Huckleberry Finn, Fahrenheit 451 or The Universe in a Nutshell, books should find their way back into your daily routine, and that’s why we compiled a list of the best book review sites.
So what’s a book review? And what makes a book review good or bad? The first question has a simple answer. A book review is a form of literary criticism in which a book is analyzed based on content, style, and originality. Its length can vary from a single paragraph to a substantial essay. But what makes a book review good is totally up to the reader – personal taste. While some may prefer a short plot summary, some may prefer a long essay on the concepts presented in the book, along with the author’s personal opinions.
That’s why the order in which these sites are presented does not matter.
The New York Times
The New York Times, while some critics say it has fallen from the top ranks, still has capable writers which undoubtedly have the skills necessary for writing book reviews. Writing book reviews is actually very hard and requires the utmost attention to detail as well as an encompassing knowledge of other literary works. The reviewer must analyze even the faintest clues, implied meanings provided by the book author, decide on their importance and meaningfulness to the story. He has to address complex issues such as plagiarism and decide on the validity of the ideas and points expressed.
The New York Times presents us with book reviews situated somewhere in the middle, between a plot summary and a ten page essay, with most reviews situated around 1000 words. The quality varies from writer to writer but most of them provide an insightful view for the proto-reader. They have one of the largest number of reviews, which means you’re going to visit them sooner or later. Overall, The New York Times Book section receives a warm recommendation. Visit it here.
Next up is AllReaders.com, with a design stuck in 1999, the apogee of humanity according to the Matrix. Their library is comprehensive and the search engine highly customizable, but the reviews are generally short and superficial. “Gordon invites readers, authors and publishers to enter books and reviews in a process that takes about 10 minutes,” and that’s exactly the problem with the site. Instead of knowledgeable readers and writers, you will sometimes risk finding a common illiterate species: the internet troll. The advantage of reading through many viewpoints is undeniable so go on and visit it here.
BookPage gives us a consistent library of well written book reviews, including a section on children’s books, blogs and a newsletter. Nothing remarkable, but still worth a read. Visit it here.
Just slightly better organized than the other sites I visited, bookreporter.com hosts reviews about 500 words long, polls, blogs and various contests aimed at the diligent reader.
As always, you’re invited to join the conversation, so post in the comments suggestions on other sites you’d like to read before buying a book as well as impressions on the ones mentioned in this article. You could even recommend us a book!