A year of reading, and a reflection on reviewing

Jester reading a book (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With only a week let in the year, its interesting to see what the last year has been like in reading and book reviews. According to the goodreads stats, which are pretty good, I’ve read close to 30 books this last year [so far!]. I don’t track graphic novels (although apparently, that’s something I could be tracking…) and work related reading in goodreads, so there’s a small amount of variance. Very small.

Of course, that’s only the books I bothered to finish reading. Not counted are the dozen or three books that I keep starting and stopping, or the forty or so books that I’ve picked up from publishers, started to stab, then set aside because they just didn’t work for me. It’s difficult determining what books are going to make it as a reviewable book or not ahead of time. It’s not quite genre – that’s only the first of the criteria. It’s  not the author – duds and stars come in equal measure whether the name is new or not. I often feel guilty when I get a package from Pyr, Tor, or Jo Fletcher, because I don’t know in advance if I’ve found gold or pyrite within.

I don’t have illusions that my reviews are of unique value, or that my word could make or break a book. Far from it. I’m just one of a large, maddening crowd. But within the confines of my reviews, I still want them to be the best I can produce. Since I only write them for books I enjoy, and these days I only try to finish the books that can hold my interest, the final count is somewhat smaller than the initial pile of books we start with.

So what is it I look for? I look for the whiz-bang. The golly-gee. I look for an adventure that reaches out and grabs me within the first few pages. If I have to wade through a hundred pages of build up and background, chances are good I’ve already moved on to the next book. I’m not looking for real world fantasy, or even near term science fiction usually – I know what the here and now is like. I’m looking for distant worlds and magic swords. Not all cliché, even I don’t like too much of a good thing, but I’ve had enough of the real world, that’s why I tried to escape into a book!

So this coming year, authors, I beg of you – give me your spaceships on fire off the shoulders of Orion, your ancient alien artifacts, your galaxy spanning intelligences and legions of planet destroying warrior robots. Hand me the magic sword, the lost prince, the kingdom in peril. Make me cower before the rise of the greedy wizard, the lecherous scribe, the talisman of kings. Do it well, craft a tale, enchant my heart, and I shall in turn give you my wallet and my review.

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