I don’t really think of my book posts as book reviews (in my mind, they’re more like book reactions), because I assume that most people who read my blog will have already heard of most of the books that I read. Generally speaking, I don’t read particularly obscure books. Everything I read is either, in some sense, canonical or is at least really popular. Because, honestly, how else am I going to find out about books? I never just go into bookstores and browse the shelves anymore. And most of the time I hear about a book on the internet, it falls into that weird liminal space where it’s too popular for me to feel like my opinion would really make a difference (in terms of helping it become more popular), but not so popular that I feel like I can learn something about the zeitgeist by reading it.
However, I do think that I lose something by only reading the stuff that the gatekeepers (of whatever sort) have said it’s okay to read, and I’ve been pondering various methods of getting around that. One thing I’ve hit upon recently is NetGalley. which is a website that publishers use to distribute advance copies of books to potential reviewers. I’ve found that the readership of this blog is sufficient enough that many publicists are willing to give me advance copies of the books that I request, and I’ve been going through and trying to flag interesting mainstream and teen fiction titles.
There is something weirdly empowering about reading an unreleased book which has zero Amazon reviews. Like, I could be one of the first people to comment publicly on this book. I could appreciably add or detract from its success.
However, it’s also a bit depressing to request an interesting-looking book and see that it’s nothing special.
So far, my policy is to abandon a book after 20-40 pages (and, since Netgalley encourages you to give feedback, to tell its publisher that I thought it was boring).
However, I have found one book that looks marginally interesting. It’s this one, by Ward Anderson. Only a tenth of the way in so far, but right now it’s good solid fun.