15 February 2014

Book Reviews

I just noticed that I've reviewed about two hundred and fifty books so far on this blog.  The whole process started off when I would write long and critical essays about books that made me angry, and picking apart the things that were terrible about the writing.  Somewhere along the way, I realized that truly bad writing can teach us a lot about good writing.  These days, I have a set convention and rules that I follow, and I find that some of my best thinking comes when I'm sorting through my ideas about a text in order to write about it.  It's been a fun journey.

Things sort of started in 2009, when I wrote at great length about why I thought that Terry Goodkind's fantasy series The Sword of Truth was terrible, as well as my ethical problems with Stephanie Meyer's Twilight.  I had fun thinking and writing about these books.
Think about if you knew a man of sixty years who wanted to date a seventeen-year-old. You would wonder what was wrong with him. And if he broke into her house to watch her sleep, you would (hopefully) think it was insane and creepy. The excuse of “We're in love!” wouldn't cut it. You would rightfully think that guy was a disgusting monster. It wouldn't matter if he was pretty.
This was fun to do, so I took a look at the first book in the Biblical apocalypse fan-fiction series Left Behind, by Time LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins.  And this turned into long posts about each of the books in the series over the next months, written with great delight: 2. Tribulation Force, 3. Nicolae, 4. Soul Harvest,5. Apollyon, 6. Assassins, 7. The Indwelling, 8. The Mark9. Desecration, 10. The Remnant, 11. Armageddon12. The Glorious Appearing, and 13. Kingdom Come

In addition to Left Behind, I also went after Sarah Palin's monstrously terrible America by Heart in two posts of 2010, here and here.  I enjoyed these endeavors so much that I finally launched my "weekly" book review at the very end of that year, starting with Michael Chabon's The Yiddish Policeman's Union ("In its best moments, Union mixes the feel of a hardboiled detective novel (think Chandler) and an obvious glee in extrapolating an ancient Yiddish culture into the present day.")

Since that time, I have reviewed hundreds of books.  Some have only received a few paragraphs of consideration and a recommendation, but other reviews have turned into sprawling and thoughtful essays (or biting cascades of criticism, like with Todd Burpo's Heaven Is for Real).

Right now, they're indexed alphabetically by author on this page, but at some point I hope to figure out some better way to organize things.  Until then, I'm still having fun cranking out my thoughts, and maybe even learning a little bit as I do so.  It's also possible that some people have enjoyed reading the reviews.

Some of my favorite reviews:

I hope to keep it up... and maybe in a few more years I'll be celebrating another two hundred and fifty reviews.

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