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Monday, February 21, 2011


As most of you know, I've been blogging and reviewing books for a little more than a year now. Someone asked me recently what my criteria is for choosing a new book to read. Many things are factored into my choices; sometimes it's because I've read and enjoyed books by the author in the past, sometimes it's because the cover art is intriguing, many times it's because a book has been referred to me by a friend and sometimes it's because I'm just plain desperate and have nothing new to read so I pick up the one paperback at the supermarket that I haven't seen before.

I always read the first one or two pages of a book before I purchase it to see if the author will "hook" me in quickly.  This is the method that works best for me when reading advance copies of books by new authors and I've read and reviewed some pretty wonderful books this past year.

I've also chosen books based on reviews by other sources such as book reviews in People Magazine (which always seem to be pretty accurate), on-line reviews and, yes, I have to admit, I've often purchased and enjoyed a book recommended by Oprah.

The one publication I can rarely depend on to find something new to read is The New York Times Book Review Magazine in the Sunday NY Times. Now I have to explain why. Oh, I can find new books based on the advertisements but the actual reviews most often leave me puzzled and confused. I consider myself to be fairly literate but I think it's a case of TMI....too much information. Unlike People Magazine reviews which are short and snappy, the ones in the Sunday NY Times are pages long, overly intellectualized and most often by the end of the review, I can't even decipher whether or not the reviewer actually even liked the book they reviewed. What is up with that?!?

However, I haven't given up completely on the Times and I was just leafing through the one from January 30, 2011 before putting it into the recycle bin. When I read Neil Genzlinger's review of four new memoirs I was glad I kept that week's magazine. Two memoirs that he panned were books I was planning to purchase and now I'm glad I didn't; one I wouldn't have been interested in at all and the fourth, AN EXCLUSIVE LOVE by Johanna Adorjan and translated by Anthea Bell, went to the top of my reading list.

Mr. Genzlinger's pithy and humorous article was a pleasure to read. He ended his review with these thoughts: "If you don't feel you were discovering something as you wrote your memoir, don't publish it. Instead, hit the delete key, and then go congratulate yourself for having lived a perfectly good, undistinguished life. There's no shame in that."

Kudos to Mr. Genzlinger!  He has singlehandedly renewed my faith in the New York Times Book Review Magazine!

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