Monday, April 30, 2012

On Writing Book Reviews for Booklist

For the past two years, I have been writing book reviews for Booklist, the review journal for public libraries from the America Library Association. Every month or so, I get a package from Adult Books Editor Brad Hooper with one, two, or (once) even three review copies of forthcoming books. Most have been science and nature books aimed at general readers. Early on, I received a series of human-animal interaction books - a man and his pet grizzly kind of books. I also got collections of thoughtful essays on human stewardship (or lack of) of our environment. I enjoyed all of these books immensely.

Then, I started getting books about the seas and oceans. Perhaps there is a boom in this field of publishing. I was not expecting it, but I am starting to feel I could test for some college credit in marine biology. I am sure I can now talk very knowledgeably with my old biology major apartment mate Joe about microorganisms and fisheries. Here is a list the marine-related titles that I have read and reviewed to date:

  • Demon Fish: Travels through the Hidden World of Sharks by Juliet Eilperin
  • Kraken: The Curious, Exciting, and Slightly Disturbing Science of Squid by Wendy Williams
  • Sex, Drugs, and Sea Slime: The Ocean's Oddest Creatures and Why They Matter by Ellen Prager
  • Bayshore Summer by Peter Dunne
  • Arctic Summer by Peter Dunne
  • The Great White Bear: A Natural and Unnatural History of the Polar Bear by Kieran Mulvaney
  • Fraser's Penguins: A Journey to the Future of Antarctica by Fen Montaigne
  • Horseshoe Crabs and Velvet Worms by Richard Fortey
  • Overfishing: What Everyone Needs to Know by Ray Hilborn
  • Ocean of Life by Callum Roberts
  • Floating Gold: An Unnatural History of Ambergris by Christopher Kemp
  • Horseshoe Crab: Biology of a Survivor by Anthony D. Fredericks
  • In Pursuit of Giants: One Man's Global Search for the Last of the Great Fish by Matt Rigney

The books at the bottom part of the list are not yet available in stores, but I have gotten to read them already. That is half the fun of being a book reviewer.

I have also found my reviewing has helped at parties. I go to very few, but I actually found myself in a conversation at one about the books of biologist Richard Fortey and was able to say "I've read his forthcoming book." Maybe I will now get more invitations. Everyone wants to know a book reviewer.


Citizen Reader said...

Did you like them all? Which one or two would you particularly recommend?
And, is it true that Booklist only includes positive reviews? I've heard that but never really had it confirmed.

ricklibrarian said...

I liked many of them. The Peter Dunne books and the book on penguins were my favorites, as all told personal stories.

Booklist reviews only items to be recommended to public libraries and is all positive.