I have No Taste: Thoughts on My Less Than Authoritative Book Reviews

There’s something ridiculous about these books reviews. They’re short, for one, and rarely contain any original insights. Indeed, for many of them (especially those dealing with classic works), they tell you next to nothing. My goals in writing them are, first, to force myself to articulate at least some thoughts about the books, even if those thoughts are not particularly original or insightful, and two, to perhaps give you a bit of flavor of what the book is about and whether you should spend your time reading it.

The reviews are all keyed with one of three ratings:

“Recommended” means that I think the book would be of interest to most readers – its something at least a little special.

“Recommended for the Enthusiast” means that if this is your jam (i.e. crime fiction, classical history) it will be of interest, but if this isn’t your section of the library, perhaps you should avoid it.

“Not Recommended”. means you shouldn’t waste your time.

Some caveats:

I have no taste. I read heaps of crime novels, spy novels, and science fiction novels. Some of which are real literature, some of which are page turning mind candy.

I also read widely in subjects in which I am not an expert. For example, I have lately been reading extensively in ancient history, but I have no academic background in classics.  Take everything here with the knowledge that I’m just a white dude from a small town in Connecticut who went to mediocre schools. There is nothing special or authoritative about my opinions.

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  1. The Grand World of Books

    First off, never beat yourself up for “having no taste.” It doesn’t matter WHAT a person reads, so long as they are reading SOMETHING. And, crime novels, spy novels and science fiction novels tend to be somewhat smart in their own way, anyway, I think…and I know, because I read all of those as well.

    Secondly, in my opinion, what really matters for a good review is what you thought of the book. IF a reviewer has some background knowledge and can say definitively that the book is true to history or not, then that’s a bonus for me as a reader, but otherwise, I really want to know if a person whose reviews I trust enjoyed the reading experience. If they recommend it to their followers or not. If there were so many typos throughout the book that it was impossible to read (which is rarely the case, but I do like to know on the rare occasion it is.)

    What is great is that you take the time to put your opinion out there…I say if you enjoy doing it, keep it up. 🙂 If not, never pressure yourself, because unless you are doing it for a job, it’s just not worth torturing yourself over a hobby you really hate. And if you were doing it for a job, and hated it…perhaps it would be time to look at a change of profession as well.

    Best wishes!!

    1. seanv2

      Thanks for this! I wrote this post largely so I don’t feel the need to continually mention in my reviews that I realize its absurd that I’m writing a review of the Odyssey. It is a bit silly, but I enjoy and I think its useful (at least for me) so I’ll keep it up.

      I hope you and others keep reading!

      PS – Always looking for good recs on genre fiction. let us know what you particularly like!

  2. The Grand World of Books

    A couple of my favorites are the Gabriel Allon series (spy fiction) by Daniel Silva, and the Jack Daniels Mystery Series by J.A. Konrath. The Jack Daniels series is such a favorite that I have started to read through it a second time. They are violent, and seem graphic, so if that is not up your alley, it might be best to avoid those. But Gabriel Allon is fantastic and very classy, and mixes in a lot of art into the stories.

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