A Book Is Known By Its Review

The art of analyzing a book review is one every student should master. I am an experienced review reviewer because I began writing reviews when I was a junior in Sunday school. I reviewed books from our Sunday school library, which was located on a window sill in our classroom. It was a collection of paperbacks by authors like Paul Hutchens and other juvenile writers—that is, writers of juvenile fiction. I read so many Sugar Creek Gang books that my teacher was afraid I’d get diabetes. Twice I almost fell out of the window.

The first step in analyzing a book review is to note who wrote the review. You must try to figure out why he or she was chosen to write this particular review. Suppose the book is Lectures on Gnosticism and the reviewer is identified as “Horace Postlewaithe, Jr., head pastry chef at Hoffmeyer’s Bakery, Madison, Wisconsin.” This probably indicates that the book review editor is overweight, owes Hoffmeyer money, and is paying off his bill by sending free review books to the employees. On the other hand, it could also mean that Postlewaithe, Jr., is related to the author or the publisher, in which case they are guaranteed an enthusiastic review. Either way, don’t bother to read the review. It will be biased and you will waste money buying the book.

However, if the reviewer is Dr. Qumran Masada, noted professor of dispensational archaeology at Feeblecorn University, you know immediately the review will be over your head. Furthermore, the professor will complain that the book did not have enough information on the Ming Dynasty, and so cannot be trusted on any other subject. Again, you have saved money.

You must also take note of the publisher, because there are some publishers we ...

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