Understanding Book Reviews

August 9th, 2011 Posted in Industry, Kim, Uncategorized

We really can’t take credit for this post since we snaked it from Full Stop, a new and very cool book site that everyone should bookmark and adore. But with that said, we’re posting it anyway, primarily because their take on demystifying book review terms was, well, hilarious. And since we sort of have a book review site… well, here we are.

As far as we can tell we’ve never used any of the following terms, which puts us leaps and bounds ahead of Jonathan Franzen, who was pretty much called out for what seems to be his inability to review a book without using the words “consistent” or “upsetting”. (As a quick aside, that link takes you to a wonderful page on Flavorwire.)

So here they are! Some of our favorites from Full Stop’s list of cliche book review terms and what reviewers really mean when typing them:

ambitious: I did not finish this book.

dazzling: the writer has an MFA from a top 100 program.

deft: the writer has an MFA from a top 20 program.

disappointing: the author slept with my spouse before we were married.

epic in scope: the author needs a better editor.

flawed: this book is similar to the book I was planning to write.

fully realized: there is a paragraph devoted to a piece of furniture, probably made of mahogany.

gripping: I read this book on the toilet.

in the tradition of ___: I finally read War & Peace, and I want everyone to know.

masculine: the author isn’t misogynistic–the characters are!

our greatest living prose stylist: the review is of a so-so book by an old author, or it is appearing in the New York Times.

puts a magnifying glass to contemporary society: the book mentions Twitter or terrorism.

unputdownable: I ride the subway.



Leave a Reply