Online dating and book reviews

CoverWe all have at least one story in us. But very few of us will ever write a book. Even a blog may be a stretch too far. Which leaves us with the option of the book review.

The nay-sayers will be quick to question the value of book reviews, but let it be known: on any catalogue, a book displayed with a picture of its cover, a brief description of its contents and followed by a couple of short book reviews is far more likely to be read.

I’m not going to tell you how to do this – you’ve probably all read a gazillion reviews anyway, but here’s a few hints on maybe what not to do:

  • Saying: “I loved/hated this book/film” with a big fat full stop at the end of the sentence just isn’t enough. Not unless you’re Stephen Fry, and even then.
  • If you’re still talking after 3 minutes, you have gone on for too long. About 50 written words should do it. Just piqué our interest. That is all.
  • Don’t mislead – for example, if you didn’t actually read the whole book, say so and say why. That in itself is valuable for a reader to know.

If you’ve got a real block about reviewing anything, try reviewing yourself. There may come a time in your life when you want to meet more people. You want to date, or pursue a relationship and so far no-one’s come knocking on your door. It’s online dating time for you. In other words: You will have to book review yourself. Follow the same rules for writing book reviews (as above). But to get fully into the zone with it, I recommend reading the personal ads in the The Times Literary Supplement.

CoverI once shared a subscription to this behemoth of literary reviews with a friend. We tried, we really did. But the bulk of the reviews were on books we sheepishly admitted we would never read. But we both loved the Personal Ads column designed especially to cater for: “middle-class, well educated, intellectuals”. That’s us. You get just 30 words to convince someone to take a punt on you. They are succinct wee gems of the self. Have a look at these two compilations to get you started: They Call me Naughty Lola and Sexually I’m More of  a Switzerland. Here’s a couple of examples:

I celebrated my fortieth birthday by cataloguing my collection of bird feeders. Next year I am hoping for sexual intercourse. And a cake. Join my mailing list at box no. 6831. Man.

Or the brutally brief

I am not an Accountant. Box no. 7452

 

CoverThen just do it. I bash out my short book reviews fairly quickly, on desk, at work. After they’re done, mind not to stand between me and the Catalogue Computer. I like to elbow my way across the library to see the cover of the book I have just reviewed on that Recently Reviewed moving banner thingy. My pleasures are simple.

Writing reviews of books, or films or ourselves comes down to one’s own opinion. So let those babies out into an unsuspecting world. May they thrive.

Because best of all, here at last is something you cannot possibly do wrong.

From New Zealand to New York: Cool new stuff from selectors

The Native Land Court 1862-1887Cover of The Native Land Court by Richard Boast.

Perhaps not the easy read to take on holiday but never the less an important moment in our understanding of New Zealand history, this book contains a full introduction explaining the history of the Maori Land Court and contains over 100 principal cases each of which include full text and introductory commentary explaining the case and its significance.

The author stresses that this is a New Zealand legal history, not to “Maori history” or ethnohistory, and this interview with him explains more fully his reasons for writing such an important book.

 

Taryn Simon: The Picture Collection

I haven’t actually seen this book, but seeing as it is inspired by the New York Public Library’s picture archive (which contains 1.2 million prints, postcards, posters, and printed images, most of which have been cut from secondary sources, such as books and magazines,) I am intrigued to see the images it contains. The book is based on an exhibition of the same name.

Cover of Humans of New YorkHumans of NewYork  emerged from a very popular blog of the same name.  It features random photos from around New York of everyday people, alongside anecdotes that capture what life it really like in a vibrant often unforgiving city.

I’ve taken over 5,000 portraits of people in New York, and I find out a little bit about everyone I photograph…”

“Well, you’re not finding out a thing about me!”

 

 

Cover of Stuff I've been readingIn his new book Stuff I’ve been Reading Nick Hornby tells us to “read what you enjoy, not what bores you”.  Taken from the American magazine The Believer these short entertaining articles give us a glimpse of Nick Hornby’s life and reading habits, and is definitely a book to enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

four hundred colour photos, including exclusive portraits and all-new stories, and a distinctive vellum jacket, Humans of New York is a stunning collection of images that will appeal not just to those who have been drawn in by the outsized personalities of New York, but to anyone interested in the breathtaking scope of humanity it displays. Heartfelt and moving, Humans of New York is a celebration of individuality and a tribute to the spirit of a city. “An instant publishing phenomenon.” –“The New York Times” “Visually arresting and disarmingly deep… The photographs in this volume, some of which have never been published before, capture the city’s inhabitants with a commendable eye for demographic diversity and everyday street fashion. But it’s Stanton’s interviews with his subjects, usually excerpted from their rawest moments, that are the most captivating as they highlight both the hardship and the little victories of an often-unforgiving city.” – – See more at: http://christchurch.bibliocommons.com/item/show/841218037_humans_of_new_york#sthash.jiR3axhp.dpuf
four hundred colour photos, including exclusive portraits and all-new stories, and a distinctive vellum jacket, Humans of New York is a stunning collection of images that will appeal not just to those who have been drawn in by the outsized personalities of New York, but to anyone interested in the breathtaking scope of humanity it displays. Heartfelt and moving, Humans of New York is a celebration of individuality and a tribute to the spirit of a city. “An instant publishing phenomenon.” –“The New York Times” “Visually arresting and disarmingly deep… The photographs in this volume, some of which have never been published before, capture the city’s inhabitants with a commendable eye for demographic diversity and everyday street fashion. But it’s Stanton’s interviews with his subjects, usually excerpted from their rawest moments, that are the most captivating as they highlight both the hardship and the little victories of an often-unforgiving city.” – – See more at: http://christchurch.bibliocommons.com/item/show/841218037_humans_of_new_york#sthash.jiR3axhp.dpuf