My Life in Reviewing BooksApr 12, 2012 Write an essay on this topic.
Popular Products in BooksThe Bottom Line Reading and reviewing books is a big part of my daily routine, which begins at 5:00 a.m. Each on-line review URL has its strengths and weaknesses. Epinions.com remains my favorite.
Paul Owens and Norma Eckroate - The Dog Whisperer: A Compassionate, Nonviolent Approach to Dog Training
Earlier today I posted review number 300 to epinions.com. It is about an 1892 novel of Colorado, USA and Rajputana, India co-authored by Rudyard Kipling and his about to die 30-year old American friend Wolcott Balastier.
Allow me, please, to pause on this occasion and share with fellow epinionators why I review products (mainly books), how I select most of them and to what on-line URLs I post them.
-- (1) Normally there is some one "classic" writer in whom I am immersed for between one and three years. In the order of my immersions since I first posted to epinions on December 17, 2006, those principal classic writers have been since then
---- Sir Walter Scott (1771 - 1832), last posting December, 2007
---- James Fenimore Cooper (1789 - 1851), last posting: NED MYERS, December 31, 2010
---- Rudyard Kipling (1865 - 1936), first posting January 06, 2011 - Peter Hopkirk, QUEST FOR KIM: IN SEARCH FOR KIPLING'S GREAT GAME.
I am also currently reviving my pursuit of academic philosophy suspended 50 years ago, focusing nowadays on the phenomenology school of Edmund Husserl and of his great student Saint Edith Stein. I will teach a "Young Kipling" adult education course in October 2012 and may continue another year reading Kipling's post 1910-works.
I am not sure of my next author immersion after Husserl, Stein and Kipling but am leaning toward the much neglected American original Orestes Brownson (1803 - 1876). In his lifetime he was frequently called "The Reviewer."
When I began reviewing for epinions in December 2006 I had years behind me of reviewing on-line first for BARNESANDNOBLE.COM and a couple of years later for AMAZON.COM.
-- (1) BN.COM is the only site that I review for imposing a fixed limit on words that you can write (from memory: 3,500 key strokes). I also like its feature of flagging related reading that you can post, assuming they are sold by BN. One drawback: BN permits only one paragraph. I add *** to indicate paragraph breaks.
-- (2) AMAZON.COM invites TAGS and makes it easy to create links to URLs of other books sold by AMAZON. It is, I believe, by far the most widely read of the various sites I write for. I also accepted the offer to read and review books and other items for free under its VINE program.
-- (3) EPINIONS.COM. Once upon a time, while googling for some literary trivia or other I first came across EPINIONS. I tried to send a review up but was told I had to join first: with pen name and password. I chose the clumsy AOHCAPABLANCA to point to myself. AOH is short for the Ancient Order of Hibernians (an Irish Catholic men's fraternal order like Knights of Columbus; José Raúl Capablanca y Graupera (19 November 1888 – 8 March 1942 ) was world chess champion in the 1920s. I became enamored of his games and writings at age eight in Shreveport and still wish I was half as good at chess as that not very well educated Cuban lawyer and diplomat who lived mainly in New York.
What I liked from the beginning about EPINIONS was that a reviewer received almost immediate reaction to what he wrote. I cherished and still do COMMENTS more than anything else. I make very little money from epinions but that is not why I review. I treat the five star rating system as basically meaning that an AVERAGE production deserves THREE STARS. I award a lot of FOUR STARS, few FIVE STARS. I like the ancillary PROS, CONS and BOTTOM LINE. My pet peeve is a review that says CONS: none. I suspect that CONS:none is motivated by haste to get on to three more reviews the same day or laziness or not having walked all around the book or the razor blade or the woofer and really intuite it, warts and all.
I next added to my list of review destinations
-- (4) BIBLIO.COM based in my county seat of Asheville, North Carolina. Like BN.COM, BIBLIO.COM also promotes one paragraph reviews. It does not invite review TITLES. Its five star rating system is unique in that the highest rating merely commends the title to be read. There are some book dealers who apparently use only BIBLIO.COM and state that they give a percentage of their profits to third-world causes.
Perhaps three years ago I added
-- (5) LUNCH.COM. It was in its infancy and I was an early reviewer. It invited reviewers to transfer any and all reviews they had done elsewhere to LUNCH.COM which I declined to do. Every one of my reviews (now usually six) of any book I read to the end is notably different from each of the others. I like the fact that in addition to having your reviews listed at LUNCH.COM as a generic site, you can also pigeonhole your review there as one for BOOKS, SCIENCE FICTION, HI TECH GADGETRY and MUSIC. Like EPINIONS, LUNCH.COM reacts almost instantly to a posting with a rating system simpler than any other site but with encouragement of comments and exchanges of views. I have the sense that LUNCH members tend to be the youngest and most fresh-eyed on any of my six sites.
-- (6) OPENLIBRARY.ORG. As with EPINIONS.COM I blundered into this one three or four months ago. It is sui generis as a site. You get into such things as SUBTITLES, WEIGHT AND DIMENSIONS, EDITIONS, PAGES and such like. I suppose that you can add a substantive review but I have never seen any and have ventured none myself over the three or four months I have sent material there. You may be adding a new title or you may simply be updating or correcting material already there.
In conclusion, in addition to my "immersions," I will tend to continue to write reviews about religion, history, cross-cultural exchanges, biographies and some politics. If Orestes Brownson ever becomes a canonized saint, he will surely be designated Patron of Reviewers. In his own lifetime he was often called simply "The Reviewer."
Thanks for reading my random thoughts. Please comment!
Black Mountain, NC 28711
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