What’s the Point of a Book Review?

Who are book reviews written for? Who are they written by? Is it the exercise of an intellectual of some age who feels the need to prove his/her intellectual prowess by discussing a book?

Are you more likely to trust a smarty-pants review than one where someone says, “Seriously, this book is like dancing with Rihanna at Cropover—read it!”? Is reading books an intellectual pissing contest? Are show-offy, over-written book reviews the reason why some folks feel like they can’t access books, as it is the realm of the overly-knowing?

Is the book review written to encourage people to read the book?

How many people who write book reviews have even read the book they are reviewing? Has anyone ever written a charming review for a book they loathed? Was there money involved? Is money always involved? Did anyone mean the good things they said about Zadie Smith’s Swing Time? Like, they genuinely liked it? Why?

Is there joy in it, or just prestige and a hint of self-deprecation? Does the joy come from the prestige and the self-deprecation?

Do you prefer a well written book review or a book review you agree with?

Do people care about spoilers? Do you read the reviews after you finish the book to get a sense of commiseration like I do?

Does it only serve to further the agenda of the publishing industrial complex?

Do you ever read someone else’s book review and think “how are you paid to do this?” Do I sound bitter? Does any of this matter? Does anyone even care?


Asking for a friend.