Writing, Blogging, Learning

5 March 2008

Collaborative Reviews and the Battle for Literature

Gav Bad Speed-Reads, by andropolisThought in isolation is a little sterile, prone to fits and starts. Writing can help the learning process by forcing ideas into shape, but only conversation in its many forms can really beat out misconceptions. A blog is, or at least should be, a conversation in motion, and in that I’m thankful of the comments I received on my post yesterday.

I particularly want to mention John Quiggin’s rejoinder because it made me think more about the nature of the book review and what a certain type of blog can add to it. My position has been that online reviews tend towards the book report form, and I’ve been thinking – somewhat narcissistically – of blogs like this, single author affairs. In the first part of his comment Professor Quiggin pointed to the value of the book seminars on Crooked Timber, a multi-author blog to which he contributes and I read.


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22 February 2008

A Few Words on Big Ideas

Brevity can be liberating; sometimes the fewest words offer the most meaning. When applying for a job as a tutor in my second year of graduate school I was asked to describe my research in one sentence. One. Only. I stopped, thought, looked at the interviewer’s bookshelves, looked at her, looked at the floor, looked at my hands. All I could think was . . . daaah.

Microreviews for Kitties

Photo from: I Can Has Cheezeburger?

Then I started to talk and nailed it. One year in 20 words. So it can’t be too hard to write one sentence book reviews, right?

That’s what I’ve been doing with the ‘Reading’ and ‘Recommended’ sections in the sidebar — sharing quick thoughts on the big ideas of literature. Now I’m expanding the effort to include ‘Maybe, but . . .’ and ‘No! No! No!’, just to capture the full range of my reactions to what I read. You’ll notice that my definition of a book is fairly liberal.

Past microreviews are now stored on their own page with links to sites that carry more details. Feel free to leave any comments and suggest alternatives to what I’ve written. I’ll post them on the page to offer counterpoints.

Nothing, I hope, is truly incontestable in this puzzling world.