Sunday, October 6, 2013

What's On The Menu?

Food critic Anton Ego from Pixar's "Ratatouille"
I'm not like that food critic in Ratatouille, who remains skeletally thin because he will not so much as swallow food that does not meet his exacting standards. I am critical about my books--hence the name of the blog--but I love them.

So what is it that I look for in a book?

I look for heart. I look for authors who use language like a scythe. I look for well-built worlds, where the setting lives and breathes alongside its inhabitants. I like stories about women, people of color, marginalized people getting their own voices. I like unusual corners of history, fantasy, sci-fi, and other places and times not too much like my own (on the surface, anyway.) I have a funny soft spot for evocative memoirs and authors who wax poetic about food.

I'll grump more than usual if I read a book whose plot hinges on cheap coincidences, or one populated by bland dude protagonist types coming of age in the exact same way that all the other bland dude protagonists have come of age. But I don't waste time grumping about books I didn't like at all (unless they were so terrible that I want you, dear reader, to be spared my suffering.)

On my previous blog, I was told that I write more about the negatives in a book than the positives. Part of that is because it's more fun; it's also easier to talk about what went wrong than to describe what went right.

Another reason is because I don't like to "spoil" books for new readers, particularly those I am recommending. Very often, the best parts of a book--the ones that make me sit upright in my chair and start gleefully reading aloud to my roommate--are the well-crafted plot twist, the revelation, the emotional crux of the story. How could I rob you of the joy of those discoveries? I'd never forgive myself.

I have a small backlog of reviews to repost, and a few library books on the shelf waiting to be read and reviewed in turn--a mix of historical fiction, sci-fi, and fantasy. Otherwise, I am always happy to hear recommendations for new books! You can post them in the comment section on any post, or email them to me.

I think, for an introduction, that will suffice. Time to serve up some book grumps!

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