Book Review Etiquette

So i am about to finish reading Brian McLaren’s A New Kind of Christian for my summer course devoted to thinking theologically about culture.  I was thinking of doing a short book review, but since the book is over seven years old, i’m not sure if i should devote my time to it.  So i’m calling for fellow theo-bloggers to offer their opinions on when (or if?) a book is too old to review.  Any other additional thoughts on how to do book reviews in a proper, near nose-in-the-air manner is appreciated.   


10 responses to “Book Review Etiquette

  1. A good book is always worth reviewing, no matter how old it is. Think in centuries … at least!

  2. If you are going to post the review here on your blog, then there is no expiration date. The rule of thumb for print journals I have found is 3 or 4 years, give or take a bit depending on whether or not the book has yet gotten sufficient attention.

  3. Travis and Jason,

    Thanks for your thoughts. I’ve wanted to write reviews of older work, but i wondered if it seemed a bit arrogant to post a review of a great work that has stood the test of time when all i’ve done is start a blog!

    Travis, your point about print journals is helpful to me, although i was referring to my blog. I’m still trying to figure out how to get my foot in the door on that one. Any thoughts?

    Jason would the converse of your statement be true as well: a bad book is never worth reviewing, no matter how new it is?

  4. Standing ‘the test of time’ never puts anything beyond review or criticism (what would happen to all those bible scholars or Shakespeare ‘experts’?).

    An old bad book may be worth reviewing, particularly if it offers a clear voice on issues that remain relevant. The other reason that immediately comes to mind is if it either did or continues to exert some influence in the shape of thought. My preference though is to stick to reviewing good books (no matter how old). This sometimes makes it hard when a publisher or journal sends you a lousy book to review.

  5. Hey Jason, thanks for the comment. Just so you know, my question was sarcastic, a weak attempt as humor. Disregard.

    Since you mentioned book reviews, any advice on how to get that started? I have emailed one publisher about a possible book to review, but haven’t heard back from them. Any recommendations on which publishers to request review copies from?

  6. Publishers nearly always prefer to deal directly with the journal so your best bet is to get in touch with the book review editor of the journals you’d be interested in reviewing for and let them now what area/s your most interested in. If you send me an email I can put you in touch with a few folk who may be interested in hearing from you.

  7. Oops … a few typos there 😦

  8. Jason is right: I second his advice and add the following – start small. Don’t pester the big journals until you have some reviews under your belt. There are plenty of mid and lower level journals out there who are happy to have eager reviewers. My advice would be to find one and practice your craft for a while.

  9. Jason and Travis,

    Thank you both for these very helpful comments. Jason, i’ll try to get in touch with you soon.

  10. Somehow i missed the point. Probably lost in translation 🙂 Anyway … nice blog to visit.

    cheers, Farmer

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