Good Reviews in Low? Places

The title for this post came into my head this morning, and the places aren’t low, just unexpected…but, now the damn Garth Brooks song is stuck in my head. Hopefully it will flee my brain once this blog post gets out.

So, I look to many places for book reviews, as all book lovers do. I always go to the Edmonton Book Bloggers first, of course, but there are many other fabulous review blogs out there, as well as goodreads etc. But, I also still read newspaper and magazine reviews. I expect to find good reviews in places like newspapers. I love Quill & Quire for book news, though I sometimes have mixed reviews about their reviews; they can be a little careless with spoilers, especially with kids’ books. What I didn’t expect to find was that two of my favourite magazines for book reviews would be Elle and Entertainment Weekly. Does that make me sound like a snob? Crap. Probably.

Has this chick been living under a rock? Yes, it’s true, 2 years ago was the first time I ever picked up Elle magazine. I’m just a little slow to this party as I genuinely have no interest in fashion, and I still have serious qualms about how the fashion industry promotes itself.  Let me clarify, it’s the American version of Elle that I enjoy (UK is okay, Canadian one is insipid) and that I only buy it for the articles – I sound like a dude defending his Playboy addiction. The American version is surprisingly deep, and their book news, and reviews, and author interviews are excellent. Though they do cover male authors, I quite enjoy that they focus on female authors as I don’t read enough of them and it’s good to get reputable recommendations on them. Elle is where I first heard about Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being (which I loved), it’s where I’ve read in-depth interviews with Susan Minot and Jeanette Winterson (Winterson being one of my favourite authors). It’s also where they did a kick ass review of Winterson’s newest book, The Daylight Gate, only to have me go looking for it and discover that it hasn’t been released in Canada yet – it’s been more than a year, it’s killing me! And, thanks to Jennifer over at The Offprint, I discovered Elle’sChick Lit vs Lit Chicks” article on excellent female authors recommending other excellent female authors.

The Entertainment Weekly might be more of a surprise to some. If you are a non-believer, I’m here to tell you that the book section is quite good in this magazine. The reviews in general are actually very intelligently written, with some excellent zingers for the movies/tv shows/books that don’t pass muster and some really nice commentary on the ones that do. Be warned that they expect you to keep up with the TV shows they are reviewing, so they are very spoilerific. But, back to the books. They choose a surprising variety of books from all over the spectrum to review – a YA book, Grasshopper Jungle, will get the spotlight in one edition, and then the fairly obscure, The Parallel Apartments, will get it the next. They also just did a great piece on Max Brooks’ (author of World War Z) latest graphic novel, The Harlem Hellfighters, which tells the story of the African American infantry unit that was sent out in WWI and how, though they were the most decorated unit to return, they returned to face extreme racism from the US government.  As I’m someone who likes to believe I’m not a total book snob, it’s nice to have reviews of both the fun reads and the deeper reads come in the same magazine.

Have you found good book reviews in unexpected places? If so, I’d love to hear about them!

About writereads

A Canadian book club podcast that will change the world of literature forever.
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6 Responses to Good Reviews in Low? Places

  1. lauratfrey says:

    Oo I’ve had a blog post like this bouncing around in my head for a while now! Love it! Will be back later with a better reply 🙂

  2. Naomi says:

    I saw that article “Chick Lit vs Lit Chicks” too, and loved it! I had no idea that Elle had good book reviews. I don’t look at many magazines, especially ones that I think are just fashion/make-up, etc., because I have no interest, but now watch me stand in the pharmacy going through all the magazines looking for good book reviews. Agh, I don’t need to read anymore book reviews. Since starting my blog I read so many of them, and I keep wondering why I am not just reading my book instead all that time. But I love reading about books almost as much as I love reading them. Am I weird?
    Thanks to my neighbour, I have discovered that the O magazine has a good book review section. Also, I can learn how to de-clutter so I can have more space for my books. 🙂

    • writereads says:

      I feel the same way about the amount of time I spend reading book reviews, they take a lot of time away from my reading of actual books. And yet, the addiction to them continues…
      I tell myself it’s useful as someone who writes book reviews, you want to see what the good reviewers are doing and try to emulate it and to see what the bad reviewers are doing and stay away from it. It’s research 🙂

  3. hey! thanks for linking to my post. i really loved the piece at elle, with the female authors recommending other great women writers for us to read. it was an unexpected, but very happy-making, find! 🙂

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