Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Book Review or Recommendation?

I follow several blogs regularly, but there are two that continuously ask me to think outside my comfort zone: Nicole Petrino-Salter's Into the Fire and Mike Duran's deCOMPOSE. Both offer thoughts on writing, theology, and life in general. Both authors are outspoken and aren't afraid to broach the controversial. If you want a daily challenge, I highly recommend their sites.

This week, they've both espoused their opinions of book reviews (FYI and In Praise of Bad Reviews) and on having a book review site. I found their take very interesting. After reading their blogs, they've encouraged me to clarify the purpose of Spire Reviews.

I began writing reviews several years back as I discovered how few Christians read Christian fiction. It's natural to assume that the target market would be churchgoers, right? Well, I volunteered in our church library and frequently asked fellow churchgoers what they liked to read. Rarely did someone answer Christian fiction because they often assume it's all simple, happy reads that fail to connect with the reader.

As a voracious reader, I knew that to be false so I started writing book reviews for our church newsletter and highlighted the diverse selection of Christian fiction (and some non-fiction). My intent never was to critique books, but to show the members of my church the variety they had to choose from. From there, it naturally made sense to post these recommendations on a blog.

But, for me to recommend books to others, they have to meet my very picky standards, likely born from my background in literature. I've completed 23 books this year and have only highlighted two on this blog. Not that the others were poorly written, but only two wowed me. If I'm going to make recommendations to a non-reader of Christian fiction, I want to make sure I tell them about the best books out there.

So, if the function of a review blog is to critique the novel or highlight its pros and cons, admittedly I am not doing that.

The purpose of this blog has been, and will continue to be, recommending excellent works to others, and to dialogue about Christian books, with a focus on fiction.


  1. And an excellent purpose it is, Brenda!

  2. Hmmmm...interesting takes -- mine's different though. Like you, I write reviews because I want to share what I love. I read a lot more then I review though. That's because I decided I didn't want to do the whole negative review thing. I usually really love a book or I hate it -- there's no between ground for me. And I think I'm pretty good at selecting what I know I'll like so that helps but still -- I have no intention of publishing a bad review anywhere. I just don't review the books I didn't like. My silence says it all, I guess. :-)

  3. Kav - Silence works well. I guess I'd rather remain silent than pick a book apart. I'm way to picky to air my views, and if other's like the books I don't, that's marvelous. Clearly those books weren't written for me and the readers aren't concerned with the things that bother me.

    As for your reviews, Kav, they're some of the best I've ever read. Keep writing.

  4. I must applaude you for wanting to support the best in Christian fiction. If someone receives a review from you---high praise indeed. I hope I'm one of the blessed one day. At least one thing I know for sure---it's different, with a topic most of the big houses shied away from. But it's real.

    Thank you so much for posting the front cover of my book on your debut author page.

  5. Christine, if your book is different, then that's exactly the kind of book I gravitate toward. I'll definitely pick it up when it comes out in paperback.

    And thank you for your kind words regarding Spire Reviews. :)

    [A little plug for Christine - Her debut novel, SHADOWED IN SILK, will release in e-book form in May of 2011, & in paperback in September. For more info on it, check out the Debut Novels page under the historical setting.]