Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Former New York Times Books Editor Sam Tanenhaus On Journalism And The Art Of The Book Review


I love books. I always have. I have always had a great curiosity about all things and books can satisfy that curiosity. I also love a good story and once again books satisfy that need. 

For many years now, in addition to writing news and features on crime, espionage, terrorism and the military, I've been a book reviewer. I wrote book reviews for the Philadelphia Inquirer for a good number of years and these days my book reviews appear in the Washington Times. 

So I was interested in what former New York Times book editor had to say about the art and the journalism of the book review. Sam Tanenhaus was interviewed by Mary Gooderham at the University of Toronto. 

Your talk this week is on “The art of the book review.” What do you look for in a good review?

It’s not simply a matter of thumbs up or thumbs down, of stating your opinion and letting people know whether you like a book. If it’s done well, it can be a really superb form of journalism. Oscar Wilde once said criticism is the highest form of autobiography, and I think really good reviewers are actually writing miniature memoirs that invite readers in to share the experience of reading a particular book or books.

You can read the rest of the interview, which also covers Sam Tanenhaus’ views on journalism in general, teaching and politics, via the below link:

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