The other day, my fellow Huffington Post blogger took NY Times tv critic Alessandra Stanley to the worldwide woodshed. In so doing, Mr. Levinson recognized that criticizing a critic is almost never done. By the same token, their praise is sung about as often as good umpires. My question to you: Who are the best and the worst reviewers of books in our genre? And Why?

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A very belated 'thank you ma'am.'
Stasio's good, but they don't give her enough space. Few reviewers have any real intellectual chops. A reviewer is not really a critic: a critic is (or used to be) someone who brings a wide range of knowledge to a field. Obviously, this is no longer the case. Someone might come to book reviewing through the cooking page. John Loomis mentioned the lack of a sense of humor in some reviewers: this is absolutely true. In teaching, I've realized the smartest students are the ones with a sense of humor; this probably holds true of reviewers as swell.
I'm talking about the ability to see humor in the content of their reading.
I'm giving a general answer to the question so here goes, LOL. I feel other writers are sometimes the worst and best critics of other writers.

As for reviewers, I respect them and I enjoy a good review but I don't know the names of a lot of reviewers just some that I've encountered through blogs and in writing groups. I don't pay attention to too many "big" reviewers because I find they don't read the types of books I like anyway. They always seem to read literary fiction, memoirs and political books. Not my cup of tea so I don't usually read reviews that focus on these types of books.

I don't care who the reviewer is or where they come from as long as they are honest and respectful. Nothing else impresses me. I see a reviewer from a major paper in the same light as I'd see an Amazon reader's review or a blog review. It's the review that counts to me, not who wrote it. But I often find that even though us authors complain about reviews of our own books, some of us don't refrain from being brutally honest about others' books. What I hate is when I'm in a writing forum or group and the authors are tearing up another author's books yet they wanna complain about the reviews they're getting?

We should treat others how we wanna be treated. We need to be honest when reviewing but always respectful too. So yes, I gotta say writers can and often are the worst critics of other writers. And for those who complain about reviews they get then turn around and attack another author's books, if you can dish it, you need to be able to take it.

Best Wishes,
I certainly value reviewers for major papers above others. These people are experienced and know what to look for. Their comments are also usually balanced. Besides, if they weren't good at judging books, they wouldn't get paid by the paper. Voluntary reviews for web sites are another matter. There you find cliques, and the reviewers may have closed minds to anything that doesn't fit their conception of a mystery. Amazon reviewers are either wonderful because they bring their anthusiasm to the matter (and frequently, they are also very good at writing reviews), or they are the sorts of people who want to show off or take out their ill humor on an author.
You can't beat fans' reviews, even if they aren't happy with your latest. I don't mind criticism provided it's constructive, but when someone rips into your book and you know they haven't even read it, that totally galls me.
Hi, Dan
over the years I've learned to toughen my skin from some awful reviews. If someone is good enough to buy the book rip into it, so long as it's not a personal attack then I have no problems with that. How are you doing, anyway?


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