Reviewing Some of My Reviewing

OresmanLibrary, nymag.com
OresmanLibrary, nymag.com

In an idle moment (ha! as if I ever have those!), I was going through the book reviews I have written over the past year or so of blogging, both on this site and on the Crime Fiction Lover website.  I wanted to see if there were any patterns emerging.

Well, the first and most obvious pattern is that I read a LOT of crime fiction – I would say about 80% of my reading is dedicated to this genre.  And sometimes I worry that this will affect my own writing, as I also write in this genre.  Will I become too influenced by the writers I admire?  My excuse is that I read such a variety of books, from shaky debuts to authors at the height of their powers, from all over the world, with all sorts of different cultural influences and styles, that I am safe.

Within the crime fiction genre, over the past year I have read 26 police procedurals, 10 thrillers (of the high-octane action variety), 10 psychological thrillers (of the ‘hide under the covers and shudder’ variety), 7 ‘form-busters’ – that don’t fit neatly into any category, 6 classic detective novels, 5 cosy mysteries, 5 noir, 1 medical thriller and 1 historical crime novel.  After some pondering, I came to these conclusions:

1) Police procedurals are the most popular form being written today (and I include forensic teams or psychological profilers in that category, as they work so closely together).

2) This doesn’t necessarily reflect my personal preference. I like noir far more than that, and I like action thrillers far less than that, for instance.  However, sometimes you have to review books for which you do not have a natural inclination, which makes me wonder if I am doing them justice.  Perhaps someone with more of an appetite for non-stop action scenes would view them more kindly and convert my 3 or 4 stars to 5 stars.

3) I expected my non-English literature to outweigh my English one.  By this, I mean literature that was originally written in a language  other than English (I did in fact read a lot of translations).  However, in the case of crime fiction, I certainly read more English-speaking authors – 37 – than foreign ones – 31.  When it comes to overall literature, perhaps the balance is slightly better: 50/50.  And this, despite the fact that I am in a place where you have to make an effort to find English or American books (that are not translated into French).  That probably does indicate a slight preference for the familiar or a sense of ‘coming home’ to my well-known authors.  Then again, perhaps it just shows a reluctance to step out too far from my comfort zone.

But perhaps the most obvious conclusion is: with all of the business travel and workshop-preparing, and with all of this reading and reviewing, when on earth do I get time to do any writing?

Answers on a postcard, please.

 

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