I hope the Girl Scouts don't find out where I live, or else I'm really screwed.
My newspapers started showing up over the weekend, so on Sunday I parked myself on the couch, turned on the baseball game, and proceeded to flip through it. What before my wondrous eyes should appear? A book review for Tribute by Nora Roberts. You could have knocked me over with a feather.
As a general rule I have little sympathy for people who refuse to help themselves. My most recent Romancing The Blog column was about independent booksellers refusing to stock romance fiction, then wondering why they lose business to Borders, B&N, Amazon and WalMart. Duh. I feel the same way about newspaper book coverage.
At this point, it's been fairly well documented that book review sections are dying in many national newspapers. Many literary types are gnashing their teeth, sending out battle cries, and generally continuing to remain utterly clueless. This trend has been no different for one of my local papers where book review coverage used to be a separate pull-out section a la The New York Times Book Review. Then it was cut in half, and the pull-out section became book reviews and editorial commentary. Now? Bye-bye pull-out section, hello to burying a couple of book reviews in the entertainment section.
I look at a variety of review sources for my job, including newspaper reviews. You know why these sections are in trouble? Because 95% of what they review are
I'm a very simple girl, with simple tastes. All I really want in a book is to be entertained. I want characters I give a damn about, an interesting plot, and to keep flipping the pages. Really, that's about it. And I think after you strip it down to the bare bones, 99.9% of readers out there would agree with me. But for too many years, newspapers have been providing book reviews for books your average Joe Schmo has no desire to read. The argument has been that newspaper reviews shouldn't cater to the lowest common denominator, to which I say "get bent," but hell - a couple of popular fiction reviews isn't going to cause the demise of western civilization. I'm not saying chuck all of the hoity-toity stuff, but dang, bring it down a notch or two.
So it was with part elation, and part trepidation, when I saw the book review for Tribute in my local paper this past Sunday. My good angel was thinking, "Yippeeee! They're reviewing a romance" while my bad angel was thinking, "Danger, Danger Super Librarian. Sneers, condescending attitude, and high blood pressure ahead!" But much to my delight it was a good review! And there was no backhanded sneering towards romance novels! Oh joy! Oh delight! Oh sunny day!
The review itself isn't online yet, and I already chucked my copy of the paper, so I'm paraphrasing wildly here - but in a nutshell? The reviewer said that Tribute was a highly-enjoyable pageturner, which should come as no surprise since Roberts has a reputation for writing highly-enjoyable pageturners.
So we'll see where this goes. Part of me hopes that the national newspapers will wake up and smell the coffee now that entire book review sections have been slashed. But then my bad angel pipes up and the natural cynic in me finds it highly unlikely. I'd resort to knocking newspaper editors in the head with a frying pan, but I'm not sure that would work all that well either.