Week 2: In which I review…some reviews

Snowball’s article (“Teenagers talking about reading and libraries,” 2008) was an interesting read. It was a detailed and insightful study of a selection of Australian teens, and even though the study was qualitative, as the author points out, the insight into the complex relationship that teens have with reading and with libraries is probably representative of a larger group of teens from similar backgrounds. Some points that stood out:

  • even the vehement “non-reading” teens could name things they liked to read and remembered enjoying reading at some point (p. 108)
  • kids from families of readers read more, backing up the research on this topic (p. 109)
  • libraries are not a popular place among teens (p.110)
  • teens love magazines, but don’t count the internet as reading (p. 111)
  • more proof that Google is like some sort of upside-down-world anti-librarian (p. 112)
  • comics and graphic novels–what’s the difference? Is there one, or is it just an arbitrary division and semantic privileging? (p.112)
  • Librarians can take advantage of the diversity in teen’s views on reading and reading materials by “providing variety in reading materials to cater to all teenagers’ tastes and not value any one material more than another” (p. 114)

Now, on to the reviews.

The Canadian Review of Materials (CM) reviews were generally well-done, descriptive, detailed, and probing. However, I disliked the excerpt portion of the standard review format. I have a deep dislike of excerpts; I feel that a portion of a novel, or of any story, taken out of context does not necessarily represent the source material. That being said, the reviews would be really helpful in determining whether the book is worth buying. I also liked that most of the reviews I read discussed the technical aspects of the writing, such as style and tone. The review of Emma Donoghue’s Room was spot on, in line with my own thoughts on the (excellent) novel.

The VOYA reviews were less helpful, consisting of plot summaries that seemed more like the publisher’s descriptions of the novels. They were shorter than the CM reviews (yay) and did not contain excerpts (also yay). Most reviews discussed pros and cons, but there was no rating given, and anyone hoping to use the VOYA reviews as guides to purchasing or recommending titles would be frustrated. And for some weird reason, I could not find a single VOYA review of a book I had read. WHAT? So weird.

–Robyn

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