Robert Crum’s article, “Are professional book reviewers better than amateurs?” appeared online in his “Fiction” column in The Guardian (2012, October 1). In the context of the British Man Booker literature award, Crum discusses the need for quality book reviews. He believes that high quality incorporates “literary critical context” (para. 8). This is, for sure, an important and desirable review feature.
Crum’s article made me think about the potential for a divide to form between professional and amateur reviews when selecting titles, i.e., a divide between “traditional, confident criticism” (para. 5) and “neglected points of view” (para. 9).
Let’s not allow such a divide to emerge. If professional reviews are ‘apples’ and amateur ones are ‘oranges,’ we can in fact compare them. Reach for the apples, but don’t neglect the oranges. Keep them both in the ‘fruit bowl’ of collection development and service to patrons. Librarians, please keep up-to-date about the ‘ingredients’ in your readers’ advisory ‘recipes.’
Some readers like apples; others like oranges; and others like fruit salad. Latham & Gross (2014) point out that young adult readers need to be connected with titles that suit their tastes (p. 95).
OK, the analogies are a bit corny and perhaps overdone . . . but worth considering.
Crum, R. (2012, October 1). Are professional book reviewers better than amateurs? The Guardian [online periodical]. Guardian News and Media Limited.
Latham, D., & Gross, M. (2014). Young adult resources today: Connecting teens with books, music, games, movies, and more. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.