One of the fun parts of having had a fiber arts blog for over five years (!) is that I’m regularly asked to review books, yarn and tools. I used to actively seek out this kind of writing when I first got started because it helped me develop my writing chops and develop an audience. Now, I rarely go looking for things to review. The opportunities present themselves to me. I receive books unsolicited. Sometimes I review books not because they were sent to me, but because I’ve bought them, and I really like them. I write about yarn and tools mainly in the process of using them for projects instead of writing specific reviews.
I thought you might like to know a little about my book review process. I don’t review every book that I receive. I don’t get compensated for reviewing books, and I am not obligated to review a book just because it’s been sent to me. I don’t typically review knitting and crochet books I dislike. I don’t see the point. It seems like drawing people’s attention to poor work, and that wastes everyone’s time. At the same time, I don’t have to love every detail of a book to blog about it. In fact, I see my role as providing my true opinion of the books I take the time to read and review.
I like to talk about the projects in the book, and if possible show pictures. I also like to talk about how the book is put together and how that might affect it’s ease of use to the reader. I love charts and schematics, so I’ll typically mention whether a book has them or not. I’m a geek about things like type and layout, so if a book’s production strikes me, I’ll mention that too. Sometimes a gorgeous book has really boring projects, or interesting and striking projects have been produced in a way that doesn’t let them live up to their full potential. That kind of thing interests me, and I’ll talk about it.
Often, in this very small world of knitting and crochet design, I’ll know the author of the book personally. More than likely, I’ve had some kind of interaction with her online even if we haven’t met at a trade show or conference. In that case, I like to make that clear to my readers as well, so that there’s no reason to think I’m disguising a bias. We’re part of a wonderful community of designers and authors, and we all like to support each other. With things like blogs, Facebook and Twitter, we now have more ways to do that, and I love being part of that community.
I’m interested to know what you as crocheters, knitters and readers think of book reviews on blogs. Do you find them helpful or interesting? Or would you rather find out about new books in other ways? What do you like to see in a book review?
Coming up, I’m going to be reviewing Shirley Paden’s Knitewear Design Workshop. I’ve had this book for a while, but I wanted to really digest it before I talked about it. I had some fun with it this weekend while I was designing a sweater.