Today my guest post about my philosophy of book reviewing features on the excellent Artist Unleashed blog, which is curated by the multi-talented Jessica Bell, author, poet, musician, publisher and book cover designer.
As well as writing many works of fiction and poetry, Jessica is the founder and director of Vine Leaves Literary Journal, which celebrates the vignette – a short and ancient form of fiction that gets its name from being sufficiently succinct to fit on the back of a vine leaf. I’ve been proud to be part of the Vine Leaves team for a couple of years, editing its book blog, endearingly called Sampling the Wine. We review books by authors whose vignettes have been accepted for publication in Vine Leaves, and also, more recently, other literary fiction.
Here’s the opening paragraph of my post about reviews, ending with a link to read the rest of it on the Artist Unleashed blog – a site well worth exploring. Take the time to delve into its archives, and you’ll find all sorts of stimulating posts by other authors on topics related to books and writing.
As a reviewer for Vine Leaves Literary Journal and the Historical Novel Society, and an author of fiction and non-fiction, I have long believed that all writers ought not only to read widely, but also review the books they read.
It doesn’t matter whether or not they share their reviews in public, on retailers’ websites or social media, or on their own (book) blog. They don’t even have to write the reviews down. But it will help them grow as writers if they at least pause after reading one book to consider and digest what they’ve read, before moving on. READ MORE
I am grateful to Jessica for the opportunities she has given me to work with her on her blogs, and for her friendship and moral support elsewhere too – we recently spoke on a panel together at the Dublin Writers’ Conference, and I also had a fabulous time a couple of years ago as a guest speaker at her excellent writers’ retreat on Ithaca, one of the most formative experiences of my writing career.
Finally, I’d like to recommend Jessica’s books – fiction, poetry and writing guides for other authors. Good starting points are her novel String Bridge, her extraordinary dystopian poem/short story in verse Muted, and her Nutshell series of writers’ guides – Polish Your Fiction lives on my desk! So if you’ve not already read any of her books, head over to her author website and browse her catalogue.
If you enjoyed this post, you might also like to read:
- more about that Ithaca retreat here: A Summer of Extremes: From Ithaca to Inverness
- a post about other reviewing work that I do on BBC Radio Gloucestershire’s Book Club
- … and another about my role as book reviewer for Today’s Child magazine