The Critical Book Review

I recently agreed to review a book that seemed to be right up my alley. A qualitative study of adult language learners’ non-linguistic outcomes (Hey! That’s what I do!). I had never heard of the book or the author, but I like the publisher and was excited to learn what other researchers are doing in my little sub-field.

The book was great. Then it was confusing. Then it was enthralling. Then it left me hanging. Then it didn’t answer its own research question. And yet, after I turned the last page, I kept thinking about the results of the author’s study for days, even weeks afterwards.

So, was it a great book? Or a terrible book?

Turns out it was a very good book with some very serious flaws.

So, I found myself for the first time needing to write a book review that would be critical of a book I really liked. A book by a publisher I want to get a contract with. By an author I am probably going to run into at some point because our field isn’t exactly huge. I wanted to my review to capture the high highs and low lows I felt while reading, the overall value of the book, and the serious problems I encountered. And I wanted to be nice and for people to still like me after they read it.

And as crazy as this may sound, I didn’t want to hurt the author’s feelings. I know she will read the review, and I liked her work and think she has a great perspective.

So, much internet research and soul searching later, I have some links to share. And a book review forthcoming that I hope reflects what I really thought of the book.

http://chronicle.com/article/Why-Bother-Writing-Book/131360/

http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/2013/06/20/should-authors-write-bad-book-reviews/

http://www.salon.com/2012/08/18/how_to_write_a_bad_review/

http://www.poliscijobrumors.com/topic.php?id=75695

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