Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Adventures in Reviewing

Note: This is a about a book review of a book with adult language in the title. You've been disclaimed.

Assignment time! (Almost)

Mandy's Blogger Book Club
As promised, I am writing a book review of America, You Sexy Bitch: A Love Letter to Freedom by Michael Ian Black and Meghan McCain for Mandy Book Bloggers Book Club. Mandy of the Well-Read Wife provided copies of the book free of charge to 47 bloggers; I was one of the lucky bloggers! I am stoked to be a part of the bloggers book club. I was especially stoked when I got my book in the mail. 

I read the book in three days. If I had received it on a day off, I probably would have sat down and read through the whole thing (instead, between work and home duties, I had to break it down). The reading was light, it kept my attention, made me laugh out loud several times, and even provoked some thought.   Plus, I was reading to write a book review. That meant serious reading.

I’ll admit it, though. I have not written a book review in nearly three years. While in school, I wrote many reviews and felt particularly confident about my book reviews towards the end of my coursework. School assignments often also had some form of framework to operate within. Opinions “I liked it” or “I didn’t like it” were generally frowned upon. Rather, the review argued the positives or negatives in light of the field, the argument, the historiography, or other intellectual mechanisms. And if I chose to review a book negatively, I operated within the comfort of a classroom. My paper was not accessible to the world. My points could be debated within the class and generally, what happened within the classroom, stayed within the classroom.

This review is different, however. I am free to say what I want. But I also recognize that my thoughts will be published to the vast unknown that is the interwebs. Granted, I don’t imagine a number higher than a class population will read my thoughts on the book, but writing for the internet definitely changes my approach. I also consider myself a particularly positive person, generally seeking the good. I can relate to Meghan McCain’s continual approach to picking out the positives in her world. I keep tripping up on how to approach this review. Do I do it Reading Rainbow-style? Do I offer suggestions on improvements? Do I only say what I liked about it?

This whole reviewing thing is becoming much more difficult than I expected. Mostly because I am making this way harder than I need to.

So like I said, I enjoyed reading the book. There were many aspects to the book that made me want to talk to somebody about it, say, like in a book club. (Oh, wait…)  From the crocs and linen pants style choice of Michael Ian Black to the sad Waffle House scene to the distinctions described between Memphis and Nashville. Blogging is going to be different than an actual discussion, for I get to write my thoughts into space and may or may not have further discussion. I think America, You Sexy Bitch would be an excellent airplane ride book. It’s funny, it’s light, it will help any flight go by faster, and its style lends itself well to being interrupted during travel. Its content would complement a trip, as well (seeing as the foundation of the book is essentially about a road trip across the United States). I don’t think the book was designed to be more than the thoughts of two people as they rode across the United States (for Cousin John actually did the driving, Gumdrop). So maybe, I wasn’t expecting much more than some light summer reading interspersed with giggles. The book served as that. But then again, the idea of the book provides much potential: two people coming from different backgrounds, both claiming a different political party, to write about their shared experience of trekking across the continental U.S. in an RV. So maybe I was expecting a little more?

Based on a comment my [awesomest] brother in law [ever] made when talking about the book and reviewing the book, I decided to leave this post be (a post where I write about reviewing) and write a separate, official review. Consider this my preface post. I am historian, what can I say? I like using a lot of words.    

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