Tom Gilson

How Not To Get a Book Reviewed (By Me, At Least)

Important: please see my apology in comment 12 below.

Someone recently sent me a book to review, following an exchange of emails in which I agreed to have it sent to me on condition that I wouldn’t be under any deadline to review it. The sender asked me to at least mention the book when I got it.

The “reviews” on the book’s back cover are rude, sarcastic, and obviously fake—this for a book by a Christian on a controversial doctrine.

I have now mentioned the book as requested. I have no interest in reading it: I have too many other books on my list that come with credible recommendations.

And I have no interest even in identifying the book: I don’t want my name included in the same company as the book’s fake reviews.

If the author wishes me to send it back, I can be reached by email. I will wait a week or so before I discard it.

Commenting Restored

The comment function here has been out of service, possibly causing frustration, for which I apologize. You can comment again now, and it will save and post as it should do. First-time commenters' comments will not appear, however, until approved in moderation.

14 thoughts on “How Not To Get a Book Reviewed (By Me, At Least)

  1. to proudly crow that you are dismissing a book without even reading it…well not only dismiss but condemn…
    all I can think to say is, wow…I see nothing thinking or christian about your attitude or response…

  2. Does anyone see where I condemned a book here? Which one?

    Does anyone see someone dismissing, perhaps even condemning a blogger as “Thinking? I think not,” or “nothing … christian [sic]” based on one short blog post?

  3. And there’s something odd about this business. Endorsements supposedly have an effect on potential readers’ purchasing and/or reading decisions. That’s why writers seek them. I’m willing to bet that floyd and Staci have chosen to read or not to read books based on who endorsed them.

    That’s what I did. I chose not to read the book. There are just two differences here:

    1) I explained what was in my mind when I chose not to read the book based on the endorsements. Usually we just silently place books on shelves when we do that, but I said it here in public, and

    2) The author had sent me the book asking for a review or a mention.

    I had promised to mention the book, but when I read the reviews I decided not to read it. I’m not sure how else I was supposed to navigate this territory. I suppose I could have named the book and not described the reviews, but then readers here would have had no way to understand why I chose not to read it.

    I got an email from the author today, explaining that the purpose of the “satirical” reviews was to make less of a big name orientation in the reviews, more of an ordinary people or little people kind of effect. If requested by someone who has sufficient reason to ask (sufficient for me to break my silence over the identity of the book, that is), I can reveal the name of the book, and you can judge for yourself if that was the effect those reviews produced.

  4. I’m getting a large number of visits here from a Facebook page to which I do not have access. I’d be grateful if someone would share with me what is being said about me in a place where I cannot read it. (Matthew 18:15 comes to mind here as potentially relevant, though I don’t know that for sure, obviously.)

    Thank you.

  5. interesting discussion. recently, i’ve learned to open my mind to many types of teachings just so that i can be educated about the world around me and about how my beliefs compare to the beliefs of others. it’s amazing how similar some of the beliefs of “other” doctrines are to the ones i was raised with. my beliefs have been transformed by this process. it helps me to love other people in a way i never knew was possible. isn;t that what love life’s about?

  6. I’m not sure that I’ve ever not read a book because of the reviews on the back cover. Why not try to read it?

  7. Sarah, I’m sure you have made decisions not to read some books, if not because of what was in the endorsements, then simply because there wasn’t much that drew you to read those books instead of something else. That’s the primary reason I’m not reading it: I don’t have time for it in light of everything else on my shelf, some of which is high priority for other required work I’m doing. That concern was what led me in the first place to tell the author I couldn’t accept a deadline for reviewing it. Along with the very low interest I had in it after seeing the endorsements, it’s what led me in the end to decide not to read it at all.

  8. Dear Sir,It certainly is one’s perogative to read or not read a book.If you are serious about the subject matter in your own conscious.I might just ask you to rethink your conclusion.Also,If you are interested A fascinating philosophical treatise on the subjuct of eternal reconciliation is done by professor Keith Derose Professor of Philosophy in epistomology at Yale University.He deals with Universalism in a thorough manner as an evangelical who believes in eternal reconciliation.Search Keith Derose:Articles on Universalism!

  9. Thinking Man, The problem for most of the people reading your comment, isn’t that you chose not to read the book. It is the very smug and condecending way in which you communicated to the author and your audience that you wouldn’t read the book. My own comment on her page went something like this: “I am again awestruck by the love of Jesus as it spills from Thinking mans heart and pours into his keyboard. It clearly identifies Thinking mans depth of compassion and his zeal to bless and encourage his Christian community. The obvious respect he exudes combined with the humility and gentleness he shows a fellow Christian writer is such a spirit filled delight.”
    Or something close to that.
    You certainly don’t need to read every book written….and you don’t need to agree with every author. However, it wouldn’t hurt to practice kindness, gentleness, and love….(for Christs sake) or consider “Unthinking Pharisee” as a better blog label. Hope you will “think” this thru and extend an apology. Blessings

  10. To the author:

    You and I have exchanged emails over the last 12-14 hours, in which you have been gracious to me. I know now that my response here on this blog was hurtful to you. I can see now how much better it would have been if I had contacted you and gotten to know you and your purposes better before I wrote this blog post. If I had done that, this post undoubtedly would have come out different than it did, and better, and less hurtful. I am sorry I wrote this and I apologize for going about it the wrong way.

    (I sent this to the author by email, but since I did this in public, a public apology is appropriate.)

  11. To some (not all) commenters here:

    I have deliberated over whether I should respond to you. I agree with you that I made a mistake in the way I wrote this blog post. I do not want to take a defensive posture with respect to what you said about that, for you were right.

    On the other hand, there is something that still seems to need saying.

    I dismissed an unnamed book based on a snippet of information: the author’s choice of how to present it on the back cover. Other than the minimal information that might be inferred from what I said about the author’s choices regarding endorsements, I made no disparaging remarks about the author’s character. I did not identify the author.

    You have not only dismissed me but condemned me as not Christian, not thinking, a Pharisee, and a sarcastically-presented host of other faults, based on a snippet of information: one blog post of the thousands I have written here. You do not know me personally or privately, but you have judged and condemned my character personally and publicly.

    I think you would do well to think about that.

  12. first of all…let me tell you how encouraged I am to see your further communications…

    My first instinct is to say I wasn’t condemning you, just your attitude and response…but having to admit my surprise at your change of attitude…I would therefore have to admit that I ABSOLUTELY DID judge you from this one post…and I should have looked further…or worded my response in a way that made a conversation possible…
    “The author” is really good at that…allowing people to present a difference of opinion…encouraging it…always looking for what she can learn and understand from each situation and person. It’s one of the things I admire about her and am trying to learn to do better…to just stay open, especially when you feel a little stung…
    I should have taken a moment and just said that you had completely “misjudged the book by the cover”…the book and the author…and left it without an attack on you…

    I, too, am sorry for my reaction. Thank you for your continued conversation that encouraged this more productive attitude and dialogue…

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