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Periodical Profile:  Bookmarks

When I am selecting a book for our nonfiction reading group, I consult critical reviews for several reasons: to see how the book was received when it first came out; to see if it will support a good discussion; and hopefully, to find an interesting back story.  I also use reviews for a point of discussion at the end of the group meetings after everyone has shared their own thoughts and reactions.  Without fail, group members enjoy hearing the critics’ comments and responding to them.  Members often request copies of the reviews to read at home later.

Do you read reviews when you are selecting your next book? Do you like to compare your reaction to a book with a critic’s opinion?  Sometimes critics have conflicting opinions about the strengths and weaknesses of a book, which can leave a prospective reader wondering if he or she should invest time in reading it!  Since you can find reviews in many newspapers, journals, magazines and websites, instead of checking each of these sources on your own, you may want to try Bookmarks magazine, for “everyone who hasn’t read everything.”

This magazine was founded in 2002 by bookworms Jon Phillips and Allison Nelson because as avid readers themselves, they yearned for a comprehensive source that would bring together various reviews.  Phillips admits that he is “obsessed” with reading reviews in order to save himself time and money spent reading a bad book.  He describes the method his staff uses like this:  “Starting Monday morning, the staff at Bookmarks pores over the Sunday book reviews, the week’s new magazines, and the latest news, reading every last bit of fiction, non-fiction, and children’s book coverage. We catalog and rate each new book from each review, looking for consensus, evaluating differences of opinion, and searching for that great unsung book that quietly got one or two enthusiastic reviews. Every two months we publish the results of our research in the New Books Guide portion of Bookmarks—all the ratings, critic quotes, and summaries you need to make the best reading choices.”

Each issue of Bookmarks also includes two articles about prominent, established authors, as well as an interesting topic of their choice featuring a variety of books about it suggested by experts in the field, and lists of readers’ recommendations.

Lovers of reviews will enjoy the easy accessibility of having numerous reviews all in one place and will probably appreciate the REVIEWS of the reviews written by Bookmarks staff.  Sometimes we need to be reminded that book critics can be jaded and take their comments with a grain of salt.  In the end, what matters is if the book will speak to you, not the critic. 

You’ll find Bookmarks in the periodical section.  Happy Reading!

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