Reading and reviewing books side-by-side offers a way of increasing the number of perspectives and experiences one can weave together. The reading process itself is an interactive one. At a minimum it includes the author’s voice and values, reader’s values and experiences, and other texts both reader and writer have woven into their lives. Two books together, in interaction with the reader, greatly increase the complexity of the reading process.
I recently reviewed both the books displayed above (click to find them on Amazon) for Christian Century magazine (link takes you to the review). Doing so provided an opportunity to remember my own life as a teaching life. Hence, I started the review with a personal anecdote and ended it with an application from my own life.
The decision to include a bit of self into the review reflects my belief that no reading can be totally objective and that transparent subjectivity can be a good thing–if done with respect and love for the author.
What do you think of the practice of injecting a little piece of the reviewer’s own life into the review of another book? I did the same thing at the beginning of my review of Mennonite in a Little Black Dress. Is this helpful? Does it seem intrusive? I can imagine some people might view it as arrogant or solipsistic–the same way some critics view the memoir genre itself. I’d love your opinion on this matter, since I have reviewed a lot of memoirs here and hope to continue. Please help me become a better reviewer by reflecting on what you appreciate–or not –in reviews as you read them.