The Importance of Staying Power

Alison Morris -- September 17th, 2007

I spent much of yesterday pounding out quick reviews of the Fall novels I’ve read so far this year, to add to the coffers of the Fall Review Project assembled each year by the New England Independent Children’s Booksellers Advisory Coucil. What happens is pretty simple: we NEICBA members send in reviews of all the fall list books we’ve read, some wonderful person (this year our president, Elizabeth Bluemle) compiles them all into one lengthy document, and we make that document available to everyone who attends our meeting at the New England Independent Booksellers Association fall trade show and post it on the NEIBA website. This review "database" then becomes a handy tool for all of us to refer to and pass along to our staff, for the purposes of interesting them in reading some of these books and giving them some clue as to what books they might want to recommend to customers and on what grounds.

I stupidly fell down on the job this season (not for the first time) as in most cases I didn’t write even short reviews of the books I’d read within a few days of having finished them. I was generally good about jotting down quick notes while I was reading (excellent use of _____, love the ____, see page ___), but those notes don’t fill in all the blanks that sometimes exist for me a month or two after I’ve closed one book and moved on to subsequent others.

As I sat down yesterday to type up reviews of books I finished weeks or, in a couple cases, months, ago I had the same realization I’ve had countless times before: some books just stay with me SO much better than others. This, in turn, makes some of them much harder to review than others, if you’re typing up your reviews a good while after the fact.

Which brings me to this question: Should "staying power" factor into one’s review of a book? Is a book you can remember in vivid detail months after the fact somehow "better" than a book you thoroughly enjoyed while reading but feel hazy about just a few weeks later?

5 thoughts on “The Importance of Staying Power

  1. carfan00

    This book reminds me of a book I just read. Has anyone read the new Ford book – Ford and the American Dream by Clifton Lambreth,Mary Calia,Melissa Webb and Pat Doyle. This book outline the perils facing the American automobile industry and Ford. It is a great story about what Henry Ford would do today if alive. It is a must read for every car enthusiast or business person. The lesson learn apply to every business in the world regardless of industry. http://www.thefordbook.com

  2. DALE BASYE

    Yes…some books are like Vegas, where they come on strong and dazzle you with lurid neon, then you wake up the next day across town with a Tazmanian Devil tatoo on your butt and only hazy recollections of the night before. Other books are like visiting your grandma on Thanksgiving, only later to realize that it was her last, and you find yourself recalling every detail for the rest of your life.

  3. Mark Sleger

    i agree…in the long run it is staying power that determines whether a book has the potential to become a classic. I also think the books that stay with a person despite time transcend the bounds of mere storytelling – they speak to some universal or personal truth and in the process reveal something. The story that is great when you read it but not very memorable afterwards is just that – a good story, whose purpose is to entertain as opposed to expose.

  4. Jenna Glatzer

    Yes! I just had that same thought/experience when I was helping to judge a writing competition. I was glad I had a couple of weeks to let things “stew,” because there was one book that really stuck with me that I wouldn’t have originally recommended as one of the winners. But I think it means a lot if you’re still thinking about a book after your attention has been pulled in lots of other directions.

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