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?