So Many Books…

It’s impossible stay on top of all the books that are published, even just the popular ones; that’s why we’re always on the lookout for shortcuts. Newsweek and the Daily Beast both have columns that work as handy RA cheat sheets.

Newsweek gets right to the point with the title of their regular feature, “We Read it [So You Don’t Have To].” The editors recently decided to create a book club around it, complete with Twitter and Facebook pages as well as its own archive on the Newsweek site. Currently, it includes 7 nonfiction titles, ranging from the current crop of political scandal books (The Politician by Andrew Young, Staying True by Jenny Sanford and The Death of American Virtue by Ken Gormley) to the sleeper success, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Click on each title and you’ll get a brief annotation, “Buzz Rating” and a critique to make your own.

The Daily Beast has been running a weekly column with a similar thrust, “Do I Have to Read…?” The columnist, “William Boot,” promises,

This isn’t your typical book-review column. I’m reading the bestsellers: the Grishams, the Cornwells, the Higgins Clarks. Moreover, I’ll render the kind of blunt verdict you get when reading about toasters in Consumer Reports… If you want a different approach, try The New York Review of Books.

Who is William Boot? Hard to know, since Boot is a pseudonymn (presumably to avoid hate mail from outraged publishers, agents and authors — when Boot hates a book, he sounds like Virginia Kirkus having a bad day), taken from the protagonist in Evelyn Waugh’s novel, Scoop (the Daily Beast itself takes its name from the fictional newspaper in that book).

Evelyn Waugh
Retail Price: $14.99
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Back Bay Books – (1999-09)
ISBN / EAN: 0316926108 / 9780316926102

Boot considers only about 38 of James Patterson’s I, Alex Cross readable. On the other hand, of the 279 pages of Anne Tyler’s Noah’s Compass, he recommends 285 of them (he went back and reread a section which he enjoyed the second time around).

He may be more of a populist than the crowd at the New York Review of Books, but not by much.

This week, Boot steps outside his brief and covers a book that’s not a current bestseller, Dick Francis’ Comeback.

The full list of titles Boot has considered is available here.

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