Criticism & Features

NBCC Reads

Guest Post from Steve Weinberg: Where Are the Reviewers You Pay Attention To?

By Steve Weinberg

Former NBCC board member Steve Weinberg, who compiles and updates the NBCC Freelancing Guide on a regular basis, weighs in on the next decade in book culture's new question.

While living in Washington, D.C., from 1978-1983, I became addicted to Book World, then its own section of the Washington Post. That occurred pre-Internet. Since late 1983, I've lived in mid-Missouri, but never stopped reading Book World in hard copy, when it arrives at the public library. Book World is no longer printed as a separate section, so I read the reviews scattered throughout the broadsheet section. Occasionally, I've been privileged to publish reviews assigned to me by Book World editors, who have always been intelligent and efficient as they request revisions. Like many other Book World readers, I follow the reviews of Jonathan Yardley–even though (or maybe because) our opinions of some books diverge.

Because I review lots of books for lots of outlets and because I read lots of books as background for the books and magazine features I write, I want to keep up with what's coming as well as what's already published. So, like thousands of others, I read every issue of Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Reviews. I used to write reviews for PW; currently, I review regularly for Kirkus. I'm addicted to both as a consumer.

Unsurprisingly, I subscribe to many (perhaps most) of the book-oriented periodicals: Bookmarks magazine, New York Review of Books, Bookforum, Barnes & Noble Review, Books & Culture, Internet Review of Books, etc., etc., etc.

In addition, I subscribe to numerous magazines in part because of their in-depth reviews–The Nation, New Republic, National Review, Commentary, etc., obviously placing partisan politics aside–even when my limited intellectual capability means I find some of the long reviews difficult to follow.

The online-only book sections of certain Internet magazines attract me–,, The Daily, etc. Laura Miller at always makes me think, and often makes me cheer because she sees through conventional wisdom. (I served with Laura on the NBCC board of directors for a few years, but squandered my opportunity to know her well because I found her so intimidating intellectually. I could say the same about the intellectual awesomeness of many other NBCC directors.)