In a universe of texters, bloggers, tweeters, Facebookers, would-be poets, fan fiction fanatics, and struggling writers, the world needs, above all, passionate readers. Samuel Johnson called these folks ”the common reader,” and he believed the life of literature depends on them, “for by the common sense of readers, uncorrupted by literary prejudices, after all the refinements of subtilty and the dogmatism of learning, must be finally decided all claim to poetical honours.”
Book Snob, a blogger a friend pointed out to me, is such a reader incarnate. She describes herself as ”a 25 year old book loving, tea drinking, quilt making, cake eating, itchy feet possessing Londoner, currently transplanted to New York City, with which I am enchanted more and more every day.” Although it appears from internal evidence in a recent post that the New York year is about to end for Book Snob, I suspect her effusive, highly personal reviews of books in her Reading America project will continue.
Try her review of Marilynne Robinson’s novel Gilead for a sample of her style. This is a reader who confesses, “I hate writing negative reviews.” As she deaccessions her book collection for a return to England, Book Snob writes:
Really, as long as I have my entire works of Jane Austen, my complete edition of Shakespeare (for reference purposes), Jane Eyre and Villette, The Secret Garden, A Little Princess, Anne of Green Gables, Little Women, my Mitford collection, my Dorothy Whipples, my Elizabeth von Arnims, my Margaret Atwoods, my Willa Cathers, Illyrian Spring, The Hours, Doctor Zhivago, my collection of vintage copies of all four volumes of The Diary of a Provincial Lady, my Richard Yates’, my Persephones, and a few other individual books I know I will want to hang onto for sentimental reasons, I don’t need to own any other books unless I find another favourite author in the meantime.
The Book Snob blog’s tag line is: “Book reviews for the discerning reader.” And Book Snob is certainly a discerning reader, even though she’s anything but a snob.