Why review books? At The Awl, Jane Hu takes a historical approach to answering that question.
Quoting writers from Alexander Pope to Jonathan Franzen, Hu argues that the apparently ever-progressing “death” of the book review is perhaps a more nuanced process than it first appears:
“Perhaps a large problem in the decline of good criticism is that readers no longer know how, or where, to find critics, and, more importantly, how to define what makes it Good.”
Hu’s essay is in some aspects a continuation of the narrative established in Elizabeth Gumport’s 2011 essay “Against Reviews” for N+1, an impassioned argument for a complete rethinking of the form and its uses.