Exciting news from the literary world (if you're as big of a Zadie Smith fan as I am): the critically lauded, award-winning writer will be taking over the "New Books" column in Harpers magazine beginning in March 2011. I think Smith is a wonderful writer--her debut novel White Teeth is one of my Favorite Books Ever and I found On Beauty to be similarly engrossing. I am even more excited about her upcoming book reviewer gig after reading her thoughts on the role of the reviewer and the art of reading:
“I think a good book review is a place to meet a book on its own terms, not as an ideological vehicle or an academic plaything. Often people think of writing as primary and reading as the lesser art; in my life it's the other way around. When I write about books I’m trying to honor reading as a creative act: as far as I’m concerned the job is not simply to describe an end product but to delineate a process, an intimate experience with a book which the general reader understands just as well as the professional critic.”
Do book reviews influence your decision to read (or not read) a book, or do you find word of mouth more persuasive?