Those of us who truly love reading books usually harbor a subset of love for reading thoughtful book reviews. But tidy blurbs are largely replacing “sink-into-able” reviews, which is precisely why Paul Constant launched the Seattle Review of Books (seattlereviewofbooks.com) in July.
The former books editor for The Stranger joined forces with local novelist and UX designer Martin McClellan to create a new online source for substantial book reviews, based in what Constant calls the greatest book city in the U.S.
“There’s something special going on here,” he says, “and it needs to be recorded.”
Accordingly, the site will publish two new reviews (and one poem!) per week, plus author interviews, a bookstore of the month, literary news and events, and blog entries (such as Constant’s debate over whether to read Jonathan Franzen’s new novel). Books covered include new and older titles, by writers from the Northwest and beyond. And while the founders are Caucasian males, “This is not just the usual white dudes talking about books,” Constant says. They are committed to diversity both in freelance reviewers and the authors they review; plans include hiring an ombudsman to conduct an annual diversity report.
Perhaps the best news for book lovers: Reviews are a minimum of 500 words long. “When you’re trying to make a beautiful piece of writing that engages with another beautiful piece of writing, you need some room,” Constant says. “We want readers to get lost in the reading experience.”