Which reviews do you read?

It’s a puzzle.

When I review a book I’m convinced is both important and unusually well written. what happens? Few people read the review.

Then I post a review of something fun but trivial, and — voila! — lots of readers take it in. Or not. It’s entirely unpredictable.

Here, in descending order of the number of reads, are the ten most popular reviews I’ve posted in the two-and-a-half years since I began this blog:

  1. 99 to 1: How Wealth Inequality Is Wrecking the World and What We Can Do About It, by Chuck Collins
  2. The Pyramid and Four Other Kurt Wallender Mysteries, by Henning Mankell. 
  3. In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin, by Erik Larson
  4. Creative Community Organizing: A Guide for Rabble-Rousers, Activists, and Quiet Lovers of Justice, by Si Kahn
  5. The Self-Made Myth, and the Truth About How Government Helps Individuals and Businesses Succeed, by Brian Miller and Mike Lapham
  6. The Litigators, by John Grisham
  7. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, by Michelle Alexander
  8. The Imperial Cruise: A Secret History of Empire and War, by James Bradley
  9. Social Entrepreneurship: What Everyone Needs to Know, by David Bornstein and Susan Davis
  10. Kill the Messenger: The Media’s Role in the Fate of the World, by Maria Armoudian

Admittedly, only two works of fiction appear on this list of ten books, despite the fact that I read and review about equal numbers of nonfiction and fiction.

As you’re probably aware, from time to time I also construct lists of books by topic or for some other reason. Here are the most-read of those posts, in descending order again:

  1. Social Enterprise: A Resource List
  2. Third World development: A reading list
  3. The 30 best books of 2010-2011
  4. The best books I’ve read so far this year (2012)
  5. Books that helped me understand the world
  6. My 20 all-time favorite science fiction novels
  7. Eight recent books that illuminate the state of affairs in America today

As one of my all-time favorite writers, Kurt Vonnegut, frequently wrote, So it goes.


Filed under FAQs, FAQs & Commentaries

8 responses to “Which reviews do you read?

  1. I look forward to your reviews. They are well written and very thoughtful. i also like both nonfiction and fiction.

  2. Andrew

    Mal, I always appreciate your reviews. You were recommended to me as someone with similar taste in espionage fiction (a genre I’m reading heavily right now), and I was so happy to find we had overlapping nonfiction interests, too – King Leopold’s Ghost, for example.

  3. I’ve noticed that the popularity of my reviews is very random, as well. I also think it’s related to the time of day that I post them.

  4. Betty Taller

    Mal, I read most of the reviews and about one-third of the books, most of the fiction.

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