Aidyrah is a researcher who loves reading everything from literary fiction and nonfiction to historical romance. She rates the books within genre relative to each other, because she believes that what makes a good romance is actually different than what makes a good nonfiction novel (other than expecting a baseline amount of good writing regardless). In the historical romance genre, her favorite authors include Lisa Kleypas and Georgette Heyer, and some of her favorite romance novels are It Happened One Autumn, A Secret Love, and Frederica. For nonfiction, she likes a range of books, from The Last Lecture to Good to Great, The Price of Motherhood and The Death and Life of the Great American School System. In terms of literary fiction some of her favorite authors include Tobias Wolff, Margaret Atwood, and John Steinbeck, and some of her favorite books are Drown, The Interpreter of Maladies, You Are Not a Stranger Here, Empire Falls, The Blind Assassin, and East of Eden.
CleverHandle (former reviewer)
CleverHandle is a psychiatrist who enjoys reading a wide variety of books (though she will leave the romance to Aidyrah and the fantasy to Penguinhegemony, thank you). She especially enjoys non-fiction, literary fiction, and young adult/children’s books (because a good read is a good read!). Her favorite books ever include Audrey Niffeneger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife, Joseph Heller’s Catch-22, Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything, Alistair MacLean’s Where Eagles Dare, and Paul Galico’s The Day The Guinea Pig Talked. Her favorite authors include JK Rowling (duh), Orson Scott Card, Steven Pinker, and Abraham Verghese. She compares books to all other books she’s ever read, not just within genre; for example, The Day The Guinea Pig Talked is one of the best books she’s ever read, not just one of the best children’s books. She considers 5 stars to be an excellent read, 4 stars to be good, 3 stars to be something she’s not sorry she read, 2 stars to be a book with a few redeeming features that could appeal to others, and 1 star or below a waste of time.
Penguinhegemony (former reviewer)
Penguinhegemony’s favorite books include Dark Continent: Europe’s Twentieth Century by Mark Mazower, Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche by Haruki Murakami, The Mechanization of the World Picture: Pythagoras to Newton by E. J. Dijksterhuis, and Rats, Lice and History by Hans Zinsser. His favorite authors are Robert N Charette, Charles Stross, and Terry Pratchett. He rates books according to their success in their chosen genre, intent, and style; he wouldn’t consider a dopey vampire thriller a failure if it didn’t incorporate thought-provoking hard science fiction elements, just as he wouldn’t fault a hard science fiction book dealing with quantum mechanics a failure if it didn’t incorporate dopey vampire thriller elements.
Halfaword (aka Leigh Rastivo) is a professional Proposal Manager who writes just about everything – proposals, essays, fiction, reviews, poetry, speeches, grants, web-content, articles, marketing copy, and the occasional rant. She is, however, more finicky about what she will read (no romance, no fantasy). Leigh’s favorite genres: literary fiction, poetry, and essays. As a Voting Member of the National Book Critics Circle (NBCC), Leigh casts ballots for her favorite books every year, but feels ashamed of it, like she’s choosing one comrade over another. On this year’s list: Pearlman’s Binocular Vision and Erdrich’s The Round House. All time favorites include Atwood’s The Blind Assassin, Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians and Roth’s American Pastoral.
Miss_Rhubarb works in public health during the day and reads just about anything in her spare time. Favorite authors include Ann Patchett, Tamora Pierce, Richard Preston, Lois McMaster Bujold, and Jaqueline Winspear. Favorite genres include just about all of them. At any given time, Miss_Rhubarb is usually reading at least one non-fiction book (current favorite include books about diseases and epidemics), a “brain candy” pick (romance or thriller), and a more literary selection ranging from mystery to historical fiction to literary fiction to fantasy. Books that tend to get high marks have one or all of the following: interesting/well developed characters, an intriguing question, a compelling story, and/or a unique narrative voice. Reading is an adventure so she’ll try reading anything at least once.