It’s no secret that i enjoy reading. And reviewing. I enjoy doing both because the first keeps me informed and the second allows me to provide other potential readers my take on various scholarly works.
I’m ashamed of neither. Book reviews are an important, I would say critical aspect of academic work. Bultmann reviewed books regularly and so did von Rad. Those two, my academic mentors, felt it was an important task and so do I.
Recently I have been denigrated by a reader who implied that I only write glowing reviews so I can receive other books from other publishers- and that as a clear attempt at intimidation. This is a scandalous and insulting insinuation and betrays an utter and unforgivable attitude of ignorance concerning my work. If I read a book, I tell the truth about it as I see it. I don’t soft pedal reviews any more than I soft pedal social commentary or theological observations. It’s not who I am.
Truth told, I have been refused books by publishers who have been the recipient of negative reviews. Some publishers don’t like it when you speak ill of (and thus undermine the sales of) their volumes. Other publishers, and in my experience the majority of the best ones, are interested in hearing whether or not their books are worthwhile and are happy with whatever review they are sent because they recognize that various volumes are not everyone’s ‘cup of tea’.
Nonetheless, I shan’t sit by silently whilst being demonized simply because the books I review tend to be pretty darned good ones. I am a sympathetic reader. If an author doesn’t sin egregiously against the truth, I follow their argumentation to the very end to see if there is something to be learned. I read every page. Sometimes twice. Sometimes thrice. I don’t take shortcuts and I refuse to pander.
If you think otherwise, or imagine, for some weird reason, that I am dishonest as a reviewer, as a scholar, as a person, I invite you to absent yourself forever from this little corner of the internet. Good riddance to you, and don’t let the door hit you where the Good Lord split you.
As to the remainder- I can promise you now as I have always done that when you see a review here- whether brief or lengthy- you’re getting my honest take on it without regard for consequences.
After all, ask yourself, do I really seem to be the type of person who has an eye to negative or potentially negative consequences for anything I say or write? Do I?