Sample Book Review FormatReview format sample book
To defend the letter of book reviewing
In retrospect on the working methods of Derrida and his contemporary colleagues, one thing is particularly striking: the outstanding importance of book review. The review of a book was not a peripheral exercise for these hard-hit characters; it was not something that was done in the seldom cases that a loophole in the program could allow such pleasure.
Rather, the book review was a key element in the practical application of creating, disseminating and debating the body of information. This is not a disclosure of course, but to read this book recalls the possible force and meaning of the book review. It is something we may be neglecting in the midst of the tireless tempo of today's university world.
Derrida and his environment saw book review as the mechanisms by which they could act and act, the means by which they reached the boundaries of knowing where debate was made and where literature was not selected because of its explicite or even deferred qualities and value.
Review was also the source of new idea and new thought. These criticisms can also have led to an exaggeration, a points game or even to a senseless argument. Nevertheless, the book review was seen as a room in which new insights could arise from this dialectical exchange and from the section and direction of the discussion.
It was never just a review; it was also a place of discussion that could be used to evoke new insight or to help us find answers to issues that still needed to be resolved. All in all, the book review was an appreciated and cultivated discussion tool. We have a major issue today: book discussions have become a much more limited and perhaps underestimated work.
Instead of being at the center of the discipline, they are seen as a little luxury: an indiscriminate abuse of one' s readings, and then to write something that has no quantifiable value. Consequently, the practise of reviewing a book is often and comprehensibly seen as a far-reaching drain; a wastage of valuable work; a diversion from the actual task of making inventive inputs to our understanding; perhaps an ineffectiveness.
Firstly, book discussions establish a dialog between scientists. It offers reflexion, it asks question, it challenges idea and it informs reader, author and even the reviewer himself. Reviewing a book is an innate communal exercise in which we think and exchange our responses to the important works of the moment.
Secondly, a book review can be part of the foundation from which the initial wisdom and insight can thrive. They are therefore important in themselves and, if we remove them from the research agendas, they can also undermine or restrict the opportunities to form our own thoughts and notions.
It' s natural that often you decide not to do book review. For a few years I worked as an editorial journalist: the answers I got to the Commission's e-mails often made this pressure clear. They wanted to check it often, but didn't have the feeling that they could install it.
Discussions of books contradict the rationale of research networks. It' s difficult to find a place for them in the inexorable currents of the university. However, I would suggest that if this pressure means giving up the book review, we could damage the bases from which our information comes and the community-building qualities of the debates they are affording themselves.
We defend the book review, we defend the discussion and the dialog and we oppose our discipline, which turns into rooms of monological chakophony and speaks without answer. Instead, the letter of book reviewing must be proactively protected if it is not to become a neglected artifact of a particular think.
Reviewing books can have a role in what a meeting has called an "accelerated academy", but only if we jointly determine that they are of value and that we must try to find for them. Recently, in a work for a compilation about The Craft of Knowledge, Les Back proposed that literacy is "society in thought".
This book review is an indication of this comradeship, but also an indication of our comradeship with our colleagues. That is why, along with the others I have proposed here, I think we must vigorously advocate the letter of book review. Maybe we should consider book reviewing as a very small kind of resistance: a place where we express our interest in the value of knowing, debating and dialog; a place where we put a concept of group knowing before the pressures for individualized contribution.
Book review gives us the chance to show that we appreciate the things that might otherwise be forgotten in the logics of the system that determines our research. In fact, we can say that the defence of the book review could enrich the other facets of our work anyway.
Its new book Metric Power will be released in 2016. You can find the first section of his book Punk Society here.