Two blogs that I regularly visit have mentioned an article in the New York Times about book reviews moving from newspapers to blogs. Here is the full article, if you are interested. Both bloggers are authors who feel somehow dissed by the New York Times. Here's what Joshilyn said about it: ... because to say, as the NYT did, that BOOK REVIEWS have moved to BLOGS alone is to say that reading is for well off people, a middle class pastime, and only those of us with who have computers in our homes and at our nice office jobs are READERS. You, little poor kids, go rob something, reading is for Muffy and Buffy, not you. Wait ... What?! I'm sorry Joshilyn, you're incredibly funny and occasionally poignant, but to suggest that the NEW YORK TIMES influences poor kids to read their books so they can grow up big and strong is, in my opinion, wrong.
The internet has become a part of most of our daily lives. If this guy can keep up his blog by accessing the public library, you can be certain that the "poor kids" Joshilyn is referencing are also spending their after school hours in libraries doing the same. Also, can I make a confession? Most of my favorite books and poets were at one time assigned to me by a teacher. Those that were not were recommended by Oprah or a friend. A few might have come from my mother. One came from the Today show. Every now and then, I'll pick up an unknown book with a good cover and love it. But never once has the New York Times influenced my decision on what books to read or buy. I guess the argument could be made that the teachers are reading the reviews that are influencing their syllabus choices, but this seems like a long way for information to travel to get to the hands of working-class book lovers. Trickle down literacy, we'll call it. If you want kids to eat their veggies and grow up to go to Harvard and write books that can be sold on Amazon.com, encourage their librarians and English teachers and 101 professors to read - and buy - your book. Or, put the information on the internet, where it is more likely to be accessed by the general public. And leave Muffy and Buffy alone. They're trying to finish today's issue of the Times.