Book Reviews as Crucial Knowledge

[Sorry for the blog silence of late. What little time and energy I've had left for blogging has gone into some discussions at the Generous Orthodoxy "Think Tank."]
I am a passionate devotee of book reviews: I commit to writing quite a few of them, and I make a point of trying to consume them regularly--both the sorts of reviews one finds in the Atlantic and Harper's, as well as the more scholarly review in academic journals. [For the latter, the "table of contents alert services" that many academic journals provide are a godsend. See the Modern Theology site for an example, and click on "Sign-up for e-tocs."]

I think book reviews are a crucial arena for discourse, for both "public" intellectuals and the ivory halls of academe. Sometimes they are pointers, bringing to our attention works that we might not otherwise have encounters; at other times, they provide an arena for debate and provide an opportunity to "listen in" as leading thinkers hash out their commonalities and differences. And there's nothing an author likes more than a good book review (where "good" doesn't just mean praise and adulation, but rather someone who really takes your arguments seriously, thinks along with you, and then takes you places you didn't go in the book).

One rich and free resource that I highly recommend is Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews. A relatively new online review, the editors manage to get some of the best people in philosophy to provide very extensive reviews of works across a range of subdisciplines and even across the disciplines. Sign-up to receive new reviews by email and you'll receive several treasures weekly and browse through the Archives to find much more.

Today I received a review of a fascinating book I hadn't come across: Amy Mullins' Reconceiving Pregnancy and Childcare. This is one of the briefer NDPR reviews, but has got me to put this book on my wish list.