Thursday, December 15, 2016

Book Matters by Alan Sica

This book is very different from what I had expected. From the subtitle and description of the book, I expected that it would be about the changing nature of books, from print to digital, and what that means to readers and reviewers. That is not what the book is about.

Sica is a sociologist and was the editor of the book review journal owned by the American Sociological Association from 2009 to 2015. He tells of his own experiences at the task, calling for and dealing with reviews of academic works. He also writes about many works specific to the field of sociology. There were a number of books and authors he explored that I had never heard of and would be of interest only to sociologists.

He did have some interesting comments about reading at the beginning of the book. He writes about “...a society which has, for the most part, given up reading for the simpler pleasure of viewing images.” (228/4113) He laments, “the future of serious thought and analysis does not look promising...” (659/4113) He admonishes intellectuals, noting that they have the responsibility “to tell it like it is” in monographs and reviews.

I had thought I would not finish the book but then I read about Sica's experience as a book review editor and the difficulty he had getting people to commit to reviewing a work and then actually producing the review. Once I had opted to review this book, I kept with it. And I did learn some interesting concepts, such as the amount university libraries must pay for subscriptions to journals.

I don't know to whom to recommend this book. Perhaps those interested in reviews of sociology books, other academic books and monographs. Sica writes about how technical reviews have changed over the years. Again, this information is specific to the field of sociology. Those interested in Sica's life work would find this interesting as he tells many stories about his own experiences and work.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

Alan Sica is a professor of sociology and director of the Social Thought Program at Pennsylvania State University. He is the author or editor of several books.

Transaction Publishers, 274 pages. You can find out more about the book here.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

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