T Nation

Book Reviews


Who else would like to see T-Nation add a forum dedicated to book/article/study reviews or op-ed pieces. They could be on any subject and not be limited to just training and nutrition literature.

Don't get me wrong, Amazon's book reviews are awesome, considering they are written by completely anonymous, pseudo-critics that use their time away from playing Final Fantasy or Mud to 'contribute.' (Remember, critics are usual people that don't actually have any talent/skill and never did...but somehow magically become qualified to express their opinions on a given subject)

With that said...what do the rest of you think?


You're being awful critical of those critics.


Niiice, point taken.


No need to criticize here.


You, however, are an unusual person, one adequately credentialed to cast these judgments on anonymous strangers. Your PhD in Douche-nozzleology gives you the skills necessary to pick up on nuance and flaws in posts which reveal even the most cleverly disguised troll job. I guess the real question is, do I have talent/skill?


Most writers don't have much in the way of talent or skill either. For every classic, there are thousands and thousands of turds made out of pulp and ink. The 'Romance' genre is a prime example. The vast majority are formulaic tripe that took the writer less than a week to whip out.


That is true, even of the great writers. For every great novel or short story that Dostoyevski wrote, he churned out a lot of mediocre work. Even his mediocre novels have some really great moments, but I wouldn't recommend an 800 page novel to someone for a few good pages.

On the other hand, some of those turds made of pulp and ink have occaisional moments of genious.


Did I hit a nerve?


Second (obviously sarcastic) paragraph aside...does anyone other than myself think that a forum devoted to book reviews would be a nice addition?


This is because something like 55% of all paperback fiction sold is romance. (Nearly 40% of all fiction sold.) So yeah, you'll find a lot of dreck there. Mystery/thriller has the next largest market share, at ~30%. I've read a lot of crap in that genre, too. Some of it bestselling, to my great astonishment.

But nevertheless, that formulaic tripe is finding a readership. I wouldn't read a Harlequin romance or a boilerplate murder mystery, but some people do.

That doesn't make "most writers" talentless hacks, though. Perhaps you need a better system for discerning which books will and will not meet your high standards?


I recommend you check out the "Summer Reading" threads this site has seen. I actually found out about a couple of great reads through those threads. What you have to remember is that you're still in internet-land while surfing this site, so if you've found Amazon.com opinions to be bogus, you probably won't see much difference from this place.


Thanks for the link...and good point to boot.


So I guess there are exceedingly few talented/skilled people in the world these days.


I'd leave out the word exceedingly from your statement.


I'm not sure if a whole forum is needed. "Get a Life" is probably suitable enough.

Do it like they do on Slashdot. Start a thread "Book Review: Title of Book" and write the review as the first post. People interested in the book, or who have read it can comment as usual.

The problem with topical forums is that everyone has his pet interests and you'd eventually have a long list of forums unrelated to bodybuilding/strength training to keep everyone happy. The more forums, the more you dilute the participation.

Maybe if "Get a Life" gets inundated with "Book Review: ..." threads, people will ask en masse for a distinct forum, but until then, I don't really see enough need for it.


Yup. I took home a D+ in high school computer science, but I know that adding a forum will increase bandwidth, which increases cost to run the site. Well, I don't know that, but I think it's correct...maybe. Unless I made that up. Hmmm...I'm starting to see why I was a D student.


You want a book review?

Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson.

Mix one part World War II action adventure, one part World War II code-breaking, one part modern day computer-geek hacking story, and one part modern day international espionage and you have it.

It's almost four novels quite nicely wrapped together. I thought it was wildly entertaining.

My paperback version is over 1100 pages long though, if lengthy books make you squeamish.

Also, I enjoyed the earlier Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter books by Laurell K. Hamilton. They're basically modern-day crime dramas involving vampires and were-beasts. Very engrossing, very entertaining.

I personally enjoyed the earlier books a lot more than the recent ones. The later books have sadly turned into all-but softcore, literary porn.

FWIW, my favorite was Obsidian Butterfly.


It's not really a technical problem. Bandwidth for text messages is negligible and so is DB storage. The limited resource here is members and their available free time.

Let's say you have 1000 participating regular members. If you have 20 forums, then you might have an average of 50 participants in each. If you have 100 forums, then the average goes to 10 each... at one point, you "dilute" your base enough that most forums lose what little participation there is.

Of course, that analysis is very crude. Not everyone will participate in the same number of forums; nor will all forums be equally popular. But it still remains that if I, for example, spent time in "Computers/Video Games" and "Puzzles/Cryptography," then I'd have less time for "Politics" or other forums.

If anything, there are probably too many forums already.


Ohhh...it's really just about the opportunity cost of the members' time, then?