The Frenetic Life of a Netgalley Reviewer & Favorite Writers’ Bags

If you read blogs or Goodreads reviews, you often see this odd last line:  “Thank you to Netgalley [and X Publisher] for the advance copy in exchange for an honest review.”

And you may ask, What the heck is Netgalley?  Well, it is a website where critics, bloggers, and consumer reviewers can request e-galleys from publishers.

My favorite new book of the year.

Netgalley is a mixed blessing. I have read the best Netgalley books; I have read the worst   Netgalley books.  The biggest temptation: requesting too many books. I’ve been lucky lately.  Three of my favorite books this year are  from Netgalley: Alice Mattison’s counterculture classic, Conscience (which I posted about here), Laura van den Berg’s surreal The Third Hotel (here), and Pat Barker’s retelling of the Iliad, The Silence of the Girls (here).

But what if you dislike a  book?  Yes, we’re doing it “in exchange for an honest review” (theoretically),  but I only trash books I have paid for!  I put aside The Splintering of the American Mind (a controversial book about identity politics) and Zachary Mason’s Metamorphica (a collection of retold myths) because they “were not for me.”

Since professional reviewers do not indulge in public expressions of gratitude–the reverse is far more likely–I email my thanks  to publishers.  (Yes, I have manners.)  Though it is lovely to get new books, it is unnecessary to write a thank-you note in the actual review.

My rule:  don’t let Negalley take over my life.  I don’t want to be that person who allows Netgalley to dictate my reading. Nope, I’ve got to read classics.

Here’s a typical day in the life of a Netgalley reviewer.

  1. Turn off your phone and finish Bloodmoon, Peter Tremayne’s entertaining new Sister Fidelma mystery, only to discover Negalley had archived the book before the publication date –which means I’m too  late with my review!
  2.  My husband has  a broken collarbone so I suggested he write some consumer reviews.   He reads widely, but he refused:  he wants to read what he wants to read.  ( N.B.  He recommends Richard Powers’s The Overstory, which is on the Booker shortlist.)
  3. One e-book was so  crazily formatted that I gave up: the letters “fi” were inadvertently omitted from  words  so that I had to puzzle out that “rm” meant “firm,” “nd” meant “find,” etc.

And now I think I’ll read a classic, because I need a break.

DO YOU SHOP FOR AUTHORS’ TOTE BAGS?  Here are my favorites.

1  I was tempted by this “I heart Mr. Darcy” bag at Barnes and Noble, but I actually “heart” Captain Wentworth.

Catullus bag

2 Here is Catullus’s popular two-line poem (85).  And here is my  literal translation:  “I hate and I love. You probably ask why I do so./  I do not know, but I feel myself suffer and am tortured.”

3.  I doubt Doris Lessing would appreciate this.

4. This bag shows the title of Robert Heinlein’s 1960s  cult  classic, Stranger in a Strange Land.  Loved this book!

5.  Who doesn’t want this cute Mrs. Dalloway bag?

6,  I can’t resist this Dickens knock-off:  A Tale of Two Kitties

7. I love this Jane Eyre bag.

Do let me know your favorite literary tote bags!