Most of my library career was spent on the East Coast, usually surrounded by readers of the New York Times, in particular, its Book Review. I was frequently influenced to purchase a book for my school library (Pre-school through Grade 5) which ended up a shelf sitter (i.e. never loved by the kids as much as it was loved by the reviewer). This was more often the case with picture books than with books for older kids.
But as a grown-up reader, I read their reviews just for sheer pleasure of the prose. Yes, I frequently find a book there I've never heard of and do read and adore (Case in point, Kate Atkinson's mysteries).
But what better description of Ian McEwan's new book SOLAR than today's review by Walter Kirn who calls it "a book so good-- so ingeniously designed, irreproachably high-minded and skillfully brought off-- that it's actually quite bad... It's impressive to behold but something of a virtuous pain to read." Later in the review he calls the book "a buttery, rich sauce ladled onto overcooked, dry meat."
But I do not need to read a virtuous pain of a book.
I've read another mediocre review of this book so even though I adored Ian McEwan's Atonement and kind of liked a couple of others, I'll wait for somebody to dispute Mr. Kirn's opinion before adding it to my To Read list. Because that review is just so dang fun to read, I have to trust it.
Related posts: The New York Times Book Review
Kate Atkinson, My New Favorite Series