Here's a hypothetical situation for you:
Let's say that I read a book, love it, and write a review of it on this blog, as I sometimes do. Let's also say that the author of the book reads my review and writes an email to me, as sometimes happens. I'm flattered to hear personally from the author of a book I liked so much, and I am glad he realizes that my review of it was essentially positive, even if I did mention one or two shortcomings.
Then, a few months later, I attend a book fair; say, the Tucson Festival of Books, and the author is presenting there. I go to his lecture, he recognizes me from my blog, we get a chance to chat, and he calls me out on the negative things I said about his book in my (otherwise positive) review. And I get to have the lovely experience of telling an author to his face what I didn't like about his book, and why, and defending my position.
Well, folks, this isn't hypothetical. That's right - it actually happened to me, yesterday.
The book is The Heartless Stone: A Journey Through the World of Diamonds, Deceit, and Desire. I wrote about it back in September, and almost immediately closed the comment section because I felt the subject matter of the book was so volatile and I didn't want anyone to feel like they had to defend themselves (to me personally, anyway). The author is Tom Zoellner, and he presented at the Tucson Festival of Books yesterday (along with fellow author Bill Carter).
In case you didn't already realize what a nerd I am, let me tell you that I was so excited to go to the Festival of Books. Jeremy took some time off from working on his dissertation, which is kind of a big deal, and we even paid someone to watch our kids so we could go to Zoellner's presentation.
Fortunately, neither our effort nor our money was wasted. The discussion on the authors' experiences of being international journalists was riveting, the moderator's mispronunciation of "Bono" notwithstanding (he kept saying it "Bow-no," which was inexplicably hilarious to Jeremy and me). It was even more fascinating because although Zoellner and Carter write within roughly the same genre, they operate and present themselves very differently. You wouldn't guess from hearing him speak that Carter is an accomplished author; with Zoellner, you could guess it almost immediately. The guy used words in casual speech that I'd really only seen written on the page before, like "scurrilous."
Which made it all the more intimidating later on, when I was sheepishly defending my criticism of his book to him, in person. I don't know if Mr. Zoellner's new-found knowledge that the f-bomb offends my Mormon sensibilities will have any effect on his future writings, but at least he knows for sure now how I feel about it.
Here we are. This picture was taken after our chat, which shows that everything was all very amicable.
So there you have it. Posting book reviews on your blog might help guide the reading choices of others, or perhaps even lead you to meet famous authors. Just be sure that you mean what you write, and be prepared to defend it.