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Wednesday, October 12, 2011 9:22 am
Bookmarks to Bookmark
Posted by: Neil Hollands

Only published every other month, Bookmarks magazine will never rival Booklist or other major review journals for the number of books that it reviews, but for years now, without much fanfare, this magazine has been quietly doing one thing very well: aggregating reviews.

Rather than focus on producing their own reviews, the folks at Bookmarks try to synthesize a collective opinion out of the many reviews published in major sources. For instance, here’s their summary of reviews for Erik Larson’s latest, In the Garden of Beasts:

“An on-the-ground documentary of a society going mad in slow motion” (Chicago Sun-Times), this harrowing and suspenseful story examines the rise of the Nazis through the experiences of a single family. Well known for his meticulous research, Larson draws on letters, diaries, and other primary sources to paint a vivid, richly detailed portrait of this critical era, immersing readers in the electrifying and decadent city of 1930s Berlin, perilously poised on the brink of ruin. Although the Seattle Times was unable to relate to the supposedly lackluster ambassador and his superficial daughter, the Chicago Sun-Times, among others, praised Larson’s deft characterizations. Most agreed with the New York Times that In the Garden of Beasts is “by far [Larson's] best and most enthralling work of novelistic history” to date. For the many Bookmarks fans of Larson’s Devil in the White City, that’s high praise indeed.

On their website, Bookmarks features a list of recent reviews and a list of the books that have been reviewed most often in the last few months. You can jump to recent books that have an aggregated four-star review, make selections by genre, or “power browse” for books on particular themes. They have reading guides for select books that book clubs could use, the full text of select articles from the magazine, and links to reading lists published on the web. You can also subscribe to a free email newsletter of book reviews.

Consider adding Bookmarks to your box of tools in preparing for book group!

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