A feature in the Ladies Home Journal: “Fifteen Second Book Reviews.” (Hey, I was at the doctor’s office. It was LHJ or Fishing Weekly.)
Fifteen-second book reviews. Is that all a book is worth? Fifteen seconds? Why include book reviews at all? Why not just say, we think you’re too dumb to read.
I know the deal. Today’s popular magazines have one or two long stories, a bunch of quirky short copy, and lots of tidbits. The trendy design involves pages broken into blocks of color, and editors need copy to fill those boxes. Like makeup tips. Kim Kardashian never leaves the house without Cover Girl Lash-Building Mascara! Because we’re supposed to believe Kim spends $2.99 on drugstore make up. Or diet tips. Madonna kicks those chocolate cravings with kale!
But books in 15 seconds … That’s not enough time to tie your shoes, to blow your nose, to find the expiration date on yogurt.
Fifteen seconds. The amazing essayist Diana Joseph has a book title that can’t be read in 15 seconds: I’m Sorry You Feel That Way: The Astonishing but True Story of a Daughter, Sister, Slut, Wife, Mother, and Friend to Man and Dog. Buy it anyway. It’s hilarious and poignant.
Luckily, my middle-grade novel, The Graham Cracker Plot, can be described in 15 seconds: Daisy and her sometimes friend Graham plot to break her father out of prison. But can it be reviewed with any insight in 15 seconds?
What about dense, classic literature? What about complex modern novels? What about challenging nonfiction?
The LHJ version:
East of Eden by John Steinbeck, a dead guy. Kinda long but pretty darn good.
The Corrections by the guy who dissed Oprah. Also long but pretty darn good.
The Graham Cracker Plot by someone new. Kinda short. Might be for kids. But pretty darn —
Damn. They ran out of seconds.