WhatMakesThisBooksoGreatA Book of Essays About Books


By Jo Walton
Tor, $26.99, 448 pages

This volume gathers together some of award-winning author Jo Walton’s columns about books she likes and is rereading. These columns were originally published at Tor.com, one of the largest websites for science fiction and fantasy readers. Walton’s focus is mainly on the foundation novels of science fiction, and on what she likes or, in the words of the title, What Makes This Book So Great. This is a great book for reading in “sips,” the little bits of time while you’re waiting for something else to happen. The individual entries are rarely longer than a few pages, and while sometimes subsequent entries will cover an entire series, they don’t need to be read together. Walton’s voice is incisive but cheerful, and will even make you see another side of books you already know. What Makes This Book So Great is still interesting if you haven’t read the books Walton is talking about, and in fact, would function beautifully as a science fiction primer. All readers, whether they are interested in science fiction or not, will be jealous of Walton’s mentioned reading speed (a few books a week, and sometimes more than one a day!). I can’t recommend this book enough to those interested in science fiction at any level, from new reader to armchair astronaut.

Reviewed by Katie Richards

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