Teaching Shakespeare!

A Folger Education Blog

How Blogs Chang Everything

~by Carol Kelly

What makes a good blog entry? An interesting subject? Controversial subject matter? A radical viewpoint? Or is it just witnessing the powerful influence a blog can exert?

In preparing a blog entry in response to How Shakespeare Changed Everything, by Stephen Marche I found a series of fascinating blog entries in response to an online review that appeared to be almost as long as and more interesting than the book itself! I have rarely seen such an entertaining series of exchanges.

Many of those responding, immediately accepted the reviewer’s opinion that the book was shallow, indulged in generalizations and was poorly written. Many appreciated the reviewer saving them the trouble of reading it and immediately put it to the bottom of their “To read” pile. Wow that is wielding some power!!! Others said they enjoyed reading the review, which I have to admit was entertaining and those that had read the book for themselves enjoyed sharing bits that they hated too. Poor Stephen Marche!

However there is no such thing as bad publicity and reading a bad  review can in fact makes the book itself irresistible! After having had his book torn apart online, I felt a bit sorry for Stephen Marche and considered that it would be a disservice not to at least read some of the book and I also found other reviews that offered a more balanced perspective. But I am left wondering  how many people are now using book blogs to shape their reading choices and do those writing them realize the power they wield?

See the scathing review for yourself

Carol Kelly is the Festivals and Workshops Coordinator of the Folger Education Division.


  • Hi Carol! I read quite a few book blogs and follow reviews on Goodreads (tends to be more critical than Amazon). I can say that I have picked up books because reviewers gushed about them, and I have decided not to read something because a reviewer was highly critical, especially if several reviewers are highly critical. I left the link to my own book blog in the URL field.

  • Hi, Carol~ I don’t have “Shakespeare Changed Everything” on my TBR list but am now very curious about it and would love to see your review of the book. I tend to look at book recommendations in several places: “The New Yorker,” Goodreads, Amazon, book blogs, Twitter, and ECN. My goodread friends tend to be English teachers, so they wield a great deal of influence on my choices. I’m trying to read more YA lit, so I need recommendations from my PLN. I’ve been reviewing YA lit and some other books on my book blog and professional lit on my other blog. I think it’s important to approach all works from a respectful position; after all, the writer’s have done something I haven’t, and that’s publish a book. BTW, I wrote a post about Michael Witmore’s “Landscapes of the Passing Strange” on my blog.

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