Jan 13 2011 4:21pm

500 posts by me right here on

500 Jo Walton posts!This is my five hundredth post for It’s quite amazing really—500 posts, of at least a thousand words each and some of them considerably longer, written over a period of two and  half years adding up to a whole lot of words about what I’ve been re-reading.

Before the site started, Patrick Nielsen Hayden asked me to write here about what I was re-reading. He said I didn’t have to review, but rather to “say smart things about books that nobody else has thought about for ages”. And that’s what I’ve been trying to do all this time. Sometimes I’m writing about classics, like Ursula Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness, and sometimes I’m writing about cult classics like R.A. MacAvoy’s Tea With the Black Dragon and sometimes I’m writing about minor books that almost everybody has forgotten about but me like C.J. Cherryh’s Serpent’s Reach. Sometimes I’m even writing about things that aren’t science fiction and fantasy at all, like Dorothy Sayers’s Gaudy Night and Georgette Heyer’s A Civil Contract or Two Books About Nuns. Sometimes I’ve asked questions like Do You Skim and What Kind of Series Do You Like?

Because I’m writing about books I already like (barring occasional shocks from the Suck Fairy) the question I usually ask when I come to writing about a book is “What makes this book so great?” It’s been a lot of fun getting responses to my reading—noting my own responses to write about them, and also getting to talk to other people who have read the book and love it or, sometimes, hate it. Best of all is when my egoGoogle tells me that somebody has read a book because I read it first. “I read this because of Jo Walton at” they say, or “I didn’t like this as much as Jo Walton but...” It’s very gratifying when people do this. I also love it when people comment here a year after saying they’ve read the book now and...

I’ve also found out a lot. I’m still horrified how many of you skim when reading for pleasure. And I’ve come up with new theories about fantasy and origin stories and SF reading protocols and it’s great to have a place where I can come out with this kind of thing and get a thoughtful response. The comment threads here are generally great—probably the very best was when I did the Bujold re-read last year, that was just amazing. It has made me read in some ways more consciously—if I feel like reading something I pick it up, but if I’m not sure what I want to read I sometimes think in terms of whether I’ve been doing mostly science fiction or fantasy lately and that kind of thing. I’m also probably the only person who feels like I’m goofing off when I read new books and non fiction.

I’m going to keep going, I’m not bored yet, and you don’t seem to be bored yet. But I thought I’d take the opportunity of this five hundredth post to look back on what I’ve done so far—and also to announce that sooner or later when we get it into shape there’s going to be an actual book of some of these pieces, with the title What Makes This Book So Great.

Now there’s very little reason for you to buy it, as they’re all also going to stay online right here, and with their hyperlinks and comment threads, and besides, you’ve read them already. (You wouldn’t want to re-read a series of posts about re-reading, that would be too meta.) But some people do like hard copies—I do anyway—and other people might not have seen them the first time or might have missed some and want a permanent record. Also, I can imagine it being a useful resource for librarians...except that they can google just like anyone else. (You know, there’s a reason I don’t work in marketing.) But whether or not it’ll be useful to anyone, it’s great to think that people think these pieces are worth collecting.

Jo Walton is a science fiction and fantasy writer. She’s published two poetry collections and eight novels, most recently Lifelode. She has a ninth novel Among Others (coming out next Tuesday, I’m so excited!), and if you liked this post you will like it. She reads a lot, and blogs about it here regularly. She comes from Wales but lives in Montreal where the food and books are more varied.

1. lampwick
Thank you for these reviews. You've given me a bunch of ideas about what to read next -- every time I go into a used bookstore I look for Du Maurier's Scapegoat. Yeah, I know it's in the library, but this way is more fun.
2. Mike G.
"She has a ninth novel coming out next Tuesday, I’m so excited Among Others, and if you liked this post you will like it."

Sneaky :)

I've already wish-listed it at Amazon - once I can get a Kindle sample, I'm sure the rest of it will get bought quickly...
3. AndrewN
I enjoy your posts, Jo. And we seem to like an awful lot of the same books, which encourages me to read yours, so 'Lifelode' is now on my TBR pile.

Keep posting! :)
Joe Sherry
4. jsherry
There's a number of books and authors I've discovered and read from your posts, Jo - from Steven Brust to C.J. Cherryh, Molly Gloss to Raphael Carter. And others.
So, thank you.
Ursula L
5. Ursula
A paper copy of your collected works here would be worth it if it had a really good index system. Google is good, but it doesn't necessarily make it easy to see the way in which your reread discussions connect different ideas, works and authors. A bound-in CD (similar to what Baen does) with an e-book version, with the indexing and connection nicely hyperlinked, could be as addictive as TV-Tropes.
I've always wondered how this woman finds the time to read and re-read so many books and write so good posts about them. She is also a fiction writer!
In French they say "chapeau"
We in Spanish say "Me quito el sombrero".
What a lady!
J Wilson
7. bluestraggler
I also wonder how you get so much read. Amazing. I've really enjoyed your posts and series here. Keep it up!
Dave Bush
8. davebush
I'd just like to say thanks for all your posts.

One of the minor highlights of my day is when my RSS reader has a new post by Jo Walton in it.
Claire de Trafford
9. Booksnhorses
Thanks Jo. I love reading your reviews; although I don't always agree. I've certainly discovered new books thanks to you (Aubrey/Maturin to name one and watched the film because of you and even liked Mr Crowe in it). And, of course, I've discovered your books - looking forward to Among Others.
10. DavidA1
Thank you for this series of posts. I've learned a lot and enjoyed your perspective, and your focus on the pleasures of reading, immensely. You are so even-handed in your reviews, celebrating the good things but calling out and naming the flaws when warranted. The re-reads have introduced me to books I didn't know and illuminated what's good about books I do know. Your broader commentaries, like "SF protocols," often have me thinking, "Sure, that's just what I think, too, except I didn't know it until now."

I am also looking forward to Among Others. I don't understand how you are able to read so many books week in and week out WITHOUT skimming, but I'm glad you do. Please keep it up.

I wish I knew what you thought of Man in the High Castle -- only Philip K. Dick book I like -- but I guess it is not to be.

[da ve]
11. slickhop
Your posts are my favorite, Jo! Please keep them up. I find myself adding so many of them to my list ....
Sylvia Sotomayor
12. terjemar
I don't tend to comment much, but like @8 davebush, I, too, am always delighted to see one of your posts in my rss reader. Thank you for your posts.
13. Fenric25
Add me to the list of people who've also come to look forward to your posts. To be honest, had never heard of you or your works before, but I have found ytour reviews to often be engaging, intriguing and insightful and have lead to me finding a few new books to read and looking at some others from a different POV-next time I'm at the library, I'm going to check and see what Jo Walton works are available (alongside with the last couple books of the Dresden Files, they're really addictive...) Here's to another 500 posts :) !

Also, have to say, I would definitely look forward to a hard-cover copy of many of your posts, as I don't always manage to catch them and I tend to try avoid archive binging to keep my sanity intact...
William Uniac
15. Billiac
I will also join in the love-in. I enjoy your posts, and tend to skim the front page looking for them. If you felt like giving us your thoughts on the non-fiction and new fiction you slack off with, I don't think anyone here would mind.
Benjamin Safford
16. benjamins
Your rereads are definitely my favorite thing on I don't always agree with you, of course, but I love seeing what you have to say about everything. Your rereads have expanded my horizons and led me to new favorites. Thanks for everything, and keep up the amazing work!
Other Alias
17. ghostcrab311
Gratz on 500!

Other blogs come and go, but this one has stayed in my feed ever since I came across it. I enjoy your reviews, Jo, and my to read list crossed the threshold into fantasy a while ago because of them. :D
18. PhoenixFalls
Did you say HARD COPY?!?

Great, another thing to hyperventilate over. . .

LOVE your posts, eagerly awaiting Among Others and, now, What Makes This Book So Great. :)
john mullen
19. johntheirishmongol
Now if I can only figure out how to load up all your posts on my new kindle.

Don't always agree with you but I enjoy your posts, and someday I will find your books. As well as you write I am sure I will enjoy them.
Joe Romano
20. Drunes
Like everyone else here, I look forward to your new posts, Jo, as well as your ongoing comments during the discussions of those posts. My TBR list has grown exponentially since I've started reading your posts, too. Although it's difficult to keep up -- the list is starting to become endless -- there's always skimming, isn't there? Just kidding, of course!
James Goetsch
21. Jedikalos
I have enjoyed reading your posts, and always look forward to a new one. You have also led me to some delightful books I did not know about, and stirred up a lot of fond memories of books I have loved. Thanks.
22. seth e.
I don't comment here often, and not at all lately, but when shows up in my rss feed doohickey, these re-reads are what make me click over and read the whole thing. There are a lot of lovely and interesting thoughts happening around here.
p l
23. p-l
Thank you, Jo! You're the reason I come to
Bob Blough
24. Bob
I appreciate all your posts here. They are obviously written by someone who loves SF and Fantasy. So do I. You make me think about books I have read and those I haven't and have become only the third reviewer (after Gary Wolfe and Cheryl Morgan) who I trust has the same taste in books that I do. So I have gotten books on your recommendation. I just read "Wild Life" (loved it) and have "In the Company of Others" and "The Fortunate Fall" on my to-be-read shelf. Your take on Delany and Simak and Cherryh and others of my favorite authors brings back wonderful memories.
In other words, you are like a good friend who sits with me over a cup of coffee and we discuss things we both love. Thank you.

Michael Green
25. greenazoth
There's a lot of good stuff on, but your posts are far and away my favorite.

For whatever reason, your work here reminds me of Damon Knight's reviews; not in tone, of course, but in intelligence and thoughtfulness.

Thank you.
Alice Arneson
26. Wetlandernw
Jo - on the way home tonight I heard a local show on my NPR station, where this year's Library Journal "Librarian of the Year" (Nancy Pearl, who is local and frequently comes on to chat about books & stuff in general) was talking with the host. Turns out yesterday was her birthday and she spent the whole day reading Among Others. (Must have gotten an ARC!) She loved it, and highly recommended it. When the host asked what it was about, she started to try to tell him, but got lost in the fun of all the books mentioned in the book and finally gave up and said "it's just a great read and if I say any more I'm going to spoil it for someone." Or something to that effect. Anyway, it was fun, and this post was a great coincidental opportunity to share. Congrats on the new book - sounds like fun and I'm looking forward to reading it!
27. Magpieblog
I doubt I'd come to anywhere near as often if it weren't for your posts. Not only do you give me new books to read, but you get me to think in new ways about books I read years ago.

Thank you!
Tom Gittings
28. pintail
Are Jo's columns eligible for a Higo nomination - Best Related Work?
Heather Jones
29. JourneywomanJones
Always enjoy reading your posts! Keep up the amazing work.
Jo Walton
32. bluejo
Thank you, everybody.

I have the time to read because I sip rather than gulp and I do not have a TV. Reading is what I do. I would read this much even if I wasn't being paid to write about it. This is normal for me.
33. OtterB
Joining the festivities - happy 500th, and wishing you (and us) many more.
34. a-j
Congratulations and thanks again for introducing me to The Prisoner of Zenda, reading that completely turned around a dreary wet Saturday.
Don't always agree with you, but always enjoy reading you.
Rob Munnelly
35. RobMRobM
Congrats as well. Really loved the Bujold and the A-Z series in particular. Awesome achievements all.

Stephanie Leary
36. sleary
Your posts are the reason I come here, and I've discovered a number of authors through them -- Kate Ross and Madeline Robins among my favorites. Thank you.
Evan Leatherwood
37. ELeatherwood
Keep it up, Jo! You're the reason I keep reading this site!
Declan Ryan
38. decco999
I want to record my thanks, also, for the superb reviews that you have given to us, and the honest feedback that you provide every now and again. I wish I could read half as fast as you and keep up with your recommendations! I hope you reach the 5000 post mark also: you have a very loyal audience to entertain and educate.
Clifton Royston
39. CliftonR
Happy 500th, and as others have said upthread, you're the main reason I read! I have to keep poking in to see what you've written about lately.
40. Kvon
I got to read an advance copy of Among Others, and I loved the echo effect between your character commenting on books, and your columns. Thanks for all of your words.
amie friedrich
42. moonshower
Thank you so much for these reviews. Like many others, they have given me so many enjoyable reading experiences I never would have found on my own. I love reading the reviews, and look forward to them throughout the week.
Paula Dooley
43. Diane Dooley
I enjoy your posts very much. Keep 'em coming, please!
44. formerly Underhill
Tor is one of the regular places I visit online, but as I scroll down it's your by-line that most often makes me stop and read. I have read and enjoyed many, many of these reviews. I don't know if I like the ones more that point me to books I haven't read yet but you make me want to... or the ones that go over a book I've read already and feel strongly about, and I wonder what you think of them...
45. formerly Underhill
Tor is one of the regular places I visit online, but as I scroll down it's your by-line that most often makes me stop and read. I have read and enjoyed many, many of these reviews. I don't know if I like the ones more that point me to books I haven't read yet but you make me want to... or the ones that go over a book I've read already and feel strongly about, and I wonder what you think of them...
Estara Swanberg
46. Estara
Congratulations indeed!

You are the main reason I return again and again to this site, even when a lot of the series and books promoted aren't really to my taste. There are other good series of posts, but you're the most consistently interesting to me blogger here.
49. filkferengi
Hi, Jo,

I followed you over here from LJ. While I enjoy many features at, your posts remain the favorite. Thanks again for all the great reads!
Alison Sinclair
50. alixsin
Your posts are the primary contributor to my galloping reading-list bloat. Please don't stop!

(But why, when I search on your name, author and blog posts, do I only get 53 entries?)
T S Davis
51. tee+D
Hey - thank you again for the book recommendations and reviews. I went out and found a copy of the Barbara Hambly just yesterday, and I dug out the Georgette Heyer, and the Joan Aiken you also discussed, as well as the C.J. Cherryh...

We don't always agree or have the same tastes, but I appreciate the way you articulate your reasons, and I really love this feature - and your books - so thanks!
Jo Walton
52. bluejo
Alixsin: The "search" thing doesn't work so well for huge things. If you look at the list of bloggers down the side, and click on "select all" and scroll down, you see the actual number of posts.
Liza .
53. aedifica
I'm commenting on fewer of your posts lately than I did at the beginning, because I usually open them in another tab to read later (and "later" may be weeks later, as in this case). But I always enjoy them! And like so many other people here, I've followed your recommendations to a number of books I might never have read otherwise. Congratulations on the 500th post!

Subscribe to this thread

Receive notification by email when a new comment is added. You must be a registered user to subscribe to threads.
Post a comment