Reviewers of the Year 2021

LJ editors rely on reviewers’ dedication, expertise, and trusted insights throughout the year. Their voices help librarians across the nation build collections, share books, and maintain collections. Here are some of our exceptional reviewers from 2021.

Beth Andersen

What I have loved most about working with Beth Andersen these many years is that, whatever the book, she gets it right every time. No cookie-cutter opinions, no wobbles outside the scope of the book, no stock or fallback language—just a clear, fresh understanding of what the author aimed to accomplish and why we should pay attention. I can send her anything from crossover literary-popular fiction to heady books in translation, and her smartness will prevail. Beth always has a gentle, thoughtful touch in her writing—not lightweight but light filled, deft and illuminating. And she can drop the occasional sharp bon mot. The one phrase I remember from all the reviews I’ve edited over 35 years is Beth’s declaration of a particular steamy scene that reading it you could “break a sweat in an igloo.” But you never sense Beth’s breaking a sweat; her writing is effortless.—Barbara Hoffert 

Every month I open a prepub book with two emotions: respect for the months or years of solitary hard work required to produce it and a deep sense of responsibility to the booksellers and librarians, their users, and their budgets. Every book is a new adventure: Will it be a pitch-perfect debut? Another stunning addition to a best-selling author’s body of work? Or a tale of unparalleled originality? I am always surprised by the answer and so humbled by LJ ’s trust in me.—Beth Andersen

Elizabeth Gabriel

Elizabeth reviews both romance and audiobooks, two categories I assign and care about deeply. I’m so grateful for her well-written reviews and thoughtful commentary and for the fact that she keeps the needs of library workers front of mind when considering whether to recommend a title. It’s a pleasure to edit her reviews!—Stephanie Klose

For the past three years, reviewing romance novels and audiobooks for Library Journal has been both a chance to hone my reader’s advisory skills and to showcase the breadth and wealth of the romance genre. Each time I get a new assignment, I’m thrilled to craft a review that will help my fellow library workers select titles for their patrons and connect readers with the right romance novel. I’m so proud and grateful to showcase the joy of the happily-everyone-after in a professional journal.—Elizabeth Gabriel

Lisa Henry

Though it’s been just a little over a year since Lisa Henry began reviewing for me, in that short period she’s become indispensable. In 2021, she wrote a superb collection development piece on women in rock, profiled the author of a book on sea shanties, and reviewed a range of performing arts titles, from an oral history of Grey’s Anatomy to an analysis of Black feminist comedy to a memoir by Sinead O’Connor. An enthusiastic reviewer, Lisa often suggests forthcoming titles that LJ should be covering, and her excitement comes through in everything she writes—I’m always thrilled when I see a review from her arrive in my inbox. I may not have known her all that long, but I have a feeling this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.—Mahnaz Dar

When the world suddenly stopped and libraries had to close their doors to the public, I was anxious to find an outlet to share my passion for works that enlighten, educate, and motivate—and LJ came to my rescue! Under the guidance of Mahnaz Dar, an editor with the patience of a saint, I have definitely come out of my comfort zone and tackled a variety of artists, authors, and genres, gaining insight into the world of performing arts and hopefully assisting others in their purchasing decisions. I am forever grateful for this opportunity!—Lisa Henry

Lindsay King

LJ arts and fashion reviewer Lindsay King is a delight to work with, a fantastic writer, and a critical thinker whose opinions I value. I say this almost every year about every “Reviewer of the Year,” but her reviews barely require any editing, maybe a tweak or two. She contributes much more than “just” reviews, though. When I tapped her to write a fashion and style collection development piece in LJ’s October 2021 issue, she came through beautifully, hunting down a wide range of titles and annotating them deftly and concisely. She also perked up our Zoom meetings with an array of matching masks and fashion talk, a boon during a rough year (and counting). Lindsay has been reviewing for us since Nov. 2011, and I’m delighted to wish her a happy 10th anniversary.—Liz French

I first started writing book reviews at the suggestion of my former supervisor and mentor, and I’m tickled to be named a Reviewer of the Year 10 years later. Conveying something substantial to fellow librarians within the concise structure of an LJ review has helped hone my writing skills, and I feel far more practiced at it after 41 reviews (and counting!). Putting together the collection development feature gave me a cheerful project during a stressful summer. I so enjoyed gathering and reviewing this list of books that show how fashion is about more than what we wear, especially talking things through with the lovely Liz French.—Lindsay King

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing