Reviewers of the Year 2022

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 2022.

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 2022.

Emily Bowles

Emily Bowles has been reviewing for LJ since 2018, and she was one of first reviewers I assigned when I first started working here in April. She has handled every review request with professionalism and a high-quality standard. She is always willing to read everything, too, from titles within social science, including feminism and social injustices, to lifestyle topics. She’s also a speed reader who consistently submits her reviews weeks early and accepts an average of three or more books a month. Her writing skills rank superior, so editing her work is a breeze, especially since each review showcases her expertise, intelligence, and thoughtfulness about what librarians need to know about the book. It’s an absolute joy to work with Emily.—Jill Cox-Cordova

I started reviewing for LJ to fill a gap in my reading and writing life. I’d left academic work and didn’t know how to translate my knowledge of 18th-century women and gender studies into anything intelligible. Since my first reviews, I’ve been fueled by the opportunity to read daring books on topics ranging from knitting and nutrition to social justice, online dating for the over 40 set, feminist economics, and more. The voices I’ve discovered, the texts I’ve sat with, and the conversations I’ve seen arise around many of these books have been an intellectual gift like no other.—Emily Bowles

Heather Miller Cover 

It has been a joy to work with Heather this year as I began editing romance reviews at LJ. I appreciate how knowledgeable she is about the romance genre and her genuine enthusiasm for it. She is an excellent collaborator who writes thoughtful reviews and finds a wide range of fantastic titles to highlight. She doesn’t just tell readers what happens in the story; she makes it clear why readers will want to pick up the book, from the sizzling chemistry of the protagonists and the witty banter to the food descriptions that will make readers salivate and the well-deployed romance tropes. Library staff can trust her insights on which books are essential for a collection (or not).—Melissa DeWild

I was a public librarian for 26 years, and my favorite part of that job was always reader’s advisory. Reviewing romance novels for LJ allows me to continue sharing my love of the genre. It has been especially wonderful to highlight debut authors and BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ authors and protagonists. These authors don’t always have automatic name recognition, so giving library staff information that could lead to their purchase is incredibly important. It’s also a sheer delight to continually read books that always—ALWAYS—end with happily-ever-afters.—Heather Miller Cover 

Luke Gorham

“Who is this reviewer,” asked a colleague; “his writing is amazing!” It’s Luke Gorham, who came onboard just a few short years ago when I was searching for poetry reviewers and has since proven invaluable, not only in his smart assessment of verse but in fiction, where he ambitiously asks for (and gets) a dozen titles at a time. (He really gets credit in both genres.) In COVID times, when I’ve had fewer reviewers and a bigger workload, he’s been a godsend—not just for the volume of his reviews but their quality: erudite, deeply considered, and gorgeously written as they plunge into the heart of the text while framing it with a sure understanding of literature.—Barbara Hoffert 

I love reviewing for Library Journal for a whole mess of reasons, but I guess the biggest is that it forces me to stay present with the text. It’s so easy to allow distraction into our everyday lives and to let our minds wander. Knowing that I will need to put words to the page, particularly with a platform as esteemed as Library Journal, means I need to stay deeply and fully engaged, which is a rewarding habit to cultivate across the board. I also love how reviewing encourages more adventurous reading for me, helping me stay more attuned to the literary landscape. Plus, reviewing makes me read more, which in turns provides me more titles to peddle to others. Isn’t that what all of us book lovers really want in the end?—Luke Gorham

Lauren Hackert

Working with Lauren has been a dream come true. When confronted with a hectic day, I often save her reviews for a special treat. I know that they will be amazing, and every time I read her work I am excited to think of the many librarians who will be able to benefit from her expertise. Lauren listens to all kinds of books, from historical romance to true crime, but whatever the genre, her reviews are exquisitely written—full of wit, insight, and wonderful turns of phrase. As an audio editor, I am so grateful for Lauren’s ability to write reviews that focus on the listening experience, highlighting the unique qualities that make for an outstanding listen.—Sarah Hashimoto

When I applied to be an LJ reviewer earlier this year, I had no notion of the opportunities ahead of me! I have since worked on various assignments for both Library Journal and School Library Journal, but most often on LJ’s quarterly Audio Supplement. I was very new to audio when I started, so it has been an immersive educational experience (and also a lot of fun) learning about audio-specific appeals. I love this format now and don’t know how I lived without it! This endeavor has given me the chance to grow so much, both personally and professionally, and I’m honored to be recognized as one of the Reviewers of the Year.—Lauren Hackert

Migdalia Jimenez

When Migdalia and I first talked about her reviewing for LJ, I could not dream of the span of contributions she would make. Not only does she review across several genres but she has also written a Reader’s Shelf piece and generously lends her talents to our book festivals. Her dedication to helping other librarians build excellent collections, combined with her strong sense of the reading experience, makes her reviews a joy to read; she offers a bibliophile’s take on the book, balanced by a keen collection-development eye. LJ is fortunate to have Migdalia’s expertise reflected in our pages, and the multiple editors who have worked with her are lucky to count her as a valuable colleague.—Neal Wyatt

The opportunity to connect library staff to books is such an honor and a joy. At the beginning of my career, when I was first put in charge of collection development, I found it a daunting task. Reading LJ reviews helped me make informed decisions that made me more confident in my role. Now, being on the other side of the equation—writing the reviews that other library professionals trust—is a responsibility I take seriously. Writing reviews is not only a fun experience but it has also made my readers advisory skills stronger and deepened my understanding of the genres I get to review. I love how with each review I write, there is a dialogue built up between the books, myself, and the readers. The fact that I get to read books before they’re even published is the cherry on top.—Migdalia Jimenez

David Keymer

In 1980, David Keymer sent in his first LJ review, of Richard Goldthwaite’s The Building of Renaissance Florence (Princeton Univ.). He completed more than 56 reviews in 2022 and is homing in on a grand total of more than 830 reviews (at press time). After 43 years and several editors, he shows no signs of slowing down. With elan and erudition, David reviews books on European history, historiography, and historical method; memoirs and biographies; popular fiction, crime novels; and even arts and entertainment titles. Simply listing all his categories does not convey the strength and caliber of his reviews, nor his vast area of expertise. When I began assigning popular fiction and crime novels in 2018, David was an avid contributor. He remains so to this day, reviewing through hard times (COVID, the loss of a spouse) and good times (two grandchildren!), and I am honored to have been a part of his time at Library Journal.—Liz French

I started reviewing when I left full-time teaching and scholarship for administrative work. I was still reading as much but felt I wasn’t reading as sharply. A colleague of mine had made the same transition and suggested I check out Library Journal. Forty years later and I look back and see I reviewed all three books of Hilary Mantel’s “Wolf Hall” trilogy, six books by and about Tocqueville in America, nine books in one sweep on Shakespeare, and seven novels set in the pre– and post–Civil War era. How could I not love that?—David Keymer

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