I hate doing this. But the anonymous Editor of Blawg Review, pictured at right, is asking those of us that have done reviews in the past to nominate the top reviews of the past year. I’ve now done three of them — based on the NYC Marathon (2007), Thanksgiving with Arlo Guthrie (2008), and The Bogeyman at Halloween (this year) — but asking someone to pick favorites from the past year is like asking you to pick 5 people to come to a party when you have 25 on your list. Yuck.
Anyway, this is what I think makes for a good review, and the way I make my selections:
1. Does the BR make me want to click on a link? If there is a long description of the linked post I don’t have to click. But a tease makes me want to click, along the lines of Above the Law’s Non-Sequiturs and Overlawyered‘s roundups.
The more times a BR sends me away to another blog, the higher marks it gets. Sending you away from its website is what made Google famous.
2. Does the review have a story? Stories make for fun and easy reading. I make opening statements that way as it helps the jury to keep pace with what is going on, and that is also why I like seeing reviews around a story.
3. Does the post have a long intro? I hate intros. Like jurors at a trial’s opening, I will never be more attentive than when the first words spill forth. Don’t lose me at hello.
4. Does the post have a legal theme? If it does, it gets generally negative marks from me, because it forces the writer to jam otherwise interesting posts into artificial categories. The themes I used were all non-legal; they were social gatherings where the conversation flows this way and that and can therefore accommodate any topic without odd segues and contortions.
Without further ado, the best of the year from my wholly subjective viewpoint:
- Blawg Review #198 at the East Central Illinois Criminal Law and DUI Weblog, based on the seven deadly sins. The writing made me want to click on link after link;
- Blawg Review #220 at Overlawyered. Did I say I liked stories? Stupid rule. No splashy theme, and little distraction. Walter Olson and Ted Frank (who subsequently became my lawyer) just wrote in a style that made you want to click on links;
- Blawg Review #223, where Scott Greenfield‘s sphincter was firmly in control. Since he hates doing these reviews, and was pinched to do it on a day’s notice, it came out as a delightfully curmudgeonly rant. It’s tough to beat a well-written rant;
- Blawg Review #233 at Popehat revolving around Joshua Norton I, Emperor of the United States of America and Protector of Mexico. Did I say I hate long intros? Stupid rule. They had me at Welcome. Great story and I found myself not only clicking links, but wasting time on Wikipedia afterwards;
Honorable mentions to:
- Blawg Review #203, with drunken debauchery by Geeklawyer. If they were giving out prizes for style he would win it hands down;
- Blawg Review #204, with Elie Mystel slaughtering sacred cows at Above the Law would have made the cut. But they just won one of those ABA Blawg 100 popularity contests, and one win is enough;
- Blawg Review #205A, George Wallace‘s April Fool’s Day appendix at A Fool in the Forest, because you know, I have a thing for April Fool’s Day;
- Blawg Review #209 by John Hochfelder at his New York Injury Cases Blog. If there was a law blogger Rookie of the Year award, it would go here. Wait, I’m a law blogger and I can make up an award just like anyone else. Here John, it’s yours. (Sorry, no badge.) His review was dedicated to his father, a marine, and the posts followed his life.
- Blawg Review #238 by Joel “A Jew With A Gun” Rosenberg at WindyPundit. He celebrated International Tolerance Day. And any review that opens with Tom Lehrer‘s National Brotherhood Week is bound to be a winner. Or at least get honorable mention.
- Blawg Review #241 was hosted by Colin Samuels on Pearl Harbor Day at Infamy and Praise. Saumels wins this award every damn year, so there is no way I’m going to vote for him. You just gotta spread the wealth around a bit.
OK, there you have it. I posted my utterly and completely subjective favorites based on rules I made up and then ignored, and now everyone that wasn’t mentioned hates me. Thanks, Ed.