As I rifled through my backpack trying to figure out what would be my first book to read on this Arizona trip, I realized that my appearance was probably not what someone would suspect of a book reviewer who writes for two metro newspapers.

This is me in my wonderful, beautiful Arizona hotel room that has a view of both the 24-hour jacuzzi and mountains. I’m not very good with the mirror picture yet, so you’ll have to cut me some slack. I hope you’ll cut me even more, too, since I got up at 4:30am to catch my flight this morning, and didn’t get to Arizona until 11am EST.

When I whipped a stack of self help books out of my bag, the gentleman in the adjoining seat must have thought I was a sad sack case. There I was, traveling alone (I’m here for work — promise) in a disheveled get up made of too-big sweat pants, too-big t-shirt and too-big hoodie, my carry on bag a back pack that looks like it’s been in use since high school (all true, except for the sad sack part). The only company I brought was my iPod and self help titles. I was very tempted to “accidentally” leave the galley on the seat between us so he’s see the “preview copy – not for sale” stamp so that he’s realize I’m not a schlub but a writer who happened to be woken up two hours before her normal start time, and if I’m getting up before the sun, I’m going to be comfy dammit!

Then again — who cares? He was no Prince Charming himself. Such is the joy of flying.

So here’s my question to you: what would YOU expect a book reviewer to look like?

P.S. And to the person in front of me on the flight from Philly to Atlanta — I know you have long hair. I have it too. But it’s not cool to flip it over the back of your seat so it’s hanging in my face. Yuck.

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Jen Miller

Jen Miller

Jen A. Miller is a an author and freelance writer. Her memoir, Running a Love Story, was a Philadelphia Inquirer best book of the year. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, SELF, Buzzfeed and the Guardian, among others.


  1. Dawn on December 6, 2007 at 1:08 am

    Hi Jen,
    Before I knew anything about book reviewers, I think I pictured them the same was I pictured librarians — long gray hair pulled back into a tight bun, big glasses, tea-length tweed skirt, twin set and pumps (well, the women anyway). You, of course, looking nothing like that.

    Have fun in Arizona. I was there for Thanksgiving. It was so weird to walk outside in 70 degree weather and see Christmas lights!

  2. Trish Ryan on December 6, 2007 at 8:09 pm

    I don’t have any pre-conceived image of a book reviewer…if I can read in sweats and a ponytail, who am I to deny that pleasure to others??? I’d say you rock the look rather well 🙂

  3. Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem M.ED. on December 7, 2007 at 12:08 pm

    I wonder if perhaps the question might be;

    “What does a reviewer think like?”

    I find your entries interesting and enjoyable.

    Not a lot of reviewers are willing to read self-help books. Could you explain or lead me to a previous post that shows the process of how a book gets to the reviewer willing to give an open minded opinion and how the review can end up in a major magazine?



  4. Jen A. Miller on December 7, 2007 at 6:34 pm

    Ha ha! You guys are too funny.

    Marilyn – I’m not actually reviewing the self help books for the newspaper. It’s an article about a trend of self help books. I don’t review them…

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