Lately, I’ve been obsessed with writing book reviews; they seem to be the only thing I can regularly publish, and at this precarious point in my literary career–a year out of graduate school, teaching writing to freshmen, struggling to find a full time job and still write–I will take the publications I can get.
Also, book reviews are wonderful, because you can say what you think about books, and for many English majors, once out of school, few people ask or care (unless they are avid readers, themselves) about our literary opinions. Not to mention, the pay. You keep the books you read, and this is the greatest award I could receive for my work.
Besides, if I was handed a check, I would probably spend it on books anyway.
Finally, writing book reviews allows you to encounter books you may have overlooked on the shelves of your favorite library or bookstore, and to get a better sense of what is getting published out in the chaos of the literary world, which in itself is invaluable information to a young writer.