We of the human race love to pat ourselves on the back. Think about it. We have the Academy Awards, in which the Hollywood industry pats itself on the back, and countless other award venues like it. We write resumes that tout all our wonderful experiences, education, and qualifications. We who we write weblogs are always checking our stats to see just how many people are paying attention to what we write.

With all this self back-patting going on, it is not surprising to see it pop up when Canada’s website had a glitch last week which revealed many “anonymous” book reviewers’ names:

John Rechy, author of the best-selling 1963 novel “City of Night” and winner of the PEN-USA West lifetime achievement award, is one of several prominent authors who have apparently pseudonymously written themselves five-star reviews, Amazon’s highest rating. Rechy, who laughed about it when approached, sees it as a means to survival when online stars mean sales.

“That anybody is allowed to come in and anonymously trash a book to me is absurd,” said Rechy, who, having been caught, freely admitted to praising his new book, “The Life and Adventures of Lyle Clemens,” on Amazon under the signature “a reader from Chicago.” “How to strike back? Just go in and rebut every single one of them.”

Rechy is in good company. Walt Whitman and Anthony Burgess both famously reviewed their own books under assumed names. But several modern-day writers said the Internet, where anyone from your mother to your ex-agent can anonymously broadcast an opinion of your work, has created a more urgent need for self-defense.

I’ve always wondered about this when reading’s reviews. If you’ve ever read them, you’ll know that sometimes you find some good, thoughtful reviews. Other times you’ll find the useless ranting of someone who bought the book only to discover that there was not pictures in it.

I doubt most people are deterred by such reviews, but I’m sure the practice will continue. But a good rule of thumb is not to follow a review of a book that is too glowing (with the exception of my “Books That Haunt” series, of course), and dismiss reviews writeeen bye peepul who can’t speul.