Recommending a book has changed since I first became an avid reader. Once upon a time, my reaction might have been akin to something like this, “that was good,” and in turn while I was sitting around on the floor of my friend’s house, chatting, I’d have said, “you should read this book – want to borrow mine?” Today, I write a rambling 500-word review in which I debate the merits of a book, splash those thoughts across Twitter, document the reading progress on Goodreads and look for fellow readers’ opinions. How far that thirteen-year-old girl has come.Lessons Learned from Book Reviewing #FWarchives Click To Tweet
Last week, a reader kindly shared with me that my review prompted her to read a book and she enjoyed the novel as a result. Then Lydia posed a question on Twitter wondering what other’s thought about “rating systems.” This got me thinking – what do
I want to impart in a review and more importantly what do you wish to get out of a review? Earlier in the year, I saw an expert blog post on writing book reviews; it’s an interesting subject. Made me think about what I’ve been able to claim as new experiences, learning the good and bad ends of reviewing. It’s something that I claim as a “challenge” in the best sense.
In my humble experience, there is no “right” or “wrong” way to write a book review. Obviously there are the “basics,” you as a reader should consider; sharing likes vs. dislikes, cute quirks you may have laughed over in the book or a personal anecdote that happened during the reading time. Beyond that, each format is unique to each reviewer.
Here are some of the talking points I like to include and ways I’ve vacillated in how “best” to write reviews plus some “rules” I write by.
Book Reviewing Lessons
Format: This is probably the greatest challenge. Speaking from experience, you’ll have probably all noticed that I’ve used a variety of formats. From writing a strict, “full-length” synopsis in my own words followed by conclusive thoughts to dividing up the review between the pros and cons, there’ve been several revisions around here. Any way you write the review is really up to the writer, but one thing I think are important is seeing the books “stats” (i.e., the publisher, publication date or if the book belongs in
a series) and I think I prefer the “proper” publisher’s posted synopsis after a reviewers thoughts.
My goal is not only for the format to be easy to read but also easy to write, so dear readers tell me, which of the numerous formats do you prefer?
Opinions: Number one to all reviews – no matter the presentation or familiarity of the author’s and their work, is honesty. There is no way around that. It’s the first thing I tell myself when starting a new review – I try to accurately assess what I loved about the book, what bugged me and weigh the pros and cons overall. Everything I write is done so with the goal of being honest – hence the reason I may too often repeat too many of the reasons the book didn’t suit (in multiple reviews albeit a different book, re-hashing the same topic), particularly if I feel like the only reader who doesn’t like the book, it’s kind of my way of saying, in all likelihood, “it’s me, not the author.”
Looking back over some of my older reviews – as well as current, sometimes I question the validity of the words I wrote, namely those that are gushing and say nothing “bad” about the book. Each time the reacting is the same thing; it’s sincere. If a review is overwhelming with positive reactions (who doesn’t like a well-placed exclamation point – we all relate, right!? *wink*), it’s because the book genuinely inspired that reaction in me. The same goes for any reaction; the good is taken and accepted with the bad and vice versa.
Rating System: When first I began reviewing, I didn’t “rate” the book. Meaning, there’s a review but there’s no 4/5 star rating implemented. Once I begin accepting blog tours in earnest and posting reviews to Amazon and Goodreads, things changed. The “star rating” just naturally transitioned into blogging.
What do you – authors, readers, and bloggers – think of “rating” books? Is it helpful? Necessary?
Now, I’d like to open this topic – or any bookish, writing topic, for discussion. What do you, our blog reader’s look for when checking reviews of books or anything review subject? What do you, the reviewers want to impress on readers – and authors, do you like anything specific from book bloggers?
What’s your best book reviewing lessons advice? Any thoughts are most welcome! Please, the comment section is open for discussion.