WRITING A GOOD BOOK REVIEW: IS THERE A WRONG OR RIGHT WAY? Chatting on book reviews and opinions on that, plus the question of right or wrong. All text is © Rissi JC

WRITING A GOOD BOOK REVIEW: IS THERE A WRONG OR RIGHT WAY?

June 8, 2021 8 Comments

I’m a pretty contemplative person. Recently I’ve been contemplating a lot. Big things. Little things. Silly things. Doesn’t matter the “what,” I contemplate it. One of the less important things is book reviewing, and more specifically whether or not there’s a right or wrong way. Recently I did hear thoughts on the subject, and so I began to think about it and wonder about the question that is how to write a book review. Is this even a question or is it more of a “guideline.”

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When I first started blogging, I think I was one of those people who felt timid about writing a book review. Especially one that came with an expectation (and a book from a publisher). This was kind of a “big deal” for someone who didn’t think they had anything more important to say than any other blogger in the sphere. As a result, I grew and sure, I wrote about tips for writing a book review. Did I think they were THE only way to write a review? No. It was more about remembering how I felt at the start.

Two things recently sparked my feeling about this topic. One is something I heard and another is the re-edits I’ve been doing on the old reviews here on this space. There are some basic courtesy “rules,” if you will of book reviewing. Some of them are as follows.

HOW TO WRITE A BOOK REVIEW


LENGTH

As is the common rule, most publishers will asks for a minimum of x-amount of words, minus the synopsis. This seems fair.

PROS AND CONS

The idea of a review is to share what you love, but if you lower the rating, no matter the reason, to also share why you gave it a three or maybe two star rating. This, while maybe a little bit more of a challenge, can be done in a kind way that doesn’t bash.

WRITING A GOOD BOOK REVIEW: IS THERE A WRONG OR RIGHT WAY? Chatting on "how to write a book review," plus the question of right or wrong. © Rissi JC

STATS

While I don’t know that this is a “general rule” of thumb or not, it’s nice if you mention who publishes the book or the link to add the novel on Goodreads. Most publishers also like you to share your review on Goodreads and/or Amazon, and as a rule, you do have to mention if a publisher sends you the book.


Beyond these courtesy things, is there really a “right” or “wrong” way to write a review? I like to think what I’ve learned in ten years is an emphatic no, there is not.

I used to write lengthy and drawn out reviews, most of which made little to NO sense. Does this mean that they are bad? Not necessarily because at the time I put WORK into that review. I thought about each one (maybe overmuch) and I tried to be fair with what I said. My reviews today are mini by comparison. Without meaning to, I’ve adopted the “less is more” strategy hopefully by learning and by becoming a better writer. Another of my favorite things to do in a review is write my own synopsis or plot. This I recently learned is a big “no-no” (an opinion) for reviews. I do this for two reasons.

The first of which is I started as a way to challenge my writing more and try to sum up a story concisely. The second more recent and practical reason why I continue to do this is because anytime I use a back cover synopsis, it makes the SEO work for the post more work. I know that that publisher’s synopsis is likely better, more concise and tells the reader more about the book. However, because I don’t use it doesn’t mean that this method of reviewing is wrong. It just means this is how I write reviews. This is what works for me.

When it comes to writing a review, we’re all going to have a style. Or hopefully we do. Sometimes it’ll be one that readers will find difficult to enjoy or make sense of. Maybe sometimes the review will make perfect sense to another reader and they’ll enjoy that style of writing. Whatever the method, let it be your way of writing. Because, at the end of a day, what you’re doing is telling an interpretation of a story. Something that might not be the same as the person next to you, but it’s yours. Stories are always subjective, and that’s part of their beauty. We all pull something different from them, so why shouldn’t our reviews of them reflect this?

What about you? Tell me fellow readers and reviewers, what are your thoughts on book reviewing? Do you have any common rules you follow or opinions? What’s your “how to write a book review” musts or must-nots? I’d love to read all of your thoughts and opinions; sound off below so we can chat!

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WRITING A GOOD BOOK REVIEW: IS THERE A WRONG OR RIGHT WAY? Chatting on book reviews and opinions on that, plus the question of right or wrong. All text is © Rissi JC

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About Rissi JC

amateur photog. #bookblogger. downton abbey. inspys. internet-photo-shy. writer. the aspiration is to someday write professionally. a girl can dream, right?

Rissi JC

amateur photog. #bookblogger. downton abbey. inspys. internet-photo-shy. writer. the aspiration is to someday write professionally. a girl can dream, right?

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8 Comments

  • Paula Shreckhise June 9, 2021 at 12:13 pm

    Some great tips, Rissi.
    I find my method of writing reviews changes with each book I read. I do like to use my favorite quotes from the book to show the faith thread or the personality of the characters. I try to show what I liked about the story and try to find a theme or two that comes through. I may state my favorite character or say the author is a favorite and if I’m looking forward to reading the next in a series. I review a lot of books for author’s teams or publishers, so it’s important to root for the book. And as such, I cannot forget my disclaimer according to each publisher’s wishes. There are a lot of great books out there right now. I rarely pick a clunker but try to be kind and say it is not for me.

    • Rissi June 23, 2021 at 11:01 pm

      (Apologies for the reply delay!) Hi, Paula. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I love your suggestion of mentioning a favorite character; I also like to talk about the romance if it’s one I really enjoy. :) Quotes are always fun add-ons, too! Oh, and I think that’s cool that your method changes with the book!

  • Angela June 10, 2021 at 6:26 am

    I agree that there’s not really a “wrong” way to write a book review, although I would suggest maybe staying away from personal attacks on the author! Try to keep things objective, and if you have a serious issue with the book, have specific examples to back it up.

    • Rissi JC June 23, 2021 at 11:05 pm

      (Apologies for the reply delay!) Hi, Angela; so glad to have you share your thoughts. :)

      100% agree! Stay away from personal attacks. I’m not for that in any way. I also try not to review books (unless from a publisher) that *really* bother me because of themes or content or character. Instead, I set the book aside and simply move on to something I enjoy. I will discuss a book I don’t care for (and why) in my video wrap ups, but it’s more a wide-ranging “reason” why rather than anything. Like, I don’t like that secular fiction (no matter the author) puts in so much “shock value” content. Often I find that this doesn’t serve the story well, it’s just there because it’s a secular novel and the genre allows for it. Again, appreciate you sharing your thoughts. :)

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