Things to Remember while Writing a Book Review

As book-lovers, most of us readers also love to review the books we read. Reviews not only help to record our experience of the book, but also help the reading community in deciding what books to read and why. But that is only as long as a book review is done right.

The first book I reviewed or rather attempted to review was Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. This was five years ago when I did not much know the technicalities. A reader who was a regular book reviewer then, commented saying,

“This isn’t a review.”

After so many years, when I stumbled past my review again, I know why she said so.

As reviewers, we have our own styles and there are certain things that need to remain consistent, as a rule of the thumb. Today, although I am a professional reviewer, there are things I learn every single day and then imbibe them in my reviews. Needless to say, these come from people I have known who read and review books, religiously, and are gems in the art of book-reviewing.

I plan to do a series named #DoingBookReviewsRight where I shall be posting articles covering the art of book reviewing and how must one go about doing it the right way.

To begin with, I approached book-lovers I have been following for years. They were kind enough to share their tricks of the trade with me and that is what this post is about. This is an attempt to learn and pass on the knowledge on the art of doing a book review the right way. Once you’re done reading, I am sure you’ll go back to looking at book reviews differently. Feel free to visit their book blogs; I’m sure they’d love to hear from you.

Book-buddy, Suraj, who reviews books over at Books n Myself believes,

Both as a reviewer and a reader, I think one should avoid putting the blurb of the book in
the review because Goodreads/Amazon is the place for that. A summary in your own words (of course, without any spoilers) would be great. This intro thing is important because sometimes the book turns out to be something else from what the blurb promises it to be.
I always try to include my favourite lines from the text in my review. This acts as a sort of sample of the author’s writing style. And this is much better than describing the writing style with some adjectives. Both the things are actually complementary.

SteJ, who has endless book reviews over at Book to the Future says,

My own particular brand of book reviewing is not intent on giving anything of the plot away (unless it is already stated in the blurb (although sometimes I edit that so the reader can have a better experience of learning about the book. For me the key is how the book affects the reader emotionally, as well as pointing out themes and overarching ideas without talking about anything that will infringe the reader’s pleasure when they discover it for themselves. I usually only add quotes if I really enjoy them and give a good sense of either the author’s style.

Reviewer, Drew, who reviews books and movies over at Drew Martin Writes explains,
My reviews, both books and films, are spoiler-free. I’m not trying to prove to a teacher that I did an assignment. I’m a writer, and a try to be creative in how I do my reviews. If I find fault with a book, I’ll explain why and give the reasons I didn’t like it, couldn’t finish it. If I liked it, I want my enjoyment to come through in the praise I give. The main thing I think, is to not so much do a “review,” but give a recommendation. If I list issues I have, then people can say, yeah, that will be an issue for me too. The reverse is also true, and I think that’s what I’m after more. If I really like something, really enjoy something, I want to try to turn other people onto it. If I give them a “play-by-play” breakdown, even if it’s a work everybody’s familiar with, in my mind when I see a review like that, I’m like, “ok, I don’t have to bother with this.” It’s so easy for someone to review a book or film and spoil the experience. I try to set the stage, maybe give a synopsis, but at the end of the day, I’m reviewing my experience with the work more than the work itself. That’s the type of review I want to read. Don’t tell me what’s going to happen. Tell me why or why not to have the experience myself, and that’s what I try to do and do it in a creative way.

Liz Dexter, who offers plethora of writing services over at Libroediting.com shares,
So I’d just say tell the truth but be kind; don’t be mean unnecessarily. Also, if you are going to critcise the spelling and grammar in a book, be SURE to spell the author’s name correctly … Yup, happened to me.

Readers, what do you think? Are there any tested ways of book reviewing that you believe in? Go ahead, share your thoughts and tricks. Let’s learn ways of #DoingBookReviewsRight.

In my next article, I shall share the important elements of a book review. If you have a gem of a thought on #DoingBookReviewsRight, do share them below and I shall have them included in the article.

Happy writing, till we meet next.

Until then, carpe diem! 🙂

~~~~~
Asha Seth

21 thoughts on “Things to Remember while Writing a Book Review

Add yours

  1. This is the first time I have heard there is a technique to it. You started off saying something I totally agree with that every writer has its own style. With information at the hands of our palms, book reviews need to be ridiculously simple, easy to understand above all, make the person holding the book to actually buy it and read it. That calls for giving a blur of the story like a bait for the fish to come. I do use some of the techniques you mentioned, never knowing that they were actual techniques, but I would still give a bit about the background of the story, although nothing that takes the reader’s pleasure away.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You summed it pretty well. I too am of the sort that prefers sharing the book blurb in the review. It is just so the reader knows if the blurb is truly what the book is or if it’s misleading.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post! I just joined this whole book blogging community and often wonder if I have anything worthwhile to say about a book. I guess it’s also something you have to practice to get right. I’ll be sure to follow the series!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Well, then I hope this post and the impending ones in the series help you out. Indeed, you have to keep practising. As many reviewers, as many styles. I’d say find one that showcases you differently. Good luck!

      Like

  3. I have been reviewing books for almost a year. I don’t whether I’m doing it right or not, but I enjoy doing it. One thing I can add is that all books are different from each other, so write the review also differently. I have seen many reviewers who write the same kind of review for each and every book. Jot down the points if necessary, but do complete justice to the book.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree, Aparna. I would want to include that bit in my next article which will be centred around tips for reviewing books. Jotting down points helps immensely I’ve noticed too. Thanks for bringing that up.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This post makes a number of good points. Another is perhaps that if what you’re wanting to do with your review does include the necessity for a few spoilers, say so at the beginning, since putting that information just immediately before the first spoiler itself (when the reader has already become interested and invested in the subject of the review) makes it more likely that the reader’s eye will drop down a line and catch the info they would like to pass up. Apparently, we actually read more like two lines or one and a half lines at once when we are experienced readers reading full tilt.

    Like

  5. I agree. No spoilers, constructive criticism over being critical, and elucidation on the how/why affected the reader experience.
    I’m curious—why wasn’ t Anna K. considered a review?

    Like

  6. Reblogged this on Book to the Future and commented:
    Two reblogs in two days is not the usual for me, but this post has your humble host featured in it so I couldn’t resist.

    Like

  7. Thank you for the shout out, on further reflection I would add constructive criticism is important…unless it is a downright offensive book like Fifty Shades or the Da Vinci Code.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I definitely need to go over my review style- I always start with a summary from goodreads and I can see how maybe that’s wasteful.

    I always think of putting in quotes but always forget to mark them in the book because I’m enjoying the reading too much. It’s too time consuming to then go back and hunt for them.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thank you, Asha! I had been waiting for this post eagerly. And you’ve pleasantly surprised me by launching a whole series.

    It was really great getting to know some key points of other reviewers. I’ll be looking forward to the upcoming posts in the series.

    Like

“I love writing. I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions.” ― James A. Michener

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