Writing book reviews, whether online or in print, doesn’t pay enormously, but it pays something, and it comes with a few perks. What better way to spend one’s time, if you’re a writer and a reader, than reading, forming opinions about what you’ve read, and publicly spouting those opinions? Plus there are the freebies: the books.
I rarely review a book that I totally hate, unless it gives out false information that I want to reveal and correct. I almost never trash fiction — I can think of only one novel I’ve ever reviewed negatively, and for the same reason: false information and stereotyping. I figure it’s so hard to write a novel–good or bad–what’s the point of trashing it? It’s sort of like criticizing an unattractive newborn. If I can’t say anything nice about a novel, I just say nothing.
Here are some tips for writing book reviews.
Considerations When Reviewing Fiction
• Are the characters developed? Interesting? Believable?
• Does the story make sense? Does it pull you in?
• Does the novel or story present a fresh perspective? Does it put a new spin on an old situation? Does it move you to see the world in a way you hadn’t before? Did you learn anything?
• Was it well written? Did it paint a vivid image? Could you feel it with your senses? What about the rhythm of the language?
• Why did you like/dislike it?
• What scenes stand out?
• Does it deal with universal themes?
• Whose point of view is presented and how successfully?
• Does the author give any clues to the ending?
• How does it compare to author’s previous work or other books on similar topics?
• Does it convey any message/values/politics/philosophy?
Additional Considerations When Reviewing Non-Fiction
Note the qualifying word Additional. By this I mean that you should address some of the same issues as you would with fiction – those that seem appropriate to the particular book/topic under consideration — as well as the following list.
• What are the author’s credentials to write on this topic? What are yours?
• Does the book explore new territory; if not, how does it compare to other books on the topic?
• Does it accomplish what it sets out to do?
• Is the information accurate? If not, how do you know?
• Is there a compelling reason that people need the information presented in the book?
• Does the book convey any message/values/politics/philosophy?
If anyone has any tips or tricks of their own, feel free to post them in the comment box.
Is there any sight sweeter than a boy reading a book on a summer day?
- The dish about book reviews (heatherfromthegrove.wordpress.com)