How to Write Book Reviews for Your Blog
August 16, 2008 8 Comments
Book reviews are everywhere now. And more people are writing reviews and posting them online. Journal and magazine editors worry that literary book reviews will become obsolete and that paid reviewers will be out of a job. I hope this doesn’t happen, because so much of the reviewing done online is of a different quality and serves a different purpose. At the same time, I think the proliferation of book reviewing by bloggers is a positive development.
Here are a few suggestions for bloggers who want to write reviews that people will read.
- Make sure you’ve read the book.
- Make sure you understand the point of the book, the aims of the author.
- When reviewing a non-fiction book, say what kind of book it is. (Think, for example, in terms of the section of a bookstore where you would expect to find this book.)
- If the book develops an argument, state the basic thesis and how it’s supported by the author, then evaluate the thesis and the argument for it. Do you agree or disagree? Does the author make a good argument for something you don’t believe? Are you disappointed in an argument that’s been made for something you do believe?
- When reviewing fiction, be careful not to spoil your review with too many plot details. Also, say what kind of fiction it is, describe the author’s writing style, and say who is most likely to enjoy reading this book and why.
- Say what you like about the book and why.
- Disagree with the author freely, but show respect. Dramatist Edward Albee remarked that “if Attila the Hun were alive today, he’d be a drama critic.” For some reason, authors respond better to kindness.
- Use good-natured humor.
- Write about something you learned as a result of reading the book. Did the book lead you to take some specific action that was new for you? Did it shake your convictions about something? Did it strengthen your beliefs about certain things? (You can do this for fiction as well as non-fiction.)
- Include one or two interesting quotes from the book.
- Encourage comments on your post by others who have read the book or something else by the same author or on the same topic.
If you know of any blogs with consistently good book reviews, I hope you’ll give their give their URLs in the combox below. And if you found these suggestions helpful for writing a review, come back and tell us about it!