How to write a book review in 3 easy steps

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In today’s uber-wired society, most of us are bloggers. Think about it…you’ve probably already posted something on Twitter (microblogging) or Facebook (slightly longer microblogging). Or maybe you’ve used Tumblr (graphic blogging), Snapchat (also graphic blogging) or even YouTube (video blogging–or vlogging). Most of us have something to say about…well… something.

Most of us are also consumers of some kind of  popular culture, be it books, magazines, games, television or the movies. We watch voraciously. Some of us read that way, too. Most eBook sites invite users to review the books they read in order to generate sales. For us consumers, the people who pay the producers of popular culture, what better way is there than to voice an opinion on our satisfaction with the products we’ve purchased with our hard earned money than to write a review?

It’s not all that hard, really. Just three easy steps to reviewing success.

But if you’re going to review and post your review, you have to do it responsibly. Think of it this way–if you don’t understand a painting you see in the museum you wouldn’t stand in front of the museum with a sign saying “Don’t See This Painting!” Okay, so maybe some of you would. But that doesn’t make it okay. Authors put most of their blood, sweat and tears over the course of months or years into everything they write. That kind of devotion must be respected, no matter what you think about the end product. Just remember that at the receiving end of every review is a flesh and blood person with feelings and you should be okay.

Now, as promised, 3 steps to writing a good book review…

Step 1 – The Retell

Your first paragraph should retell some of the important plot points that lead up to but do not reveal the climax. Introduce main characters and their relationships and why they’re important to the story.

Step 2 – The Analysis

Every novel is written with a social conscience. This is the injustice the author sees in society that he thinks he can draw attention to by writing about it. Academics call this “theme”.

Discuss the theme in your analysis. Think about the voice and tone of the narrator; what about this is unique? Were there any recurring symbols or images and if so, how did they affect your understanding of the theme?

Step 3 – The Reflect

This is where you make connections with your understanding of the world around you. How does the novel relate to anything else you’ve ever heard or seen or read?

Lastly, discuss what you thought of the book, but before you do, try to figure out why you really liked or disliked the piece. Rather than say “The point of view is awful,” try to find a reason why you hated it so much. Maybe you didn’t like the idea of a male protagonist. Maybe  you are used to first person narratives and you just don’t get the second person viewpoint. Try to remember that this is your interpretation based on your life and reading experience and not about a major flaw in the author’s storytelling ability.

End your post with a call to action. Ask what others think in general or about a specific aspect of the work and invite them to leave a message with their opinion. Don’t forget to answer everyone kind enough to post.

What did you think?

Was this article helpful? Drop me a line letting me know why or why not. Feel free to post your book review here for feedback.

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