How To

How to write a thought provoking book review

412-peeSince I’m still playing catch-up with life. (There are now two weddings, a baptism,  a big-awesomesauce-super-secret-illustration-project, another gallery show and oh yeah- ALL of October to account for now). I wanted to talk to about what normal lives here on Thursdays, book reviews.

So, I’ve gotten pretty fast at reading, but I still am not what I’d call a speed reader because as a story pulls me in all sense of time a urgency disappear as my imagination takes over. And when I finally resurface from my post-book hangover I go, “Oh, right, I should have taken more notes so I can review this…” Thankfully, I’ve gotten my formula down to a point where I can pretty easily fill in the gaps.

So Today, I wanted to share with you two things.

  1. my format for book reviews
  2. my theology behind how I do book reviews

The Horror Made Format to book reviews

Once upon a time I found a post that one of my fellow bloggers posted about her format for reviewing. Can I find that format now, almost a year later? Not at all. I’ve been searching through my various notes and I can’t find it at all. When I figure it out, I’ll add her to this post, because she helped me a lot in figuring out the formula that worked best for me.

So here it is:

First, the introduction. Here I like to add my guiding thoughts about the book. How did I react to it? What deeper thoughts about life, and our existence in it did it bring out?

I’ll also add a little section on how I discovered the book.  Have I read anything by this author before? If I have, I’ll add links to previous reviews, interviews etc here.

Next is:

The title of the book, nice and bold

with a little left aligned photo of the cover.

This next section is all the quick facts about the book.

Who was it written by?

What Genre or Genres/keywords do I think it falls into?

How was it published? What company and when was it published? 

Book Description: [Which I often pull straight off of amazon]

Then I cover the broad strokes “Overall”

How did I react to the book? Do I think that, overall, it was successful? How was the pacing?

What weaknesses did it have?

Was the pacing dreadful? Did I connect with the characters? Why or why not? I actively try to find at least one thing to give constructive criticism on. That way, if the author reads the post (which they often do) I can offer some helpful feedback in someway. It’s also a good place to give readers a heads-up on what to expect from the weaknesses in the book.

What strengths did it have?

This is often a multi-paragraph section. I’ll cover:

How believable are the characters?

Did I believe their emotional journey? Where they successful in telling the story that they needed to tell? Why or why not?

What scenes really stuck with me?

Out of the entire book what is one scene that lingers in my brain. Explain it- without spoiling it, and explore why I think it sticks.

Then I round it all up with a Verdict

Star rating- how many blood spattered stars out of 5 would I give it? I ask myself, who would enjoy reading this? And is there anything out there that it’s similar to? Either movies or books. 

Then I add where you can find it

Which is usually an affiliate link to Amazon, because hey- If you buy the book because of me, that .02 cents I get from the purchase makes my day a brighter one.

And then, because I’m obsessed with connecting with the makers

I’ll add all the links I can find to the author of the book. Which sometimes is a challenge. Dear authors, make full use of you Amazon author page to link to the rest of your sites! People, like myself, do use it. 🙂

As for the theological (I’m not sure that’s the right word at all, but I’m going with it anyway) Approach

Dan and I discussed that in episode 412 of the 9th Story. Go check it out 🙂

Listen and Subscribe

 stitcher tunein google play Patreon

Advertisements

2 replies »

  1. Thanks for sharing this! I’m going to borrow from it — if not for posting book reviews, for aids in journaling books I read. I have a terrible time summarizing and telling people about books, because I’m always on the lookout for what I can learn about the craft of writing. People end up getting a synopsis of style and structure and learn almost nothing from me about the story. “Oh, the story was great and engaging, but let me tell you about how Tolstoy intricately wove a plethora of behavior traits and details into every scene to reveal emotion and even thoughts without explicitly telling you AND without boring you with half a page of bland description! Brilliant!”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lol, borrow away. Although I do enjoy a good scholarly dissection of literature as well. Maybe ask yourself, “how can I tell a story about these elements in the book I loved.” One other thing I often find myself doing is kind of mimicking the style of a story in the language I use in the review. That’s not generally purposeful, but I’d like for it to be.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s