For me, B is for “Book Reviews.” Here’s what the Wikipedia has to say about book reviews: “A book review is a form of literary criticism in which a book is analysed based on content, style, and merit.” That said, do readers and potential buyers of books get influenced by book reviews? Do you, for example, go out and buy a book because the review was great?
Do you, likewise, shun a book you wished to read because a book review left you cold? Of course, there are book reviews and book reviews. It’s sad to see book reviews done in a perfunctory manner in which the reviewer merely uses some material from the back cover copy to present a “review.” This is so unfair to the writer.
In a good review, it becomes clear that the reviewer has read the book and added his own perspective when writing about the book. The description of the plot and the characters ( if it is a work of fiction, for example) is indicative of the time the reviewer has invested in reading the book.
I started reviewing books fairly recently. It has been an interesting journey and I have reviewed a variety of books. You will find my book reviews in this website itself in the category of “Book Reviews.” I have learnt the following about reviewing a book :
- Be objective in your assessment. You don’t have to praise the writer because you were sent a free copy of the book for review. Nor should you come down heavily on the writer because his literary agent didn’t select you or you weren’t published by his publisher. Besides, everyone is entitled to their own views. What you write is your view and others are welcome to agree or disagree with you.
- Don’t give the game away: especially if you are reviewing fiction, don’t spoil the story by spilling the beans. Let the reader enjoy reading the story for themselves. The review could suggest the book has an interesting end but you don’t have to give away all the little details.
- Writers can do with honest feedback, so it helps point out errors, big and small, that have crept into the book. These could be factual errors, editorial mistakes, major blunders in spelling or anything that helps the author develop himself in his craft of writing.
To hear this and more from an expert, see what Rebecca Skloot’s “Tips For Successful Book Reviewing.”
Reviewing books gives me fresh perspectives on writing styles, adds to my knowledge and gives me great enjoyment for the time invested in reading that book.