“Here is a great article on book reviews”
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With books now so so readily available on ebook readers, ipods etc,
it would be great to get reader reviews.
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How to write a book review. Pie graph included.
In recent months, several interns and high school students have expressed an interest in reviewing books for the Chronicle.
I designed this book review pie graph for them — to give them a sense of what makes a sturdy review. The percentages I’ve assigned are a matter of preference, of course, and there’s certainly some wiggle room. But not much.
1. Plot synopsis: One of your main jobs as a book reviewer is to tell readers what a book is about so they can decide for themselves whether or not to buy or read it. Introduce the main characters. Discuss the problems they encounter. And if it’s fiction you’re reviewing — or mystery — don’t give away the ending. NEVER give away the ending.
2. Critical analysis: The most important part of a review describes why the book succeeds and/or why it fails. This can be tricky. First you have to figure out what the author hoped to convey: Is the book meant to be funny? Deep? Mysterious? Provocative? Then you need to determine if the author got there. If a book is ABSOLUTELY TERRIBLE, think twice about reviewing it at all. To justify taking up space online or in print, there should be something redeeming about the text. And stay in tune with the book. For example, “Bossypants” is a memoir with Tina Fey’s trademark wit. Even though it’s well-written and insightful, don’t go looking for high art there. It is what it is. Judge it on its own terms.
3. Showing off: Book reviewers are writers, too. Let yourself shine a bit. Write carefully and economically. Also, craft one or two sentences or phrases that are blurb-able, particularly if you’re reviewing a book by a high-profile author. It’s nice to get your name (or the name of the organization that has hired you to write the review) out there – onto Amazon, onto paperback copies of the book, and so on. One of the first books I ever reviewed was Margaret Atwood’s “Alias Grace.” I described the novel as “a visceral, even sexy book, thick with the business of living.” That phrase ran with ads for the book in all the major newspapers. I was thrilled.
4. Providing context: If reviewing a prolific author, be sure to examine the book against his or her greater body of work. For example, how does this new Stephen King book stack up against all the King classics? If an author isn’t well-known but is writing about a popular topic or within a popular genre — today that might include vampires, zombies, dystopian settings, etc. — compare the book to other books people are reading or to classics of that particular genre. If the book you are reviewing reminds you of another book that a lot of people have read, say so. And then explain why.
5. Quoting from the text: Readers want a taste of an author’s words. Give them a taste, but choose the passages carefully. If the strength of a book is dialogue, share a few pithy lines with your readers. If the book succeeds in evoking a distant time and place, include a paragraph that illustrates this strength. If you’re reviewing poetry, drop a few stanzas into your review that seem to represent the spirit of the whole collection….More at How to write a book review – Houston Chronicle (blog)
So there we have it – a great outline to putting together some great reviews!
Tags: book reviews