A friend asked me recently how to write a book review that goes beyond whether or not they liked and enjoyed the book.
Having posted some time ago about things to avoid when writing a book review, I thought it high time I wrote something more positive and helpful in the interests of helping people review books more confidently.
A good book review doesn’t have to be long or academic.
Using everyday language is absolutely fine. You don’t have to write like a professional reviewer or an English teacher to write a meaningful or helpful review.
Some websites where readers post book reviews require a minimum length, which gives you room to say whether you enjoyed the book and why. One or two sentences will do the trick. There is no obligation to write any more than that if you don’t wan to.
If you do want to write more, try these ideas:
- Why did you like or dislike the story?
Remember that others may like what you disliked, and vice versa, so always try to be kind. Feel free to say a book wasn’t to your taste – and try to identify why – but avoid comments like “this sucked” or “I hated it”. They are not helpful.
Similarly, “Best. Book. Ever!” is of limited use if you don’t say why.
- What important ideas did the story make you think about?
Themes such as love, anger, justice, revenge, pain, fear, overcoming… anything that is relevant to you or to a lot of people are helpful points for comment.
- Were the characters likeable? Where they relatable? Why or why not? Was there something we could learn from them?
- Did the writer’s style impress you in any particular way? Were there images or word pictures that you liked? Did it make you laugh, or imagine vividly, or feel genuine emotions of one sort or another?
- Was it easy to read and understand, or did you have to really work at it?
- What other kinds of people might appreciate the book? Think about interests, age group, and genres or categories here.
Remember that every book is unique, so some things will be more
Writing about ideas like these will help you to write a review that is interesting in itself, and will encourage the right readers to choose that particular book. In that way, you’ll help both the author and prospective readers at the same time.
This will also help you to avoid retelling or summarising the story and giving spoilers that might put prospective readers off or make them feel as if they no longer need to read the story to find out what happens.
The Everyday Person’s Guide to Writing an Excellent Book ReviewTweet
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