Not to toot my own horn (well, absolutely to toot my own horn, because this is my blog 😛) but one of the things that I feel I’ve really learned how to do well in the two years I’ve been on here is write book reviews. I’ve received a ton of compliments on my reviews – both from fellow book bloggers and authors – and quite a few of those compliments included people asking me how exactly I write my reviews.
Today, I answer that question!
Take note of what you liked.
Obviously, this is the first and most important step of writing a book review. You need to figure out what exactly is it about the book that speaks to you. Is it the writing? The world-building? Perhaps the author made use of a trope that you’re fond of? Did you fall in love with the characters or ship a couple particularly hard?
And the best part about this is that taking note of what you liked about a book doesn’t necessarily have to be about its objective characteristics! Did the book make you cry? Did a scene make you clutch your heart and squeal like a little girl? Did you want to throw a book at the wall when you finished because it made you feel things? Did it remind you of your childhood? Did it make you feel like you were watching a movie in your head?
All of these are valid observations about why you liked a book! When you begin thinking to yourself – hm, you know what, I’m enjoying this! – take that opportunity to note down what in particular you’re enjoying at that moment. And there’s no absolute correct way to do this! Some people keep notebooks at hand while they’re reading. Others just type stuff down in the notes app on their phone or bookmark their e-book copies. Some annotate with colored tabs, highlighters, pencils, etc. Still others are okay with just making mental notes. Whatever method works for you, use it!
Take note of what you didn’t like.
I find that the reviews that really pop for me are those that also take the time to talk about aspects of the book that they weren’t particularly fond of. It can be something as small as a certain aspect of the world-building, character development, a plot point, the romance or lack thereof, or even feeling like a book would have worked better if characters were aged up or aged down. In my opinion, it makes the review seem more genuine and less of a cut-and-paste gushing affair.
But whether or not there was anything about the book you disliked, always keep in mind my next tip.
Always ask why.
This, I believe, is the key to really good and insightful reviews that are truly convincing. You need to always be asking yourself why. You liked this part of the book? Why? You disliked it? Why? Examine your feelings, your thoughts, your biases, and do your best to transfer that to your review.
It takes time and practice to be able to articulate the answers to these questions. But you’ll never get to a point where being able to do this will come easy unless you get started!
Get other opinions.
Talking to other people who’ve read the same book – or even browsing other reviews on Goodreads and other blogs – can really help you articulate your own thoughts. I know I’ve always written my best reviews after a quick discussion with some of my fave fellow bloggers! Sounding out your thoughts, hearing what others think, and even just seeing your opinions echoed by other people could be just the jog that any writer’s block needs, and before you know it you’ll have more than enough material to fill up several book reviews!
Outlines are the way, the truth, and the life.
Before you get started on that book review, make sure to have an outline on hand. Jot down the bare bones of the message you want to telegraph to your readers, and make sure you end with a conclusion that wraps everything up. It’ll make writing your book review much easier if you have a list of all the important points you’d like to make!
And the best thing about outlines is that they work not just for book reviews, but for all kinds of blog posts, and even scripts for YouTube videos! Non book-related protip? They also work amazing for research papers. 😉
Let me know what you thought!
☕ Have you already tried any of these tips for writing a book review?
☕ What are some of your favorite ways to write a book review?
☕ What do you think about book reviews in general?