Reviewing books is a pleasure for me, but also a responsibility. I feel I owe the readers of my blog and the authors of the books I read a fair, thoughtful assessment. In an effort to provide quality reviews, I’ve examined those written by professional reviewers, and researched articles for tips on how to go about it. Here are a few of the things I think are most important to keep in mind.
1. A review isn’t supposed to be a book report. Give a brief overview of what the book is about, but concentrate on your reaction to it. How did it make you feel? Were the characters believable? Was the setting clear? Was there a theme or point made that was especially interesting?
2. Don’t give away the whole story, and don’t reveal the climax or the ending. Keep the review short but helpful.
3. Assess who the target audience is and whether you think the book is appropriate in content, style, and difficulty.
4. For nonfiction, mention whether the organization, format, and style are effective for the book’s purpose. For example, if there are maps, indexes, or other features, tell readers whether they were helpful, easy to understand, or lacking in some way.
5. Give praise where it is due, with specific examples of what you liked in order to support your opinion.
6. If you have a valid criticism of the book, tactfully mention what you disagreed with or disliked, and why.
People who read reviews want an honest opinion from someone who has read a particular book to help them determine whether it is worth investing their time and money in it. Give them the help they need, in a way you’d appreciate if you were the author. Maybe, someday, it will be your book someone is talking about.
Do you read reviews before deciding to buy a book? What do you want to know about a book before you decide to read it? Do you have a favorite site for reading book reviews?