I am writing my first book review for the world to see.My normal reviews are oral and intended for a one on one audience. My dialogue, mannerisms and excitement level (or lack there of if I didn’t care for the title) is all tailor fit to the person that I am speaking to.
Now I’m lost. Where do I begin?
Do I pick a book that the masses will love because then the more people that like the book will look favorably on my review and by extension me as a writer? And once I do finally pick a book how to make sure that it its not a stale book report that we have all written in 9th grade English? For this, I looked to The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing.
As I am writing this first book review in tandem to this post I feel that I’m losing myself, and the review, to the facts more than the feelings about the book or why I wanted to tell the blog community about this particular book. I have decided to step back. What makes a great book review?
I know that it has to have all the usual suspects: title, author, genre and a synopsis of the book. When I tell people about the book I’m reading I do cover all those things but I guess that I’m struggling with that the only visual is the static picture of the book and my words. Is that going to be enough to make you want to read the book? Will you care enough to come back and tell me if you liked it?
I’m going to paint you a picture. A picture of me sitting at my cluttered desk, sorry for the clutter I should have cleaned a bit. Paper, a half eaten truffle bar that I now feel sad that I didn’t finish, bills that are ready to be filed away and my cell phone that chirps at me every few seconds driving me nuts.
In that sentence you have a review on my life of writing. My organizing system is chaos, which is one step up from sheer madness, I regrettably let my cell phone run my down time that I do have and I contemplate eating chocolate that has been sitting on my desk.
To write a great review is just to paint a picture. Weave the story of the book in with how it made me feel and the journey that the story took me on. Did the book remind me of another? Did it make me cry? Am I too scared to read the book at night? Most of all the review has to have me in it. As the reviewer I am the story teller now. I need to immerse myself in the words and the story because that is what a great review does.
There is no template to fill in. No dot-to-dot to follow. This is a new story that the reviewer has created. A connection to the book and the next person that reads your words.
If writing a review still poses some struggle there are books that give more detail and depth to writing book reviews. In my search for a title that would impart as much information The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing by Mayra Calvani and Anne K. Edwards is an award winning book (Reference Non-Fiction 2011 Global eBook Awards and Winner in the category of Writing in the ForeWord Magazine 2008 Book of the Year Award) that covers all areas of a great book review. It shows me exactly what to say if a book is recommended, or if it isn’t. No one likes negative reviews, but if it’s because it’s not your ‘cup of tea’ you’ll have to plan to share it in an objective way.
From purpose of the review to effectiveness this book has made me look at reviewing as something that I am able to achieve.