Reading Time: 8 minutes
Book reviews are the most important aspect of any book-focused blog or website. Since I create the content for one such platform, I don’t want to write reviews that fall flat. So, while thinking about it, I wonder how to write a book review that engages my readers and stands out in a crowded online space. Because who wants to compete against Amazon, Goodreads, Kirkus, and the rest? Well, I do! So, here are my tips and tricks for crafting a compelling book review. Side note: The tips in this post will also help you if you need to write a book review for school.
What is a Book Review?
Before we begin, sometimes people ask what the difference is between a book review and book criticism. Book reviews are often more subjective than critical analyses because reviewers are encouraged to share their own thoughts and reactions to the books they are reading. The reviewer may go into detail about their thoughts on the book’s plot, characters, and overall impact.
On the other hand, book criticism provides a more detached and analytical assessment of the work in question. Book criticism analyzes the book in its literary, cultural, and historical setting, looking at things like the author’s choice of words, symbols, and themes. The goal of book criticism is to assess the book’s literary merit as opposed to the reader’s subjective reaction to the book. A more in-depth familiarity with literary theories and techniques, as well as the author’s life and other works, is usually required. To summarize, book criticism is often the job of literature professors and students, whereas book reviews can be written by any reader.
Why Writing Book Reviews is Important
Writing book reviews is important for two main reasons, in my opinion. First, it helps to spread the word about a book and its author. This can be especially important for authors who are just starting out and need to build an audience for their work. In fact, there are publishing companies devoted to distributing advanced reader copies (ARCs) of books to people who want to write reviews and publish them.
The goal of these companies is to obtain reviews and visibility for their clients. Examples of such businesses are Goodreads Giveaways, LibraryThing Early Reviewer, NetGalley,among others. Actually, I am currently reading The Horoscope Writer by Ash Bishop, that will be out on July 2023, sent by Sirenbooks.com. I will soon publish the review, so stay tuned on the blog.
The second reason is that book reviews help readers make informed decisions about which books to read, which is exactly the point our point here at Pick Best Book. A book review can provide readers with insight into the author’s style, the plot, and the characters. This can help readers decide whether a book is worth reading.
In summary, book reviews offer readers an insightful and thoughtful perspective on a particular book and can greatly influence a reader’s decision to pick up a book or not. As an editor of the blog, it’s crucial to write reviews that engage and entertain readers, while still providing a comprehensive analysis of the book in question. Here are some tips and tricks for writing an engaging review.
How to Write an Engaging Book Review
What to say in a book review? Writing a book review is not an easy task, but with a few simple steps, you can craft an engaging and informative review. Here is a step-by-step guide to writing a great book review:
- Read the book thoroughly and take notes. Even though this step may seem obvious, it is very important to take notes. The notes I usually take for fiction books are the plot points, actions or thoughts that build the characters, notes on style, and anything else that catches my attention. But always, always take notes!
- Know Your Audience. Now that you have read the book and taken your notes, think about who you’re writing for. Are your readers avid book lovers, casual readers, or simply looking for recommendations? Knowing your audience will help you tailor your review to their interests and needs. Which kind of reader are you, my beloved, invisible reader?
- Start with a Hook. Just like with any other type of writing, you want to grab your reader’s attention right away. Start with a hook that draws them in and makes them want to read more. You could begin with a quote from the book, a personal anecdote, or a bold statement about the author’s writing style.
- Focus on the Story. At its heart, a book is a story, so it’s important to focus on the elements of storytelling in your review. Discuss the plot, the characters, the setting, and how these elements come together to create a compelling narrative. Be sure to keep spoilers to a minimum, but still give readers enough information to stimulate their enthusiasm for reading the book.
- Address the Writing Style. In addition to the story itself, your review should also address the author’s writing style. Was it descriptive, concise, atmospheric, or something else entirely? How did the style add to or detract from the overall reading experience? One line may suffice. Here is an example of a review in this same blog that refers to the styke : The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, by Taylor Jenkins Reed. IThe reference isin the fifth pargraph.
- Offer Your Opinion. Your review should be personal and reflective of your own thoughts and opinions. Don’t be afraid to be honest, whether you loved the book or found it lacking. However, always back up your opinions with specific examples and avoid being overly critical or negative.
- Conclude with a Recommendation. End your review with a recommendation for your readers. Whether you loved the book and think everyone should read it, or found it to be just okay, be sure to clearly state your stance.
- Keep Your Tone Consistent. Throughout your review, be mindful of your tone. Are you writing a serious, in-depth critique or a lighthearted recommendation? Keep your tone consistent and reflective of the overall theme and tone of the book.
Tips for Writing a Good Book Review
While you are working on creating an outstanding book review, here are some helpful hints to keep in mind:
- Be honest. Make sure to be honest and unbiased in your review.
- Be specific. Make sure to provide specific examples from the book that demonstrate the book’s strengths and weaknesses.
- Be concise. Avoid rambling or going off on tangents. Keep your review focused on the book and its merits.
- Be respectful. Avoid personal attacks or insults. Stick to the facts and stay professional in your review.
- Use proper grammar and punctuation. Make sure to double-check grammar, spelling, and punctuation before posting your review.
- Use quotes. Quoting from the book can help to make your review more interesting and engaging.
- Compare and contrast. Comparing the book to other works or authors can help to provide context and make your review more meaningful.
- Make connections. Connecting the book’s themes to real-world issues can help to make your review more relevant and thought-provoking.
- Highlight the interesting. Focusing on the book’s most interesting elements can help to make your review more engaging and memorable.
- Explain why you liked or disliked the book. Explaining why you liked or disliked the book can help to make your review more meaningful and convincing.
What makes a Good Review?
A well-written book review should have several key components that work together to create an engaging and informative piece. These components include:
- A brief summary of the book’s plot and themes.
- An analysis of the book’s strengths and weaknesses.
- A discussion of the writing style and tone.
- Personal opinions and reflections.
- A recommendation (or not) to readers
Examples of a What Makes a Book Review Great
It’s important to strike a balance between these components, as too much of one element can detract from the overall review. For example, a lengthy summary can bore readers, while an overly personal opinion can detract from the review’s credibility.
The tone and style can greatly impact its overall engagement. A review that is written in a dry and technical tone is unlikely to captivate readers, while a review that is overly personal and informal may seem unprofessional. A good review should strike a balance between being informative and entertaining and should be written in a conversational tone that is accessible to readers.
Personal opinion and reflection are important elements of a book review, as they provide readers with an insight into the reviewer’s personal experience with the book. However, it’s important to remember that a book review is not a personal diary entry. The review should be written in a professional and objective manner. The reviewer’s personal opinions should be backed up with evidence from the book, and should be expressed in a way that is respectful to the author and their work.
Finally, a book review should end with a recommendation (or not) to readers. This is a crucial part of the review, as it gives readers a clear understanding of whether or not the reviewer believes the work is worth their time and attention. A recommendation should be, based on the review’s analysis of the book’s strengths and weaknesses. Therfore, the recommendationa should be expressed in a clear and concise manner.
Top 10 Book Review Sites
Although it’s difficult to say which are the best websites for book reviews, as taste is subjective, below are the top 10 best websites dedicated to making reviews that I recommend:
- Kirkus Reviews
- Publishers Weekly
- The New York Times Book Review
- Book Riot
Writing a great book review is a challenging task, but it can be rewarding. It can help to spread the word about a book and its author. It can help readers make informed decisions about which books to read. Following the steps and tips outlined in this article can help you write an engaging and informative book review.