Just saw a nice post on Read.Learn.Write which goes into the methodology of writing book reviews, using my novel On the Holloway Road as a model.
I’ve never really thought about a method for writing reviews before – I tend to just give my response to the book in whatever form seems natural. That’s probably because the reviews started as my own way of keeping track of what I was reading and analysing it to improve my understanding, and although other people now read them, the style is still quite personal and informal.
Still, I do employ most of the steps outlined in the post:
- Read slowly
- Take notes
- Deconstruct the book to figure out what works
- Figure out what you would have done differently
- Decide on a rating system
Well, I don’t use a rating system on this site, because I find it very difficult to slot books into neat little categories. Plus I think that if the review has done its job, it should be obvious what I thought of it, and I don’t really see what giving a score out of five or ten really adds. When I post the reviews on sites like Goodreads or Amazon and am forced to choose a star rating, I usually vacillate, and when I look back at my overall ratings, they don’t make a lot of sense – sometimes a book with a 4-star rating is actually one I enjoyed more than another which only got 3 stars, probably because of my differing moods at the time of scoring.
But the others make sense to me. I think it’s designed for people who are just starting to write reviews – clearly there’s a lot more you could say about reviewing, and a lot more depth you could go into if you wanted to pursue it further. But as a basic five-step process, this seems pretty sound to me.
How about you? Do you follow a particular process when writing book reviews? Do you agree with the five-step process, or are there things you would add in or take out?