Hi Virtually Readers! It’s Shanti, your favourite blog writer (apart from Shar). I feel like my posting schedule has been aaalllllllllll messed up lately, but I was away on a school trip and I had a lot of work and I’m leaving again tomorrow. But a question has been tearing at my mind as I try to motivate myself to write book reviews (and also look at a handy document on my laptop called ‘blog post ideas’): What should be included in a review? I know it’s early in the week for serious talk, but let’s discuss!
So the first thing is fairly obvious: I think that a review should contain some element of description of what the book is about. Personally, I usually make this a bare bones sort of thing in my review, leaving the blurb (or goodreads) to do the describing. A couple of people have pointed this out before, so if for whatever reason I’m writing a review for another setting, I’ll adjust for that. But it’s important that your readers have some idea of what you’re writing about, especially if they’re going to read it themselves.
The second important element is your opinion. This is what makes a review yours, and what you can uniquely offer a reader. How did you feel about the book? Did it change the way you see the world somehow? Did it teach you something? What did you like, and what didn’t you like? When reviewing, it’s really important to share your opinion. Do so politely (don’t say “curses should be rained on the author from the heavens because they must be a terrible person to write such a horrible book), but without negating your opinion, because the reason that we read and presumably you write, a review is to share your opinion (no-one wants to read “well, I loved this book, but that’s just me, I mean you might hate it, it’s all my opinion”) It’s a review and we know it’s your opinion, don’t worry. (though I get that internet people can be horrible to you for your opinion at times)
The third essential part, according to me, is specific examples. If your review just said: “This is what the book was about and I liked it” no-one is going to read it. Be specific! You liked the character relationships? Which ones? One character irked you? Why? It can be useful to use quotes, especially if you’re talking about the writing style, but that’s sort of up to you. Whatever you say though, be specific. Specificity is like evidence, and it’s really useful for anyone who’s evaluating a book (or your review!).
This was sort of covered in the opinion part, but whatever you’re writing, be passionate about it. You should care about your review, even if you didn’t care for the book, and you can show that to your readers by expressing your emotions (considerately), and writing a good review (whatever that means to you—it’s totally a matter of opinion). This can mean adding gifs, or capital letters, or whatever form your enthusiasm takes. Putting a review out into the world says that you care about it, so show that to your readers.
The book blogging community lives and breathes reviews. We love to read them and write them. These are what I look for in reviews. It matters to me that I know about the book, and I know why, specifically, you liked it. But reviews can take many many many different forms, so it doesn’t matter how you do them (or even if you do at all).
So what do you think are the essential elements of reviews? Did I cover them? And if you write reviews, let me know what your process is like!