Several years ago, SUNY Geneseo created National Book Review Month to “give readers an outlet to bring lesser known works to the forefront.” This year, NaRMo falls in March, so if you’ve read a book recently (of any genre, including “including children’s books, drama, non-fiction fiction and poetry”), you can go to the NaRMo website and submit a review for publication there. The only real rule is that the review must be between 100 and 1,000 words, though the website does have some great tips for crafting a review.
Although I’m not a book blogger per se, I’ve been talking about books since the very beginning of this blog seven years ago. To my mind, there are three main reasons I write reviews of books.
First, to help other readers. This seems pretty obvious. Reviews can help people decide whether they want to read a book or not, which is especially useful when they are going to be spending their hard-earned money on it by buying it. I personally like to read the 2 star reviews of books on Amazon, because those tend to have more specific, useful critiques than the one- or five-star reviews.
Second, to help the authors. Many independently published authors depend on reviews on blogs as well sites like Goodreads and Amazon to entice new readers. When a book only has a dozen or so reviews, every one counts. So every time I read something by an indie author (often one of my blogger friends), I make sure to review it somewhere to give them some free publicity.
Last, to help me. Part of the reason I started this blog was to have a space for my thoughts on books and other media. Reviews are sometimes a way for me to process what I read, as well as an outlet for me to share my thoughts. Like an internet-wide book club or something. I do try to avoid spoilers in my reviews, but sometimes I dive a little further into analysis than a proper review does. I also like to do brief reviews when I don’t have too much to say about a book.
I’ve definitely learned a thing or two about reviewing books over seven years. I can’t even claim that I’m good at it now, and I’m certainly still learning. Here are a few things I’ve picked up since that first review.
- Give a picture of the book cover. Not only does it give your post some visual interest, but it also helps people remember the book better if they come across it again. Of course I prefer to take a pic of my own copy if possible, but most of the time I just end up using an image of the cover art.
- A short summary is helpful to give some context of the book. I’ve been using snippets from Goodreads summaries recently (with attribution of course).
- I like to review both books that I know many people have read (so I can have a discussion) and also some that I know will be new to readers (so I can convince them all to read it, and then have a discussion). I also tend to stick to the sci-fi/fantasy genres here on the blog, though I do go outside that occasionally for a special book.
- For trilogies or series, I will often write only one review for the whole thing (though I often focus on the first book, which helps avoid spoilers). Since I’m not a book blogger with ARCs or anything, my reviews aren’t usually about current releases, and I’m not sure that anyone wants to read a review of just the third book of a trilogy from five years ago or something. If you haven’t read the first two already, what’s the point? And if you have read the first two, but not the third, by now, well, that seems weird, too.
Okay, I’ve babbled long enough. Do you guys enjoy writing book reviews? Will you participate in NaRMo this year? I’m going to try to post a review for NaRMo next week, as I’ve read several books recently. Have you guys enjoyed reading my reviews? Even better, have you read any books because I recommended them??