Monday, September 6, 2010

ON BOOKS ~ Tips For The Reviewers...

Tapping a Pencil
Image courtesy Rennett Stowe via Flickr

I just finished filling out my ballot for the annual Book Blogger Appreciation Week. We are not a book blog so I didn't enter our blog for any categories. But I did sign up so that I could be part of the voting process since I spend so much time hanging out in the book blogging community. The BBAW is a great way to find exciting reviews and commentary from blogs new to me.

That said, I have scaled back on the book blogs that I follow these days. The only ones I follow are ones that do more than just reviews, or that present their reviews in such a unique way that it captures my attention every time. Otherwise the blogs and review posts just all run together in my brain. I like reviews that briefly summarize the book without spoilers. I tend to enjoy seeing the cover image, because I may not remember the book's title or author, but I often recognize a cover when browsing online or in person and it triggers my memory of wanting to explore it more.  I also appreciate a link to buying the book somewhere for easy shopping or more detailed research.

I like to know why the reviewer read the book. What is their back story? Is it an old favorite? Does the subject matter have a personal draw? Did someone give it to them recently? Is it part of a tour or an ARC? Oh - and I like to know what all those bookish acronyms mean by the way. People always assume that their readers are all in their circles and know what the heck they are talking about. When I first discovered book blogs, I kept seeing ARC this and ARC that and assumed everyone was really excited about Noah's time at sea. I had to google ARC to learn that it stood for Advanced Review Copy.

I like to read about honest opinions - good and bad. I also like to hear about the books that were given up on. But I need to know WHY they did or did not enjoy the book. Tell me more than that the writing was crap. Tell me why the writing was crap. What other works would it compare it to? Why was the character annoying? Was there too much detail, not enough detail? Was it just too sad of a subject matter? Or maybe it was hysterical. Why did it cause such laughing fits? This helps me take their input and make a decision that works for me.

So as I went and voted this year I kept all of these things in mind. It is the same method I use to add or drop book blogs from my feed reader. Nothing personal. But at least now you know why.

If you would like to have a more detailed discussion about how you write or read book reviews, or why you start or stop following blogs in general, stop by on Friday, 09/24 @ 8:30PM ET. We'll be hosting our first ever live chat in Bumble Town right here on our blog. Let us know if you plan to take part.

17 comments:

Lisa said...

Nice to know what readers are looking for in a review. I try to remember to say why I'm reading a book but it's good to have that reminder. And I have to admit that I don't always stop and make sure that I'm not using jargon that non-bloggers will not understand. I'm going to have to be cognizant of that.

Florinda said...

I'm really glad you posted this! I recently posted something about wanting non-book bloggers to read and enjoy my book posts, and this gives me a few things to keep in mind in order to meet that goal (I try to do some of them already, I think).

Glad you're planning to participate in BBAW!

Kathleen said...

You've just raised the bar for me when I write my reviews and commentary.

kaye said...

I like your criteria--very easy to understand. One reason I comment on a book blog is if the blogger is a regular visitor on my blog. I've met some wonderful people and been introduced to some wonderful books. When I'm looking through the reviews I usually just star the books I'm interested in reading without commenting. I must confess my "book blog" is pretty boring and not visited very often. But I'm ok with that--I really started it as a way to keep a record of what I read.

Zoe @ Playing by the book said...

Wow. Lots to think about here even if, on the whole, it distils much of my approach to reading reviews. I have to say, in filling out my ballot for the Book Blogger Appreciation Week I learned a lot about what I like and what I don't - so many of the blogs were new to me and it was a great way of focussing on what I look for and value in a review.

ds said...

Thank you. It's been a while since I "reviewed" (if it's proper to call them that) a book on my blog, so I'll keep your points in mind as I get to the next one--which will be soonish on a book rather difficult to distill into a few paragraphs. But that's the challenge, isn't it?

cardiogirl said...

Way to go! I like all of your suggestions but most of all the cover image of the book is a MUST.

Nice suggestion.

Molly said...

While I consider myself a book blogger, it has been so long since I have reviewed a book that I have probably been kicked out of the community :)

These are excellent tips and I hope to participate in the online chat on the 24th. It is on my calendar anyway.

Anne said...

Finally know what ARC means hahaha... XD Thank you for the tips! =)

Kaye said...

Great tips, Molly. I'm going to put your points in my blog tips folder. Thanks for your wonderful insight.

Sandy Nawrot said...

That is awesome! I really struggle with reviews. I get bored with myself, and I feel that I boring everyone else that is reading it. Sometimes they just fly right out of my fingers onto the screen, and other times it is like pulling teeth (like right now). I think everyone needs to read these tips honestly. I think 80% of reviews need to be shorter, and I want to know how the reviewer feels, not a blow-by-blow of what happened in the book. (BTW, I'm glad you decided to be a part of the BBAW. I think you need your name in there somewhere...)

Margot at Joyfully Retired said...

Excellent post. It's great to know what things you are looking for in book reviews. I find this very helpful. I'm going to use your points to double-check my reviews. I put the chat down on my calendar. I'm looking forward to it.

stacybuckeye said...

Oh no! I'm going to need to re-write all of my reviews based on your criteria.
I don't and won't review a book I gave up on. I do like it when other people tell me why they gave up on something, but there have been plenty of books I did not like until well into reading. If the first third was awful but the rest of it was perfect and I gave up on it the Did Not Finish review wouldn't really be all that accurate.

Gwen@ChewDigestBooks.com said...

I try to do all of what you suggest except I suck at giving comparisons. I think maybe it is because I read such a wide variety.

I read a post a few weeks ago that some readers of a book got all hot and bothered because it was compared to another author that they liked. (They didn't agree with the comparison) That makes me a bit nervous to try it as well.

Will try to remember the chat!

Lynne said...

I write my reviews the way I like to read others'. Short and to the point. Tell me in a few sentences what the book is about and whether or not you iked it. I also like to know why a person chose the book. Not sure why I care, but I do. Which is why one of my subheadings in my reviews is "Why I Chose."

Thanks for the tips. Love your blog.

Jeanne said...

Boy, do I agree, especially about telling why--or giving evidence to show why!

Beth F said...

Great post! I try to remember that not everyone reading my blog is a book blogger, but sometimes I forget. I love the feedback on the reviews.

I never, ever say why I read a book -- it never dawned on me that it would be of universal interest. Hummmm.

You've given me a lot to think about.