What Makes a “Good” Book Review? | Let’s Talk


-good- Book review

Every book blogger out there writes or reads at least some book reviews. And often, we come across one really good one that makes us go “Ooh!” and we drop everything and stare at that beautiful piece of work. Am I right?

You need to write a good book review, or the very least a passable one if you want to to be a book reviewer and a blogger. Goodreads, Amazon, and other similar sites have a place to add your own thoughts and a review as a contribution. But what factors make a book review “good”? And is there really such a thing as a “perfect” review?

Let’s start by compiling a list of things that can make a book review good and worth reading. These are the factors and points that make me “like” a book review on Goodreads or on blogs.

Giving a feel of what the book is like

If I’m reading a book review, I want to know what the book is like. Is it happy or is it a little melancholy? Does it deal with serious topics lightly or is it heavy with emotion? Writing a book review is a little like writing a book—you have to show, not tell. Instead of saying “this book made me sad and happy”, the same can be implied by saying, “this book was a whirlwind of emotions”.

Discussing the characters

Characters can either make it a favourite or ruin the book for a reader. From personal experience, I can say that many times I’ve read a book where the storyline is just okay, but the characters are written with such precision and such depth that it makes reading the book worthwhile, too. Is the protagonist strong, brave and determined? Or is he/she always complaining and has no sense of right or wrong? Include these little details about the characters, without spoiling the book. Talk about what makes the characters great to read, or if they spoil the book.

Talking about the little things: writing style, mood, etc.

When I write book reviews, I focus on the writing style of the author too. Sometimes if the book is slow-paced, it is not always the best to read when you are in a reading slump, and if the book is too fast-paced, it can make the book more eventful and the reader more inclined to pick it up. Pay attention to the little things and try adding these small things you notice into your review—incorporating these is essential because every reader differs from the other. I might enjoy books with serious undertones and a more formal writing style, whereas another person prefers books with an informal relationship with the reader, like in a diary.

Pouring your heart out

This doesn’t have to mean inserting in every GIF possible; telling the readers what you feel about this book, about each aspect of it can help them determine if they’d enjoy it, or if it is not something they would like. Also, sharing your feelings makes the book review even more genuine and only adds to its originality. Along with a feel for the book and the characters, I want to know what the reviewer felt while reading the book, and after reading it. You might think including that little detail (the fact that the book made you want to rip it into shreds and deposit the pieces into the depths of Tartarus) is not that important, but it is. I don’t want to have to read the book only to find out that I’ll only be feeding Kronos, right? (Is this a bad joke?)

Expressing yourself properly

A good book review can either make you want to read a book or cross it off your TBR shelf, so it’s important to be precise when you talk about the book. Be honest, but don’t bash the author and let all your feelings out. This co-relates with pouring you heart out and making the book review a place where you don’t have to worry about what others think: the review is about YOUR feelings and opinions, so communicate them and don’t leave anything out! A review can also be “I loved this book so much, it’s my favourite!”, but the more you express yourself, the more your review becomes yours.

Making it original, making it yours

The only important thing in a book is the meaning that it has for you.

-–W. Somerset Maugham

As mentioned above, originality is key. You want the book review to say something about the book, but a little something about you as well. By making it yours, you are adding personality to it, and it’s no longer just a bunch of words. In the end, a book review is only what you make of it, and just writing about your feelings towards a book is a review too! Whether you only write about how you felt, or if you include every detail possible, it is still a book review and the person who reads it will be affected by it. Remember, your thoughts and opinions matter.

In my personal, opinion, there isn’t really such a thing as a “perfect” book review, but I’ve seen some book reviews that come pretty close and these are some things that I’ve noticed and that I do and want to incorporate in my writing too.

*Note that these are just my thoughts and opinions and it’s a topic of discussion. I don’t mean to say that everyone should do this or follow this. This is only a discussion post.

This is my first discussion post! Did you enjoy it? Is there something you’d like to add to the discussion? Did I miss a point? Leave a comment below 🙂

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15 thoughts on “What Makes a “Good” Book Review? | Let’s Talk

  1. “You want the book review to say something about the book, but a little something about you as well.” – I love this! I sometimes feel like some book reviews (some of mine included) are too technical and focus too much on the technical aspects of the book itself and not on you as the reader and how you felt reading it. Great post!! 😀

  2. Pingback: October Wrap Up and November TBR | The Most Pathetic of Them All | The Enchanted Book

  3. Something I struggled with when I first started blogging was trying to not make my book reviews sound like an English essay or being to plot heavy. But awesome points, Parneet! I think the reviews I’ve enjoyed more are the ones where I can see that the blogger formulated their own, unique opinions or had some personal connections to the book.

    • I struggle with that too, and even though I think I have improved since I started writing reviews,there are always mistakes that can be made. Sometimes I end up writing a summary instead of a review so I have to start again 🙂 I agree with you—my favourite reviewers are ones that not only write a structurally correct review, but one that has personal opinions in it. I love knowing what they thought about the book. Thank you!

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