Thursday, January 8, 2015

Why Review Books Critically?

Ya'll might have noticed: when I write a book review, it's a long review. Which means they normally run anywhere from around 500 words to over 1,000.

And, really, I apologize. Sort of. When I write my reviews, I seek to write out every single thought I had about the book. It's important: maybe for readers, writers, and authors, but also for me. When I write the review, it's no secret that I tend to occasionally get a tad analytic (or, perhaps, it only feels that way). I'm setting out, today, to explain why my book reviews are so critical:

Read what you want to write.

In all reality, that's what it boils down to. Everybody's heard the advice: to grow as a writer, you need to constantly be reading: books in your genre, books out of your genre. Read authors you adore, read authors you might disagree with.

If you read a book, and there's an aspect you don't like: why is that? On the contrary: if you read a book, and there's an aspect that you've absolutely fallen in love with: why is that?

It's the question I seek to explore as I write my reviews. What makes an author so successful? What parts of their book hooked me from the get-go? How did they create such a well-rounded character; or, if I thought that a character needed more work, what did I think the author left out?

Did the setting make sense? Did the narrator convey the right kind of emotion? Was the plot well-rounded? Was the pacing too slow, too fast? How did the characters interact? How did their interactions impact the plot? How did the plot impact the characters? How did the sentence structure affect the voice? How did the sentence structure affect the emotions I felt as a reader during high- and low-impact scenes?

So, personally, my reviews tend to reflect any combinations of questions like these (and many more). I try to figure out why I liked a certain aspect of a book, why I didn't like a certain aspect, and then I try to explain that.

And, you know, I hope that the reviews are helpful to the people that read them.

Simply: I want to grow, both as a reader and as a writer. Studying published books is a wonderful way to do both: in my opinion it opens your mind to the world, and to the craft, of writing in itself, and since I've been reviewing books on this blog I like to think I've been impacted at least a little bit in my own style as a writer.

I'm not going to review books in this way forever. Who knows, maybe in a few months (heck, even in a few weeks) I'll change my review style (it wouldn't be the first time). If ya'll get sick of how I write my reviews, and want me to write them in a much more concise way, just say the word (nicely) and I'll do it. I just think that, for now, this is both the best way for me to learn and to voice my opinions.

So, that's why I review books so critically.

How do you best read/review books?

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Why review books so critically? Blogger @Rae_Slater thinks it helps her grow as both a reader and a writer (Click to Tweet)

In which blogger @Rae_Slater explains her affinity for writing long and analytic book reviews (Click to Tweet)


  1. I always want to apologize because my reviews are so short. I love your reviews because they're so thorough, and it's nice to see your thought process behind reviewing. :) I don't think you need to apologize - if analyzing books so critically helps you become a better writer, you have nothing to feel sorry about. Great post!

    1. Thank you, Briana! Sometimes, even I feel winded after writing the reviews, but I really do feel like it helps me understand a book better and study the craft. So glad you liked the post!