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Entries in Book Reviews (1)


Book Reviews - Love 'em or Hate 'em??

I have been writing book reviews for a few years, and have been reading them for as long as I can remember.  From the “big time” reviews in such prestigious publications as the NY Times Book Review to features in weekly or monthly magazines, I’ve enjoyed reading reviews of books, many of which I will never pick up and read for various reasons:  time, interest, or a poor review.  Although one poor review won’t stop me from reading a book that interests me, if I see a trend toward the negative, the book won’t be at the top of my “must read” list.

There is a delicate balance when writing a book review between writing a book report and writing a review.  A plot synopsis is key to letting readers know what the book is about, but that synopsis doesn’t have to contain every little detail of the story.  I have read too many reviews lately that sound more like an elementary school book report:  “And then, this happened.  And then, that happened.”  Why would someone bother to read the actual book if the plot is laid bare in a review?  It’s simply not necessary to spoil the readers’ fun by detailing every plot twist in the review.

A book review should contain information that will allow a potential reader to make a decision to read or not read that selection.  If the reviewer finds certain areas weak, say so.  But don’t say “The story disappointed me when on the last page it was revealed that indeed the butler did kill the ingénue.”  Arghh!   If Susie loves Todd but Todd loves Barry and leaves Susie at the altar to run off with him, I don’t want to know about that startling plot twist before I read the book!  Let me find out for myself.  Please!

What about you, readers?  What do you like to see in a book review?  Do you want loads of details about the plot, or just the facts, ma’am?  Do you expect a review to sell you on a book, or simply let you know as objectively as possible that you should spend your hard-earned money and time devouring the selection, or leave it on the shelf?  How does a book review weigh on your decision to go ahead and read (or not!) the book you are contemplating?  This reviewer would love to know!