Guest post contributed by The Book People
If you're an eager bookworm, then the chances are you probably get through rather a lot of reading material. If that is the case, then why don't you put it to good use by telling the rest of the world just what you've been reading and what you thought of it? Book reviews offer a useful insight into whether or not a book is genuinely worth reading - so if you've read a book and you want to shout from the rooftops about or, alternatively, you want to advise people to avoid it like the plague, writing a review could be a very worthwhile activity. Here are just a few reasons why you might want to write a book review.
1) You've read a great book and you want people to know about it - as we've just mentioned, when you read an amazing book then the chances are you don't just want to keep it to yourself. You might feel, for instance, that the book hasn't received enough attention - or perhaps a fair hearing - from critics in the mainstream press. If you feel that strongly about it, then you can always set the record straight by writing a review of your own.
2) You've read a terrible book and want to warn others - it's also true that those of us who are resolute readers have probably encountered more than our fair share of awful books over the years. It might be a good idea, therefore, to write a review so you can warn others to avoid making the mistake you did by reading a particular book. Again, perhaps your opinion is at odds with that of mainstream critics - and thanks to blogs and social media, it's easier than ever for you to at least try to redress the balance a bit.
3) You want to boost an author's profile - it may be that you feel you've discovered an individual author whose output hasn't been getting the attention it merits from mainstream critics. Writing your own reviews therefore gives you the opportunity to promote that author, although there are a few caveats you should bear in mind. For one thing, you should remain strictly impartial, prepared to acknowledge any flaws you find in an author's work as well as their strengths. Furthermore, you should also avoid reviewing books by authors you know personally, as you may find it hard to be objective in your assessments.
4) You want to work on your own writing skills - analysing, reviewing and critiquing books is a skill in its own right, and the best way to hone this particular skill is through practice. It's worth remembering, of course, that planning your review in advance can be very useful in this regard. List a few key criticisms of the book and build your review around them. This should help you to ensure that your review is clear and concise - because if it isn't, you're likely to find that nobody will bother to read it through to the end.
5) You want to hone your reading comprehension - it's probably fair to say that even the most dedicated readers often find themselves skimming through books from time to time. Reading a book with the intention of reviewing it may therefore encourage paying a little extra attention, meaning that you get more out of the book than you would have done otherwise.
Post contributed by Rachael Pegram and Tom Blackburn in collaboration with The Book People