So the new year has started, and along with the new year comes a new reading list.

One of my goals for the upcoming year is to read two books each month…(have decided that my reading forty books is probably not possible since last year I finished one)…and write reviews.

In a previous post I listed a few reading challenges that we’re starting this month…

  • All About Austen..Read or watch anything inspired by Jane Austen.
  • Back to the Classics 2017...Discover and enjoy classic books you might not have tried, or just never got around to reading.
  • Christian Reading Challenge.
  • Foodies Read...”Do you read books about food? There are books about food in so many different genres. Cozy mysteries set in bakeries…Romance books set in tea shops…Nonfiction books about the history of ingredients…CookbooksMemoirs from chefs or waiters or people who just love to eat…
  • Full House Reading Challenge 2017...Complete the Bingo card of challenges with fiction or non-fiction books
  • Netflix and Books Challenge. This is going to be a yearly challenge focused on watching television shows we’ve been wanting to get to (both new and old), and reading books we’ve been wanting to read that match some fun challenge prompts
  • Reading Assignment Challenge... Commit to reading 1, 2, 3 or 4 books a month and make a list of the specific books you will read each month.
  • Share-a-Tea Reading Challenge…This challenge is about QUALITY and not quantity. It’s not about reading fifty books or even twelve books. This is an anti-rush reading challenge. Enjoy where you are in a book, and, engage fully in it. Live in the book.
  • Victorian Reading Challenge...More than any other time in modern history, the Victorian Age saw the most change to European and American societies. Many agrarian, rural communities transitioned

One of the criteria for many reading challenges is writing a book review, but having not read many books other than the Bible since graduating college twenty years ago, much less written a book review…I felt that a quick English class would be a good idea before diving into the covers of my bed and diving into the covers of a book…

The purpose of a book review is to evaluate recently-written works and give readers a sneak peek at what the book is like.

The first step of writing a book review is to choose the right book …Being honestly interested in a book will help you write a strong review. (See previous post, The Good Book.)…

Next you should get to know the book…

1.  Book Jacket/Cover/Printing…

  • Does the book jacket provide any interesting details or spark your interest in some way?
  • Are there pictures, maps, or graphs?
  • Do the binding, page cut, or typescript contribute or take away from the work?

2.  Genre:

  • What type of book is this: fiction, nonfiction, romance, poetry, youth fiction, etc.?
  • Who is the intended audience for this work?
  • What is the purpose of the work?

3.  Title:

  • Where does the title fit in?
  • How is it applied in the work?
  • Does it adequately encapsulate the message of the text?
  • What does the title promise the book will cover or argue?

4.  Author

  • Who is the author?
  • What else has s/he written?
  • Has this author won any awards?
  • What is the author’s typical style?

5.  Preface/Introduction/Table of Contents

  • What does the table of contents tell you about how the book is organized?
  • What does the preface promise about the book?
  • Does the author provide any revealing information about the text in the preface/introduction?
  • Does a “guest author” provide the introduction?
  • What judgments or preconceptions do the author and/or “guest author” provide?
  • How is the book arranged: sections, chapters?

Now read the book…

Try to read from the vantage point of your audience—actively and critically—not simply to discover the author’s main point or to dig up some facts.

As you read, take notes on the book’s key points and any particular passages you might discuss in the summary portion or background structure of your review.

Finally write and publish your review.

Write the summary. Keep your summary brief. People honestly are more interested in what you personally thought about the book.

Begin with a couple of sentences giving a short summary of what the book is about. Limit your review to only the first couple of chapters. Be careful not to give too much of the story away.

Now share enough of the main ideas and main characters to help your readers decide if reading the book would be worth their own time. Needless to say, you will not be able to cover every idea and character in the book.Deal only with the most important ideas and characters.

  • What is the main idea of the work?
  • Who are the main characters?
  • Who was your favourite character, and why?

Give your honest opinion of the work.

1.  Positives

  • What did you particularly like about the book?
  • What was your favourite part of the book, and why?
  • What are the book’s strengths?
  • What worked well for you?
  • Did the book make you laugh or cry?
  • Did the story grip you and keep you turning the pages?
  • Did the book appeal to you on an emotional or logical way?

2. Negatives

  • Was there  anything that you disliked about the book?
  • Did you wish there was a different ending?
  • Did you find it difficult to understand one of the main characters?
  • Was the story too scary for your liking?
  • Was the story too focused on a theme that you didn’t find the book interesting?

3. Reader Appeal…

  • Does the book reach the intended audience adequately?
  • Will some readers be lost or find the text too easy?
  • What type of reader would you recommend the book to?
  • Were certain types of scene—such as sad scenes, tense scenes, mysterious ones—written particularly well?
  • How clearly is the book written?
  • How would you describe this author’s particular style?
  • Is it accessible to all readers or just some?

4. Read-Alikes

  • Are there any books or series you would compare it to?
  • Is the book is part of a series?
  • If so, do you think you’d need to have read other books in the series to enjoy this one?

5.  Conclusion

  • Does the book fulfill its purpose?
  • How well does the book fulfill the promises the author makes in the preface and introduction?
  • What rating would you give the book?
  • Where can other people get the book—publisher, price of the book, year published, and ISBN.

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