The Review of Books – Take 1!

I am bad at writing book reviews.

There, I admitted it.

I have never been good at it. Remember back in elementary school, when you had to write book reports?  Simple things, right? “The book was about this, the main character was so-and-so, I liked this, I disliked this.”

Yeah, nope. Not so simple for me. Probably some of it is my anxiety, and some of it is that anxiety tied with self-esteem that is so worried that I’m going to be WRONG. I did manage to write an annotated bibliography for some of the research books I used for part of my undergraduate thesis without too much trouble but, beyond that, I’ve struggled.

And I would like to write more reviews. When I read awesome books I would like to share how awesome the book is because I know how important those reviews are for authors, and for marketing books further. When I have a book out I hope that people will write reviews for me, so I want to be doing the same for others.

But I sit and stare at the blank box on the screen and freeze up. I read other reviews, eloquent ones that give brief summaries without giving anything away, that talk about the things that were awesome about the book, and anxiety and panic sets in.

It’s ridiculous, but it’s where I’m at.

But I want to change that.  So this year, since I’m undertaking a number of reading challenges and working on my writing, I figured it’s a good year to push myself.

They don’t need to be long. They don’t have to say anything profound. But I figure I might as well give it a go.
So, throughout the year I’ll be posting little posts, likely with multiple reviews in one post (because it’s less pressure on one that way!)  And this post… this is my way to tell you what I’m going to be doing, to help hold myself accountable.

But I also wonder, what do you find helpful in reviews? What kind of things do you look for?  What kind of things do you like to write in them?  What kind of things do you not like?
65692Just a Geek – Wil Wheaton (completed 1/9/2017. Read Harder – Memoir by a Celebrity.)

Not being a hard-core Trekkie, and a casual Wheaton follower on the web I think I maybe would have gotten more out of this book if I were a bigger fan — and if it were more recent. However, I really liked the look into the struggle he had to find his place and what he really wanted to do, and that fight with depression/anxiety/proving himself. That part was very relate-able.

 

36013042Percy Jackson and the Singer of Apollo – Rick Riordan (Completed 1/16. Read Harder – A one-sitting book).

I guess, technically, this is kind of a short story – but I bought it as an ebook, and read it in one sitting (my commute), so it counts.  This is listed as Percy Jackson and the Olympians #5.5, which means I’m completely reading it out of order. I mean, I’m entirely up on Rick Riordan’s writings – I’ve read them all (well, okay, all of the things he’s written since the first Percy Jackson book – I haven’t delved into his earlier works yet), own them all (many of them even in hardcover) and consider myself a fan. But this one just got released as its own short story recently, so I had to transplant my mind to a time before the events of the Apollo books took place.

Once I made that shift, though, I enjoyed this story. It’s a fun little thing, a bit of classic Riordan humor, some interactions with Percy and Grover that we haven’t gotten to see in quite a while. And it is a SUPER FAST read.

 

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10 thoughts on “The Review of Books – Take 1!”

  1. Book reviews don’t have to be complicated, I think. After all, we are not doing them to get grades. Instead we are writing them to share our thoughts on what we have read – something we would do if we were talking to someone.

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    1. Even though I’ve been out of school for some time now I still find myself bucking up against that concept. Right, it’s not for a grade… it’s to share my thoughts about the book, and I can totally do that. I might try to pretend I’m just telling a friend about the book, that does help make it easier to write.

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  2. Those reviews sound fine to me. I have read so many online lately that veer from presenting every tedious detail in a sort of retelling of the whole story, to simply opinions, to some that sound like the tasty blurb on the back of the books that are used to lure us in. I think just wwriting what you want works great!

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  3. Ha, I basically said the same thing on my blog today, that I’m terrible at writing reviews. And I think you may have stumbled across my problem–self-esteem. I worry I’m going to be wrong, or someone will disagree. I wonder why I have such a problem with people disagreeing with me? Hmm… Anyway, same problem. But I think your reviews here sound great! We are entitled to our opinion and need to be confident in expressing it however it comes out. I’ll keep telling myself that and trying to believe it!

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  4. I used to be nervous about being wrong in reviews too. Practice and experience have mostly gotten me over that, but I also consciously focus on the positive. You’re not wrong if you say you enjoyed something and explain why, plus that’s just the kind of review I like to write — why give attention to a book I didn’t like? I have gotten more comfortable making negative comments as I’ve had more practice and read more books, because I feel like I can make more specific comments beyond “I didn’t like it.” (That’s still a great jumping-off point though — you’re not wrong if you say you didn’t enjoy something and give your best guess as to why. You can’t be wrong about your own experiences.)

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    1. I think part of the struggle is wanting to be able to help out my indie-writer friends (and those I adore). So I want to be able to write MEANINGFUL and USEFUL reviews.. and sit there and go “why will anyone care that I say “I thought this books was awesomesauce.” But I need to get over that hurdle and, like you said, just practice. One of my quiet-goals is to write SOMETHING about every book I read this year. Even if it is just a “I liked it” or “Not my cup of tea” kind of thing.

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