How I review books


Hey everyone. So I thought that I would finally do a little discussion post. I have done a little video on the exact same topic incase you prefer to hear someone speak than to read a never ending post.

You can watch the video here:



But if you would rather prefer to read the post then just keep reading!

HOW I REVIEW BOOKS

There is no set way when it comes to reviewing books. There might be a basic structure that people like to use but they always tend to add their own little flair like quotes or gifs for example. Reviewing is a niche activity. You can argue that it isn't, but really it is. Out of all the people who read books, there are a couple of people who review books. And out of those reviewers, they tend to have their own take on how books should be reviewed. 

It took me a little while to find my own unique way of reviewing books. I started out using the basic structure mentioned earlier and then slowly but surely I found my way. But let's jump into a little bit of history before I explain my reviewing process.

Back in 2015, when I was in my tenth grade year, we were given an assignment. We had to read and review a book. Reading was not a problem for me at this time because I was already reading something like four books a month. But it was the reviewing that had be stop and take a closer look at the assignment. I had never reviewed a book before. It was a new process. I obviously discussed whether or not I liked a book with my friends but putting my thoughts on a piece of paper and having other people read it, it was a new concept to me. 

At the time that this assignment was given to us, I was about halfway through The River of No Return, which is a huge book especially since I had the big paperback. It was massive and bigger than any other book that I had ever read at the time and I just knew that it wasn't going to work for the assessment. 

A couple weeks earlier there was this huge sale with Exclusive Books where every book was twenty rand. Which was super cheap for Exclusive Books. At this sale, I picked up a book called Neptune's Tears by Susan Waggoner, along with about thirty other books (you can watch the haul I did here). It was short and sweet. I knew that I could manage it. But boy was I wrong. It took me so long to get through the book. It was a complete fail at getting through a book quickly. 

So there I was, the night before the assignment was due, thinking of what I was going to do. I had to review a book. Any book, as long as it wasn't a kiddies picture book. I sat and sat and sat. 

Then I had a sudden realization that there was one book that I knew back to front. Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini. I had finished this book about a month ago and I still remembered everything as if I had just finished it. I grabbed the book and started to feverishly write my book review, following the set guidelines that the teachers had given us.

I actually got a good mark for the review. It wasn't an A but at the time it was kinda good for me. 

It was from the moment that I was writing the review like the world was about to end that I realized that I actually really enjoyed it. My fear of writing my thoughts down was no longer terrifying. I knew right there and then that I should start something. I should start or a blog or whatever people did to get their reviewing career going.

Up goes my blog, Youtube channel, Instagram, Twitter and Goodreads account. There it was. Abooktropolis was now a real thing. Something that belonged to me

I had saved my review for the moment that I was ready. It was my very first review. Unfortunately, it is no longer available. But it was a big mile stone for me.

In the beginning, I wrote my reviews using the basic format and didn't add anything special to it to make it my own. I didn't like that. It felt too not me. I remember reading somewhere that your review should contain information that you look for in a book whilst you read it.  So the next book that I picked up, I started to read a little bit more critically. I wrote little notes to see what I ended up focusing on. 

I focused on four topics. What I thought of the book before I read it. The writing, the plot, the characters and what my thoughts where at the end.

  • Pre-reading Thoughts
Using this allowed me to see what I felt before going into a book. Was I naive, was I persuaded by all of the hype etc. It allowed me a quick glance at my pre-book thoughts.
  • Writing 
It turned out that I payed a shit ton of attention to how fast I was reading, how easy it was to get into the book, how vivd was the description was, the diction and so on. It was so weird on how much I seemed to focus on this little aspect. 
  • Plot
I don't really think that I have to explain this because what is a book without a plot. It was also that I saw a lot of book reviewers thought of. 
  • Characters
I am a huge character person. It is an important element for me. There are definitely times when characters make or break the story for me. The plot and the writing could be out of this world but if the characters aren't good, you can say good bye to at least three stars. Because a characters are what make a book worth reading for me. There would be no plot if there wasn't a character. 
  • Final Thoughts
 I wanted something that just expressed how I felt at the end of it all. Was it a good book? What stood out for me the most. I also wanted a place where I could summarize my thoughts. Something that I could use in my Goodreads review without giving too much away. 

It was because of this method that I learnt how to become a critical reader. I also ended up using some of the skills and techniques used in class year after year.

Reviewing is not and will never be an exact art. Your reviews will grow and change when you do. Never be afraid of voicing your opinion. It is okay to like a problematic books as long as you are aware that it does have some problems. It is okay to hate a popular book that everyone ended up loving. It is okay to say that a book is problematic. It is okay. And if something bad happens from you voicing your opinions, there are people who will stand up for you. No matter what.

Yours in Reading,

Melleny

P.S. I'll be doing a post on how to review a book soon!

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