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25 March 2016

A Book Review Routine

Do you have a particular process you go through when writing book reviews?

I realized the other day that I do! It wasn't really a conscious thing, though (at least up until I started thinking about it). But I had to make a semi-complicated flow chart for a particular process at work, and I realized that I totally do the same kind of thinking when I'm writing reviews here at LSoaL.

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First, I read the book — obviously! Can't really write a review if you don't read the dang book. If I DNF it, I typically just leave it at that... unless I got pretty far into the book and DNF'd for a specific reason, in which case I'll do a quick star rating plus maybe a few sentences on Goodreads.

I almost never take notes while I'm reading. It's disruptive for me, personally. There are a few exceptions, though. If I'm reading something that takes a lot of concentration and I want to really study it (or at least be able to marginally understand it), I'll get out a pencil and do notes in the margins. Otherwise, I rely on my memory when I get ready to sit down and write the review.

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Next, I assign a star rating to the book. Some people don't really do/get star ratings, and I totally respect that. But for me, it's a great at-a-glance way to express my opinion. Sometimes I ramble too much or can't think of all the right words for my review, but that star rating can instantly give the reader an idea of whether I'd recommend the book or not.

After doling out stars, I try to write at least a couple of paragraphs about why I did or didn't like the book. This can be a little bit of a struggle sometimes — no way would I ever be able to cut it as a professional book reviewer -- but the writing process is a pretty good way to clarify my thoughts. It also helps me remember the book later on! I have a pretty awful memory, and often without these reviews I would not have a clue about most of the books I read even just last year.

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The third part of my review process is really just bloggy stuff. It's important to find a good cover image — usually I prefer to share the actual cover of the edition that I'm reading, but sometimes I resort to a different edition's cover if I can't find/take a nice picture. Then I get all the metadata straightened out (full title, author, publisher, pub date, list price, that kind of thing). I always include a little FTC disclaimer at the end of each review, plus a little note about where I obtained the book. If the author has a website or has done some interesting interviews or something, I share those links as well.

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I know a lot of people don't really read book reviews on blogs. That's OK! But many of us just go on writing them anyway. It seems like many (most?) reviews are really more of an exercise for the blogger rather than the reader, with the obvious exception of advanced reviews/blog tours/etc. that are meant to promote an upcoming release.

So... what about you? Do you approach your book reviews in a particular way, or is it more of a by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of thing?

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