How to: write a *readable* book review

Happy Saturday, everyone! Today we’re talking about how to write a readable book review! Reviews are great and most bloggers post them at least sometimes. But as a reader of a lot of reviews, I know what types of reviews I’m likely to read and which I’m likely to skip over (or not read as thoroughly).

Quick disclaimer: I’m not trying to say that I’m an expert or the best at this, by any means. These are honestly just things I’ve found work for me, and that I wanted to know when I started my blog.

Additionally, a lot of this is personal preference. Some people like super detailed reviews. Some people like quick, short reviews. Everyone is different. These are just some things I have found make me more likely to read a review, which is ultimately one of the points of writing a review.

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Utilize point-first writing

I’m channelling my writing professor here, but honestly, point-first writing is the best. The general technique is very easy: what’s the point of your paragraph? Put that at the beginning of the paragraph. Essentially, you want the point or message to be the first thing people read. So your paragraph should look something like this:

[message] [support/evidence/additional information sentence #1] [support/evidence/additional information sentence #2] [support/evidence/additional information sentence #3] [concluding sentence if needed]

Here’s an example:

example

That way, people know what you’re trying to get across. If you struggle with point-first writing, try moving your conclusion sentence to the beginning of the paragraph (especially if you have a science background).

You can read more about point-first writing here! It’s made for lawyers and law students, but the tips are the same for everyone.


Highlight important parts

This is similar to point-first writing, but highlight the important part of reviews. When I write my book reviews (and most posts), I bold the parts I want people to read. And sometimes when reading book reviews, that’s all I read. BUT those parts can help me decide whether I want to read the book or not.

Ask yourself: what do you ultimately want people to know? That the characters were great, the plot was slow but you enjoyed it, and the writing was sub-par? Then highlight the sentences where you say those exact things. Then someone skimming your review will get the gist of it.


Put a summary, but don’t rephrase what the book is about

I like to put the Goodreads description of the book at the beginning of the review, but then don’t restate that. I personally find it annoying when I go to read someone’s review and it’s [Goodreads description] [two paragraphs restating what Goodreads just said]. It just makes them tedious to read.

Also, put the book cover in the post! I usually put it with the summary. Putting the book cover helps people identify the book. And, as we all know, we do judge books by their covers. I’m more likely to add a book to my TBR if it has a glowing review with the cover.

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Organize your reviews!!!!

If you want to talk about the characters, put everything related to the characters together. It doesn’t all necessarily have to be in the same paragraph, but adjacent paragraphs. This makes it so much easier to read reviews!

Monika puts her reviews into writing, characters, plot, and overall, which makes it so easy to read her reviews. If I want to know what she thought about one aspect, I know where to look.


Similarly, separate the good from the bad

I like starting with what I enjoyed about the book, then dividing it somehow and talking about what I didn’t enjoy. I don’t always put things in bullet points or under headers, but it’s useful to space things out. It makes it easier for someone reading your reviews. Rachel, for example, doesn’t usually separate her reviews into different sections, but if she has issues, they’re normally in the same paragraph or adjacent paragraphs. It makes it easier to follow the flow of the review.

Rebecca generally categorizes her reviews into what she liked and didn’t, which makes her reviews SO EASY to read. Also, when writing reviews, it can be easier to organize your thoughts that way. For books I have a lot of jumbled thoughts on, I like separating it this way.

If you had nothing bad to say, then say “honestly, I didn’t have anything bad to say!” When I’m reading reviews, I like to know what the positives and negatives were, and if one of those is just missing, I assume the reviewer forgot to write it.


Include some sort of rating

I know star ratings can be controversial, but having some sort of rating system really helps. Hannah puts a one-sentence verdict of her thoughts, like “Fun, fast-paced, surprisingly deep“, which is so useful. Jasmine does a pros and cons section at the end of her reviews, which is a great way to summarize the big points of your review.

Even just try having the first or last line of your post be something like “I really enjoyed this!” or “this was an okay read”. It’s useful for readers to know what your overall thoughts were. Sometimes I read a whole review and think ……okay but did you like it? Especially if someone points out flaws or things they liked. I can bitch about something for three paragraphs, but ultimately still love the book. So having something that indicates your level of “liking the book” is so useful.

I generally put a one-sentence summary at the end, so that if you’re just skimming the post, you still get the gist. Something like “Overall, I enjoyed the writing and the plot, but found the characters annoying”. I also like to include whether I recommend it, and for whom. I also like to put a tl; dr in my tweets of the review, so people on twitter will have a general understanding of my thoughts on the book.

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So those are some of my tips for how to write a readable review! What are yours? Are there any bloggers that you think have really readable reviews? Let me know!

If there’s anything you want me to cover, let me know and I can do my best!

Thanks for reading! xx

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47 thoughts on “How to: write a *readable* book review

  1. I used to bold the things I wanted people to see, but decided about a year ago that I didn’t like it. Probably because my husband told me he thought it looked stupid, but maybe because I thought it looked busy and confusing. I might start doing it again, though, because I agree that I am more likely to read (not skim) reviews that give me something to latch on to.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL that’s fair! I do find that sometimes, depending on how much bolding and where the bolding is, posts can look too busy. It’s all about finding that balance. I feel like one sentence every one or two paragraphs usually works fairly well

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t bold sentences but I do include sub headings so they break up the text and make it look less of an onerous task to read. I am now practicing at short rather than long paragraphs for the same reason. We tend to skim read more on line so you need white space…

    I’m with you on finding using Good reads synopsis to be annoying, especially when the reviewer then goes on to repeat a lot of the same info.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sub-headings and short paragraphs are the best, too! It makes everything way easier to read if there’s smaller chunks of text.

      YES why bother putting the Goodreads synopsis if you’re also going to summarize the plot?

      Like

  3. Thank you for all these great tips! I also highlight important parts/words of my review often because it’s easier to skim reviews. Adding a one sentence summary at the end is such a good idea and I might just end up starting to do that!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you so much!
    The verdicts are something that I started and didn’t realize would be so difficult to keep up with. For some books it is SO difficult to find one – and I have used such brilliant gems such as “ugh” which don’t say all that much.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Nicole! 💕 And same!! I’m a big fan of shorter, concise reviews, and I’m way more likely to read those ones than really long ones (unless it’s a rant review. I love a good rant review, tbh).

      Like

      1. LOL, rant reviews can be a lot of fun. And they’re also easier to read than long non-rant reviews! I think it’s because they read more like speech than a lot of more traditional reviews do.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Such good advice here! I feel like sometimes my reviews can be pretty disjointed because sometimes after reading a book my thoughts are such a whirlwind it’s a struggle to turn it into something readable. I do try and make sure my paragraphs are on different topics though, haha! But sectioning my reviews is something I really don’t like doing because sometimes I don’t have much to say on some things but a lot to say on other things, it just doesn’t really work for me. I do try and have a sentence at the beginning of my review that describes my thoughts/feelings on the book and I put important words/sentecnes throughout the review in bold to give people more of an idea of how I felt about this book. I definitely have a long way to go in perfecting book reviews though!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much, Ruqs! ❤

      I totally get that! Sometimes I just ramble on about a book and then later am like "….. that makes no sense." And SAME about the sectioning! Sometimes, I just don't have anything to say about a section?

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I followed Sarah’s link to this blog post and I’m happy I did. I’ve been revamping my reviewing style over the past few months and these tips are really useful. I recently started separating the good and bad but I hadn’t thought to bold some of the more important sentences 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I did study at science and when I started my science journalism point-first writing is one of the things that they had to instill in me. It took some getting used to, but I think I’ve modestly got it now. Mostly😄

    Really useful post by the way. I’m just considering writing my first Book Review post and honestly didn’t know how to even start going about it. Thanks for the help.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s so hard to do, sometimes! I feel like I’ve gotten better, but I still have to think about it. I’m so glad science is embracing it, though! It makes everything way easier to read.

      Thank you so much! ❤ I'm so glad it was useful, and I hope it helps in writing and posting your first review! I'm definitely cheering you on 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, it was great of you take what you’d learned and used used it to help others. News is news. Even science news needs to grab your attention right of the bat. Probably more so than other news.

        It will definitely help. Thanks for the cheering 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m so happy I stumbled across this post! I only started my blog yesterday and made my first review! After reading this I’m gonna take some time later to edit and adapt my first review,
    So thank you so much for these brilliant tips really going to help me with my future blogging ☺️☺️

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’ve been thinking a lot recently about starting to write book reviews and this post has really helped me to understand how to structure them! So hopefully with these tips the first one I write wont be a total fail…Thankyou!!

    Liked by 1 person

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