Do the one thing you think you cannot do. Fail at it. Try again. Do better the second time. The only people who never tumble are those who never mount the high wire. This is your moment. Own it. ~Oprah Winfrey
Do you rulers indeed speak justly?
Do you judge uprightly among men?
No, in your hearts you devise injustice,
and your hands mete out violence on the earth
(Psalm 58:1-2 NIV).
If you are a reader, you should write book reviews.
- It will help you remember the books you’ve read, and whether they’re worth rereading.
- Your feedback helps other readers decide whether they should invest time and money to read a particular book. (I confess I read one-star reviews to find out what other readers found objectionable. Admittedly, some people are just hard to please; but often, when I read an unfavorable review, I recognize I wouldn’t like the book either.)
- Your comments help the authors know how you felt about their books, and what they might improve upon in the future.
If you are a writer, you have a responsibility to write reviews. Other authors are not your competitors; they are your colleagues, your community. You benefit from interacting with them. Your insights about their work help them. You know how exacting the writing life is; you’re in the trenches. Your response is even more revealing that what non-writing readers give.
Here are some things you can include in a book review:
- Tell what the book is about, without revealing the entire plot (or in the case of nonfiction, all the conclusions) or spoiling pivotal twists.
- Tell what the author did well. If you like the book, mention all aspects that made it a winner for you. Even if you didn’t like the book, share at least one thing that was good—an intriguing title, a diverse cast of characters, the brevity of the chapters.
- If you were disappointed, explain why. What were you expecting that the author didn’t deliver? Was the ending unsatisfying? Were there typos or factual errors that distracted you? Were the characters undeveloped? Be specific.
- Make whatever recommendation you can. Maybe the book wasn’t your cup of tea, but fans of chick-lit would love it—say so. Or maybe give an age range: “I feel the subject matter was too intense for 6-year-olds, but teenagers could handle it.”
- Compare it to other books, either other ones the author has written, or others about the same topic, or books in other genres. “It’s like Gone Girl, but in a parallel universe.”
- You may want to take notes as you read, or write the review immediately after reading the book. I can’t tell you how many times I need to do a quick reread while reviewing, because I’ve forgotten key events or names of characters in the book a week later.
When you’ve written your review, send it out into the world.
- Submit it to publications that carry book reviews. This is a tricky market to break into, but if you do, you can get steady work.
- If you have your own blog, publish it there (I post my book reviews on my Books Read page)—or offer it as a guest post on a review blog.
- Publish it on your social media—you may have to pare it down to fit a specified number of characters.
- Post it as a customer review on Amazon or BarnesandNoble.com, and/or on Goodreads.
Now it’s your turn. If you are an author, do you read your reviews? Do you appreciate a review written following the tips above? What other advice would you offer to reviewers? Please share in the comments below.
Gorgeous artwork that will make your creative fingers itch to make more.
- The pigeon who picked poppies.
- Drawings that convey a story of loss.
- You’d swear these were sculptures, but they’re not.
- Do you like clouds? You might want to join the Cloud Appreciation Society.
- You know that thing you’re dreading doing? Here’s how to get started.
- Beautiful zentangle holiday wreaths. (Including some by yours truly.)
- A brief tour of San Francisco in sketches.
- Lovely Christmas ornaments you can make.
- I loved reading this profile of Certified Zentangle Teacher Margaret Bremner, whose work I admire.
- Portrait artist makes realistic pencil sketches in one hour.
- The secret life of seeds.
- The majestic beauty of traditional Iranian architecture.
I have a recommendation for you. If you have access to Netflix and you’d like to see a different Santa movie, watch Klaus.
Thank you to Textile Ranger and Deep in the Heart of Textiles for the directions to these breathtaking ornaments.
I have always been the family’s go-to recipient for things they no longer wanted, but deemed too good to throw out. As a result, I have bags of sewing notions and boxes of supplies for making miniatures.
At the International Quilt Festival this year, one of the booths displayed a small metal dress-maker’s form clothed in lace scraps. I adapted that idea to the supplies I had on hand, to make some textile angel Christmas decorations.
Here are the supplies I used:
- porcelain doll heads and hands
- spools for the bodies – I used Gutermann spools, with the thread-locking base removed
- pipe cleaners for the arms
- scraps of lace, ribbon, seam tape
- double stick tape
- tacky glue
(If you want to use similar porcelain doll heads, Factory Direct Craft looks to be a good source. I haven’t purchased anything from them myself, because I am already covered up with these things.)
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