- Kathryn Patterson
On Writing Book Reviews
I read. I'm not the most prolific reader I know (and yes, I'm looking at you, Julie), but I do read quite a bit. Partly because as writer, reading is part of the gig. But I learned to love reading as a small child, and I work hard to maintain the habit. When I started this blog, I wanted to share some of the book I read with everyone. I wanted people to learn about good books, bad books, funny books, and books that make me cry. So I started writing book reviews, and I learned something very important. Writing useful book reviews is hard. How do I get across that an author included some fantastic plot twist, made even better because it was subtly foreshadowed, without ruining the plot twist for the rest of the world? Even mentioning that there is a plot twist can alter how someone reads a book. All the wonderful action, characters, surprises,... I want to share it all, but I know that saying too much will spoil the book. So I end up treating books as if I am still in a college English class. I look at the grammar and vocabulary choices, the characterizations, descriptive languages, and I critique them. I end up talking about whether or not the protagonist is believable or if the antagonist seems like a Hollywood villain. I cringe inside when I do this, because reviews never turn out to be what I really want to say. Anyway, I just wanted to explain why in real life I babble on about books for hours, but online I write rather short reviews. The more that I write, hopefully the more I'll find to say that doesn't spoil a book, but still makes you want to read (or avoid) the book.