Yes, you can write a book review!

Insights into writing a book review:  (Sherry’s version)woman.writing1 

March 15, 2014

 I read a lot of book reviews from a variety of sources – New York Times, Washington Post, library journals, Goodreads, – as well as soliciting my friend’s and colleague’s opinions.  It has been my job to select fiction in public libraries for the last 15 years.  A few years ago I was asked to write reviews for the Portsmouth Herald (  No professional experience,  so I just started writing.  Over the years, I’ve refined the process to the steps below and because I was asked by a colleague to describe the process, I wrote them down.  Not inclusive, not intellectually derived, not intended as a treatise or the last word on the topic, but merely guidelines.  Would love to hear from other reviewers…… 

  • Make notes while you read of poignant passages that stand out. (sticky notes are lovely for this purpose)
  • Begin to write – anything that comes into your head – as if you were telling a friend about the book.
  • Write until you run out of things to say.
  • Let it sit.
  • Revisit and edit.
    • Make sure you have included an outline of the basic plot.
    • Name names (characters).
    • Name places.
    • Setting – time.
    • Intersperse quotes from the book (2-4).
  •  Add author bio at the end and mention other books written by this author.  Provide a link to the author’s web site or blog.
  •  Most importantly let people know what *you* thought about the book– what other books does it remind you of.  Why did you love it?  Why did it come up short?
  • Be honest but don’t be over-negative.
  • Although I wouldn’t read reviews before you write yours (because you want original thoughts) I would add a link to the NYTimes or insert a quote from Booklist, Kirkus, etc.
  • Mine are usually between 750 and 900+ words.    A-woman-using-a-laptop-co-007
  • Again set aside the draft.
  • Read through for continuity, readability and finalize.
  • I don’t usually do this – but have a friend read it.
  • Hit  SEND or SUBMIT before you change your mind!
  • You can always revise on a blog.


Sherry Evans, Head of Public Services, 3.15.14

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