Before Goodreads.com stole my heart and made my book reviews easy to search and find, yours truly would write book reviews in a paper journal.
I realized that my book reviews are more frequently written when I think I’m helping people, so they needed an audience. Goodreads provided that audience.
The problem with writing book reviews online on someone else’s website is that they can shut it down and your reviews no longer are available to you. Before that day comes, I plan to retrieve them from online and print them in a book.
Of course, when I would review a book in a paper journal, there was no need to worry about someone shutting it down, nor plugging in a machine, nor checking for battery life on a mobile device. One could just open the journal and write.
Whatever your reason for reviewing a book, whether for yourself, or for others, or a bit of both, the following tips might prove useful.
While Reading the Book…
- While reading the book, enjoy yourself. Let it wash over you. Note the parts that excite you, surprise you, bore you, etc.
- Depending on how thorough you want to be in your review of the book, if you don’t mind writing in the margins, you can keep some notes there. Yours truly is known to argue with the author in the margins. I tend to remember those parts of the book when I do.
- You can also deploy a variety of bookmarks to return to a page to recall a quote you want to include in the review. If you don’t mind slight residue, sticky notes might help you return to the various pages of interest for the review.
- Once you’ve reviewed books for a while, you start to recognize the highlights that you usually discuss in your reviews. Review notes might become unnecessary to recall what you want to say.
- Caution: When reading books becomes all about the review you’re going to write later, reading can become a chore that is all about “getting it right,” whatever that means. Under such circumstances, one might stop having fun when reading. If this happens, take a break from reviewing and just have fun.
Organizing the Book Review Journal
- The headings for your book reviews can be as simple as Today’s Date, Title, Author, and Review. Keep space in between each heading, leaving the most space for the Review.
- However, if one is inclined to greater detail, one can include quotes that stand out to you, publisher, date of publication, ISBN, date you started reading, date you finished reading, etc.
- As with any of the list journals, writing the same subject headings down every time might prove tedious. Consider printing out the subject headings and pasting them onto the journal pages ahead of time.
- There are any number of ready-made book review journals on Amazon, Etsy, your local bookstore, etc. They save time on the subject headings.
- You can create different sections in your book review journal and seperate the reviews by genre or other differences. E.g. Reviews of fiction can be written in the latter half of the journal and nonfiction in the front.
- Another way to organize is to alphabetize the journal to write book reviews in order of book title or author’s last name. E.g. Space your journal into sections such as A through D, and only write about novels from Lynn Aaron to John Duke in that section.
- You might create different journals for different genres and save yourself the time of sectioning off your genres in one book.
- Reviewing audiobooks can be a difficulty for those of us who listen to them while doing something else, like washing dishes. We might not always recall what we liked about it in detail. However, if you can pause the audiobook when a thought intrigues you, and ruminate over it for a while, you might find that the most important parts of the audiobook will be readily accessible to your conscious mind when you are ready to review it in your journal later.
- Consider an audio journal for reviewing audiobooks. For instance, if you are listening to an audiobook on your phone and have an intriguing thought, switch over to the voice recorder on your phone and record what you think. Push pause on the voice recorder and resume listening. Rinse and repeat until you are satisfied.
However you choose to organize your book review journal, have fun with it.