Friday, September 24, 2010

The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing by Mayra Calvani & Anne K. Edwards

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Paperback: 186 pages
Publisher: Twilight Times Books (15 Jun 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1933353228
ISBN-13: 978-1933353227

The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing is a how to guide for reviewing books. This book helps build your skills for writing a good book review. This includes how to read critically, how to rate books, prevent amateurish mistakes, and how to start your own review site.

The main point to this book is the do's and dont's of reviewing books. There are some wonderful examples of good and bad reviews. Useful tips are provided on how to avoid falling into the bad review category. Bad habits you should be preventing include basic things like grammar and spelling. To more complicated issues like avoiding sugar coated or caustic reviews.

The advice in this book is clear and simple to read. Advice is grouped into relevant chapters/sections such as five keys to being a good reviewer, reviewing; practical tips to remember, and reviews and publishers. This makes finding the information you need easy.

From what I could see I fall somewhere in the middle with my reviews, which is comforting, apparently I hadn't been doing a bad job after all. Though there is probably a lot I could do better as well.

There is valuable advice for book reviewers who are looking to be more serious about reviewing, even being a professional. It also delves into the issues such as ethics and legalities of reviewing, book blogger vs reviewer, how to start your own review website, and how to rate books.

Personally I felt some of the examples they gave made the review feel stilted and boring. I would probably be suspicious of the "good" review examples given, I would feel like the reviewer was being paid in some way for it. I apparently like a bit of amateur hour in the reviews I read, to me that makes them more believable, more honest. I like it if a review puts a little emotion in their reviews. For me a book is an emotional thing and just like people sometimes you just don't like, or you love a book for no particular reason. If you can find a happy balance for book blogging purposes I think it would work really well.

There is a good section on how to read critically. If I was more serious about reviewing this would be invaluable. However I do not like to stop reading to make notes, as for me that interrupts the flow of the narrative. Also these days I just do not have the time to do that. But I recognise the ability to read a book critically is an important part of reviewing.

After reading the book, it did make me rethink some of the reviews I am currently writing. What I could include in the review to make it more valuable to the reader of my review. Hopefully the small changes I will be implementing will be of value to those reading my reviews.

All in all I think this is an excellent book for book reviewers starting out, and even reviewers who have been doing it awhile. I found some of the tips very useful and will be working to implement them into my reviews. For anyone who is serious about their book reviews, or wants to write reviews professionally this book is invaluable. As for the rest of us it is a great resource to help hone our skills just a little more.


  1. I am pretty certain that I have seen this book blogged about before because I remember wanting to know what the title of the book was that talked about writing reviews. Never found out.

    Even if this is not that book, it does sound like there is stuff that I could glean. Many times, I think my blog posts are not up to snuff. I am certainly not a literary person in the sense of being able to pull a story apart. I go with my gut, my emotion of the read. I also don't think either or is better than the other. Anyhow, I am curious, and do indeed wonder if tweaking could be made to my posts (of course there can). I wonder how to go about doing the tweaking.

    Thanks for bringing this book to the forefront of my mind. :)

    P.S. I am certain that my comment writing could use a bit tweaking. ;)

  2. I have a feeling if I read this book it would only make me feel inadequate about my own writing!

  3. Is this available for a mother to read?

    Do you think that if you start writing a review using a formula that it will be better than writing from the heart?

  4. sallyfromoz - it is on the tgtmp(to go to mum pile). I personally dont like the formula reviews. To me they are boring.

    ibeeeg - I agree I tend to go with my gut with my reviews. I also saw this around the book blogging traps and was interested.

    I also could do better with my comments!

    Jeane - I know it made me feel a bit bad but then I thought "stuff it" I dont have the time to invest in being more "professional" in my reviews. I didn't get in this to make money but more to put my thoughts down and share it with my friends :) But there weresome tips I found useful like putting the books details in the review (like the ISBN number).

  5. Well, it's not too long which makes it appealing :) And I could probably stand to get a few tips. These days I'm barely finding the energy to get any review posted, good or bad!

  6. I'd seen mention of this book elsewhere and was curious about it. I know I could certainly use tips on how to write better book blog reviews.

    Like you, I especially like "amateur hour" reviews and the personal touches that bloggers add in. I think that's why I so often personalize my own book reviews. But then, my purpose for writing about the books I read isn't so much to be critical but rather to share how a book affected me personally. I don't ever want reading to feel like another job, you know?