Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Paperback: 186 pages
Publisher: Twilight Times Books (15 Jun 2008)
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.