What core elements make for a good book review?
It has often been said that those who can't create will critique. Perhaps there is some truth to this but since the dawn of time we have sought the silky words of those who can paraphrase those who produce. Whether it's recommendations from our friends, the yellow paperback Cliff's Notes or the likes of Yelp, we place some value on the perspectives of others.
Key number one to a good book review
A good book review does not require a good book, but it does require a book to review. One can compose a good review of a bad book. Any effort to review should start with the goal of extrapolating any nuggets of beauty, wisdom or functionality that can be gathered from the composition of the author. Benjamin Franklin said, "Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing." A review therefore should seek to bring out those values.
Key number two to a good book review
If you are going to write a book review you must first review a book. In essence we are all reviewers, unless we never read. Yet, some of those who review and help to bring light to a book worth reading or further draw out those concepts that add value to our experiences. Stephen King states it this way, "If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that."
Key number three to a good book review
As a good book should be informative, inspiring and/or helpful, so should a good book review be. If the purpose is to summarize, do it well. If the purpose is to criticize, do it with clarity. If the purpose is to glamorize, do it with perspective. Erica Jong wrote about the anxiety of writing, "I went for years not finishing anything. Because, of course, when you finish something you can be judged." Writing and review should also be composed with charity.
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Jon Isaacson has a monthly feature column with Restoration & Remediation (R&R) Magazine titled The Intentional Restorer