Monday Musings | What Makes a Good Book Review?

Karen One More Page Book Reviews

Happy Monday! And, if you’re in Canada like me, Happy Victoria Day! I hope you’re all enjoying the long weekend! My day has been quite a productive one: I spent my afternoon at my neighbourhood Starbucks with an Earl Grey Tea Latte in one hand and a pen and paper in the other. Today’s goal? Write as many reviews and posts as I can!

Before I actually got down to writing my reviews, this question came to mind: what makes a good review? (And, subsequently, how do I write them so my readers are getting what they want to read?)

For me, I like to read reviews that are a bit more personal. I like when the reviewer ties the book into an experience they’ve had, or a fascinating interest of theirs. I want to hear how a book connects and resonates. I want to find out whether I’d have the same emotional and/or intellectual response. I also like reading reviews that make me think: maybe it raises a moral question, or maybe it introduces a way of thinking that I hadn’t considered before. If a reviewer can persuade me that the book they enjoyed will teach me something new, my interest is almost always piqued. I try to write my reviews with those preferences in mind. (Whether I succeed is largely up to you to decide.)

But I want to know: What makes a good review for you? What gets you interested in one particular review or reviewer when there are so many available online? Does format, tone, etc matter?

6 thoughts on “Monday Musings | What Makes a Good Book Review?

  1. jenp27 says:

    I agree with you in that personal connection or emotional reactions are interesting. For me, a good book review is one that provides enough information about the book to help me decide whether it is worth reading and that information is more than just a summary of the plot. A good review (in my opinion) is more than just a plot recap — I don’t want to read yet another plot summary since I can read the plot summary on goodreads, amazon, etc. I actually dislike reviews that go into too much detail about the plot because if it’s a book I want to read, I want to discover the plot for myself.

  2. Naomi says:

    When I write a review, I don’t think too much about what people want to read. Instead, I think about what I want to say. That keeps me more motivated to write, and it hopefully gives people a sense of how much I liked the book. If I’ve forgotten to mention something, people can always ask in the comments!
    As for other people’s reviews, I mostly like to read about their thoughts and reaction to a book. And, maybe things the book got them thinking about.

  3. Sarah's Book Shelves says:

    Great question – especially since there’s been lots of chatter that many people’s reviews are their least viewed posts. I went through this thought process recently trying to change up my reviews. I like reviews that focus mostly on the reviewers reaction to the book and why they did or didn’t like it. I can’t stand it when most of the review is plot summary and it also bothers me when the reviewer doesn’t really take on stand on whether or not they liked the book. I usually scan book reviews, so I recently reformatted mine to be more notes form and “scannable”. I’ve only posted a few in the new format, so I’m still seeing how it’s working out…

  4. ebookclassics says:

    Great discussion question! I agree with having a hard time with reviews that are 3/4 a summary of the plot. I usually just skim those or skip them entirely. And I also love reviews that share a personal connection or reaction to the book by the reviewer. I guess I should try do this more often in my own reviews, ha ha.

  5. sharu4ever says:

    Yes. The format and style of writing is very important. I would want to know the jist of the story but nothing more. Spoilers upset me so much. :/
    As you said.. The book review has to explain how that book affected the reader . What did they go through and felt while reading it 🙂
    I’ve just written my first review on PS I still love you. Check out if you can 🙂

  6. Ashley McKernan (@AshleyMcKernan) says:

    My BIGGEST pet peeve in terms of book reviews are tiny reviews – reviewers who only write a paragraph for their review. Drives me right up the wall. If I follow you, I want to get an in depth review of the novel or at least some personal thoughts. Generic one paragraph reviews bother me SO much, it’s literally my biggest pet peeve.

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