Welcome friends! I have started this entry in the global technosphere because I have been in love with books since the age of 2. Among the busy business of being a new teacher, this is my outlet for sharing thoughts on a love of reading a wide variety of books. My inspiration can be summed up with a yearbook quote from a teacher written when I was 8: "To the only girl at recess I see reading a book. Good for you!"
My blog title is quoted from a classmate who asked me this once. Believe it or not, I've also heard it as a teacher :D

Friday, August 20, 2010

How to Review Books or My Attempts at Amateur Anti-Critic Critique

On Inside the Actors Studio, host James Lipton asks each of his guests a set of questions as part of the “classroom” session at the end of each show. One question is “What profession, other than your own, would you like to attempt?” I am already a teacher, so my answer would be a book/movie reviewer. I hate the word critic, because it means something completely different and rarely comes off as a positive label. Reviewer balances the scales of justice in judging the quality of material to share ideas and benefit the public by thinking critically (aha, that’s more like it—there the word makes more sense—critique the critic!) about my printed opinions.

Before I go into how I’ll review books I read, I want to share a funny rating system I spotted on The Eclectic Reader book blog:

5 star - Best ever, a book to be buried with
4.5 star - Loved it
4 star - Thoroughly enjoyable, quite a few fireworks
3.5 star - Enjoyable
3 star - No problems putting down to get housework done
2.5 star - Disappointing
2 star - Equivalent to watching paint dry
1.5 star - Don't bother
1 star - Poke yourself in the eye with pencil

I like how it categorizes opinions about books, but I think any from 3-5 stars is considered recommendable, and where’s the vague area of “just okay” for the less than commendable, more than watching paint dry books?  So, what that being said, I think I have a simpler solution below.

A Primer for Reviewing Books:
1) I am going to borrow a colour-coding system from L’s Book Blog which I think sends a clear message at a glance:

Green= recommended
Yellow= just okay
Red= don’t recommend

I may add a comment, such as “highly recommend” or “avoid at all costs” as is the case. This will be at the bottom of each review.

2) I’ll review any books I attempt, even if I don’t finish them. The comment at the bottom will reflect this in red:  Didn’t finish. Don’t recommend.

3) I’ll give a short synopsis of the book without any spoilers and briefly give some insights about the book I really connected with, such as a description of an event, but instead of giving away an obvious spoiler, such as “The character dies,” I will simply use a phrase like “a shocking climax,” much like professional reviews.

4) Most reviews will be kept short and include:
  • Cover picture, Title, Author (duh?)
  • Published year, length, ISBN, genre
  • Links to Amazon and Chapters to purchase
  • Start date, finish date (just to show how slow a reader I am!)
  • Where From (library, Chapters, course, gift…)
  • Why Read (reason for reading it)
  • Summary (synopsis without spoilers)
  • Review (thoughts, comments, grumbles...)
  • Rank5) All books I review will be listed alphabetically by title under Books I’ve Reviewed on the right side of the page.

    Hope you enjoy the reviews…coming soon!

P.S.  On another note, does anyone have this problem with their iPod?  It's a cool phenomena, albeit a glitch:  My earbuds are probably going kaput, because when I put the L bud in the R ear (ha ha), some songs appear to have an acoustic sound and some of the instruments are clearer than usual, whereas others are barely audible.  I'm listening to "Wild Horses" by the Stones and it's so awesome to hear with my earbuds reversed!

P.P.S.  Edited:  I have a different rating system now.  See Book Blog FAQ/Review Policy.

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