Rachna Contractor is Associate Editor – Reviews for Plenitude Magazine, and has written about literature, art and culture for Xtra and Kala Magazine as well. She earned her BA in Art History from the University of Toronto. After a decade of working in communications, Rachna has moved to the culinary arts sector.
Rachna gave the guest talk – and co-hosted, and co-edited this blog! – at our July 2016 event (Queer Night!), and here provides eight tips for writing a thorough book review.
Eight Tips for Writing a Thorough Book Review
1) Use accessible language and keep it succinct: 700–1,000 words isn’t a lot with all that needs to be covered. Stay away from academic or conversational language.
2) Structure your review well:
a. The first paragraph should be an introduction of the book including the author’s name and title in the first two lines;
b. Ensure the review flows well by presenting information in an organized manner, separating points by paragraph;
c. Conclude with your general impression of the book.
3) Talk about the characters: do they read well, are they well developed, are they relatable, likeable, do you believe in them and their stories?
4) Talk about the use of language, grammar, and punctuation–especially if the way they are employed stands out.
5) What is your opinion of the book? How does it make you feel? Include this throughout: by the end of the review, the reader should have a general impression of how the reviewer feels about the book.
6) Sometimes it’s hard to be critical of a work because you want to support it. We want all of our published stories to do well, but it’s okay to not like a book and critique it. It’s also okay to see how it may be valuable, if not to you then to the literary world and the community.
7) Stick to the work at hand. Don’t include what others are saying about the book.
8) Read a lot of books. I don’t read book reviews but I stay abreast of what’s happening in the literary community.
Check back after our September event for more tips from our next guest speaker. See you again soon at full of beans Coffee House & Roastery, 1348 Dundas St. W., Toronto!