I tell aspiring writers to write book reviews when their first getting started. But I think it’s a good idea even when you’re a professional writer.
Why Write Book Reviews
Many of you know I’m trying to make my living as a writer. Like, the professional kind. It’s something I’ve wanted for a long time and am only (really) growing into now.
Part of the reason it’s taking so long is because there is so much to learn. And a larger part of it is because I have a lot of fear associated with the whole thing.
So I’m taking steps to conquer my fear, because I really, really love writing.
One of the steps to achieving this goal is by writing book reviews. Here are a few reasons why I write book reviews (and why I think you should too).
Reviewing books keeps me reading
Hear me out. When you read a book for pleasure what do you do? Maybe you’re resting on the couch, letting the sunbeams lull you into a cozy, dream-like state. (Ahh.) And you read through your book of…OK it’s probably not that deep, let’s just admit it…whatever and have an enjoyable morning. And hopefully you find more moments like these to sprawl and enjoy your time with your little escape-pod of awesomeness. And that’s super!
But where do you go from there?
Nowhere. You either give the book to someone else, or donate it to the thrift store. The book goes away and your relationship with it ends. You find another book and repeat the cycle again.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with consuming words in this way. But for me it stopped working.
I found I couldn’t justify escaping into a book, not when there’s so much else to do, so I stopped reading.
I know, right? Because when you’re a writer you simply must read. Voraciously. A way I found around my problem was to try reviewing books. It got me reading but it also gave me a writing goal—the review. So I was reading, then writing and publishing. Perfect.
My writing improves through composing book reviews
Perhaps this should have been my main reason for getting into book reviewing in the first place but it’s a happy bonus nonetheless. By writing book reviews I have to really think about what I’m reading and form arguments and opinions about the book.
Going through this process it’s safe to say I’m more thoughtful as I read (and more forgiving in some instances). As well it’s helping me notice more. I look deeper into what the author was trying to accomplish with her/his story. I ask more questions: Did s/he have an agenda? Do I agree with the premise? What can I learn from this story?
I write down things I like about how the author forms sentences, or develops characters. And I write down things that don’t work for me.
These lists often end up influencing my writing. Like I said, a happy bonus.
By reviewing books, I’m meeting more writers
Crazy, right? Writers by nature are solitary creatures. They hunker down alone in their dimly-lit offices (well, mine is anyway) and refuse to come out until their deadline is met. Ish.
So imagine connecting with other real-life writers? Wouldn’t that be amazingly social.
If you’re a writer you know how difficult it is to talk about writing with non-writers. Because people who don’t write don’t get it. And that’s OK. But you need someone to talk to and that someone is probably another writer.
It was what I needed, anyway. And I found by reviewing books I was starting to hear from writers through Twitter and Goodreads. They’d ask me about the book I read, or thank me for reviewing their book (gasp!). I started meeting people and eventually have joined communities of writers. People just like me!
I love my friends, but having a community of like-minded people to talk through writing stuff with has really upped my game. And I have book reviewing to thank (in part) to that.
This list is incomplete but I wanted to address the main reasons why I write book reviews since I’ve had a few questions in that arena. Sure I want to expose readers to new books and help authors further their careers but neither are my motivation behind taking the time to do this. Mostly, I’m doing it for me. To keep reading, to further my education, and to stay connected to the writing community.
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