Like many authors before me, my publishing journey began as a reader. Although my mother claims she once had to force me to read, I (thankfully) have none of those horrifying memories.
In 2011, I took my love of books to the next level by starting a book blog, On a Book Bender, where I continue posting reviews today. My reviews have changed and grown with me, but they’ve become more important as I learn how to write fiction.
Even if you never publish your reviews anywhere, learning to be critical (not negative, mind you, but analytical) about the books you read helps you understand how other authors apply the same principles you’re learning.
I find it impossible to evaluate my own writing for its level of suspense, for example, because I know what’s coming next and I rarely worry about my characters. But I can read other suspense books to see how well (or poorly) the author develops the suspense in their novel.
Reading books is important to an author, but taking it a step further by reviewing the book can boost your writing considerably. Reviewing books has taught me what I like and don’t like about protagonists, dialogue, plot lines, and character development, all of which I’ve applied to my own writing.
Analyzing the books you read can make you a better editor, too. When you break apart a book to see how an author has woven in back story, for example, that’s a tactic you can apply to your book in either the writing or editing stage.
And yes, books you don’t enjoy can teach you as much as books you do. Sometimes it’s easier to see what’s not done well than to see what has.
Reviewing books isn’t easy at first. You have to transition from reading as a reader to reading as an author, and those occupy different head spaces. But it can teach you a lot about writing and story telling.
Do you review books? Why or why not?