Thursday, January 21, 2010

Writing book reviews

I'm working my way through Barnaby Rogerson's The Last Crusaders, about the century-long clash between Christendom and Islam that lasted into the 16th century. My assignment is to review it for the February issue of the Internet Review of Books, so I need to finish soon, even though it's not a speedy read. When I come across a passage that might be worth referring to, I write the page number and the first few words of a sentence on a piece of paper. When I've finished reading the book, I'll open a Word file and start writing notes--initial impressions, then perhaps quotes or ideas from the list I've compiled. That's generally enough to get me started on writing the review.

That sounds straightforward enough, but what do others do? If you write book reviews, how do you approach the task?


Carter said...

I take notes the way you do, then put down the book and do something else and forget it for too many days, go back, skim it again, then open the word processor, write the review, and then go back over it and cut to fit. I then send it to people who know what they're doing and hope they'll tell me what needs fixing--often that's a fair amount, but the critiques surely make it better.

I don't think I know any English teachers these days. Pity.

Christina E. Rodriguez said...

I jot down notes on an index card that I use as a bookmark. Later, I'll try to work out a rough outline of my thoughts and impressions, and finally flesh it out in a few paragraphs on the computer. I'm not 100% satisfied with my method, though, and am always looking for better/more efficient ways.

Helen Ginger said...

Explains why I don't do book reviews. I don't take notes. I just read and then write a brief post on why I liked the book. I call them recommendations.

Straight From Hel