Tuesday, 22 July 2014

How to Write Book Reviews



Ever wanted to know how to write a good book review? This handy guide is all you need ...

1. Your review should not focus on what the author set out to do when he or she wrote the book and what story they wanted to tell. Focus instead, on what you wish the author had done. Pissed off that Nora left her husband at the end of A Dolls House instead of suggesting to Torvald that they take up a BDSM lifestyle? Call that home wrecker Herik Ibsen out on his shit. 

2. Do not allow the reader to get their own taste of the book by using any extended quotes. Instead, tell them that it was TERRIBLE. (But add that you wanted to like it so that you don't sound like a bad person or that you only write reviews like this for their puerile entertainment value.) Use block capitals and numerous punctuation points to emphasise your point. Consider using half a dozen or so .gifs showing teenage actors, animated characters and animals doing stupid things to further emphasise your displeasure. Also, be sure to prove yourself as a literary genius by noting that you read almost half of Wuthering Heights last spring and by pointing out somewhere in the book that there should have been a semi-colon where a comma is placed. Do not worry if your review contains typos. That fact is irrelevant. Your only concern is the perceived, or perhaps dramatised, failings of others.  

3. Do not quote the author. Just allow everyone to take your word for it that the prose was bad and filled with errors. 

4. Focus on the small and less important details of the story. For example, if you're shocked and disappointed that the nurse in chapter six said a swear word whilst off duty--because you know that swearing is really bad and you don't want to read about it--tell us all about it and share your anger in explicit detail. Accuse the author of having a foul mouth. All the better if you can find a scene where a totally different character expresses their dislike of swearing. Then you can accuse the author of being a hypocrite or state that they are sending mixed messages. Try to add at least several WTFs and a couple more gifs. It is also important that you insert your personal set of values into the review as much as possible. It is recommended that you misread or misunderstand several key pieces so that you may complain about how bad they are in your review. Try also, not to learn or discover anything new or be challenged in any possible way by reading the book. After all, the last thing you want is to be educated or to develop empathy for the characters because, unlike you, the characters may have some flaws or strange obsessions that they work on throughout the course of the narrative. 

5. As you have now judged the book as being totally deficient cite examples of activities that you would rather do instead of reading it--such as sticking your head in a blender, swallowing an entire packet of razor blades or supergluing your anus shut and then eating an entire packet of laxatives. Make no effort whatsoever to try and understand what you did not like about the book and why it failed to inspire you. That, after all, is the fault of the author. (Who deserves to be shot and their family billed for the bullet. After all, it is a crime that this book that you got for free and are in no way obligated to keep reading or to review did not meet your expectations.)

In addition to these five rules, consider adding a sixth. Accept, as often as possible, books for review that you know there is no fucking way that you would enjoy reading so that you can complain about them afterward. And instead of putting them down if you do not enjoy them, be sure to force yourself to read every last page so that you can complain about that as well. Also never, ever pay for any of the books that you are reviewing. Go to sites like netgalley and just randomly click on a few titles (don't bother to look up the genre or description, unless you are intending to misread them) until you find a publisher who is stupid enough to approve a copy for you. Be sure to add in your review that you are glad that you did not have to pay money for this particular book. Also consider yourself to be the ultimate expert in what good literature should be and tell everyone that at every possible opportunity. Be a spokesperson for readers in your favourite genres. Berate the author as much as possible, put him or her firmly in their place as often as you can. Try to create a reputation for the book and its author, regardless of how inaccurate that reputation may be ...

Disclaimer: This list is a satire of John Updike's brilliant list of six rules for book reviewing, which can be read here.

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