Thursday, February 3, 2011

Writing Reviews for Readers' Advisory by Brad Hooper

In Writing Reviews for Readers' Advisory Brad Hooper, the Adult Books Editor at Booklist, offers new and aspiring book reviewers pertinent advice for writing reviews that people want to read. He describes the difference between reviews and criticism and in which setting each is appropriate. In today’s busy book industry, knowing what new books have to offer is invaluable to librarians and booksellers. Pre and postpublication reviews are how book providers and book readers make many of  their selections.

Emphasis is placed on writing short (around 175 word), concise, prepublication reviews meant to advise book providers. No matter the length, Hooper gives several enlightening tips on what a good review should include. For instance, Hooper advises that a good review “judges a book only against others of its ilk” (48). In other words, don’t judge a book by Danielle Steel by comparing it to one by Edith Wharton. Each author is a leader in her own genre and deserves to be compared to herself, to her own works. Good advice, right? There’s more where that came from though at times I wished Hooper went a little deeper.

Writing reviews is tricky and challenging. How do you write a review for a book you didn’t like? What aspects of a book should you highlight? Keep in mind Hooper’s advice is meant for writers reviewing for a specific audience with specific needs and not book blogging. However, I’ll be attempting to apply Hooper’s advice as I continue learning how to review. The next step according to Hooper is to read books, read reviews and write!

Publisher: American Library Association, 2010     Pages: 96
Rating: 4 Stars     Source: ILL through UI Libraries


  1. I struggle to write reviews that don’t all sound the same, so this is a book I could really use. Thanks.

  2. I'm in a Readers' Advisory class this semester, so this book sounds really interesting to me! I write reviews for my personal blog as well as my library's adult and teen blogs, and I'd love to read what advice Hooper has.

  3. With all the discussion of whether or not reviewers should write negative reviews or rather *how* to write negative reviews, this book is very timely. I try to explain why I did/didn't like a book as well as highlighting a few things that I think the author did well. I'm always learning how to improve my reviews. Thanks for directing us to this book. I'll definitely check it out. :)

  4. Writing reviews for books I don't like is easy. Writing them for books I love...almost impossible.

    I do write reviews which base on how much I enjoyed the book. Period - end of story. Of course there is some comparison (otherwise we wouldn't know what's good and what's bad) and then there is what the book promised to be (historical fiction) vs. what it's actually is (a fictional story taking place in the past).

    By the way - where is the list?

  5. I like the point about comparing a book only to others of its kind. Sometimes people have a difficult time judging a book because it is impossible to compare Junior Fiction to a classic, but I think we (knowingly or unknowingly) set different expectations on a book depending on what type of book it is, and then judge it according to how well it met those expectations...and I think it helps to be conscious of that process.

    I'm definitely going to look for this book, I'm fascinated with review writing theory. (Hey! I just saw my blog in your sidebar, how cool! Thanks for mentioning me!)

  6. First of all, thanks for stopping by my blog. For my blog, I really don't consider what I do "reviewing." More like "my thoughts." I don't want to give too much away about the plot, I just want to give a basic "what I liked," "what I didn't like," and how I felt about the book.

    When I review for a magazine, it's different. Spoilers are OK, I'm reviewing for other librarians, and I'm limited on number of words. It's very challenging - and I'm very new at it, so just learning. I may need to consult this resource. Thanks!