One year at school, my teacher asked us to write a book review for every book we read. Even then I was reading at least two books each week, and I found this requirement onerous, to say the least. It meant that when we had 'Silent Reading' in the classroom, I was spending all my time writing reviews for the book I had finished at home the previous evening. This took much of the enjoyment out of reading and reviewing. As a result, I hadn’t reviewed a book since school. After I discovered Amazon, I started posting reviews because I found the reviews helpful and I liked having the opportunity to contribute.
About six months ago, I won an ebook which was delivered to me via NetGalley. I was interested in the concept of free ebooks in exchange for reviewing on a personal blog, Amazon and other sites, so I signed up. A bit of exploration found that BookSneeze® and Blogging for Books also provide free ebooks for bloggers. There are other sites that offer free paperbacks, but generally only to those living in the US. I’ve since reviewed almost 60 books, with more on the way.
In a recent blog post, Kaye Dacus talked about how her college professor made the class write a response paper to books they read, including why she chose the book, what her learning goals were before she started reading, what she got out of reading it, what she learned and if her learning goals were met (she then couldn't read a book for pleasure for years, let alone write a review!).
My reviews are not the in-depth critique that Kaye describes, because they are meant for readers. As a reader, when I am reading a review, I want to know the plot, and whether there was anything I will particularly like or dislike about the plot, characters or writing. This is often where the more negative reviews come in useful – if the worst thing a reviewer can say about a novel is that it is “too Christian”, then I will probably like it. If they are commenting about factual errors, I probably won’t like it. There is also the issue of whether or not it is ‘Christian’ to give a book a negative review, but that will have to be the topic for another day…
Do you review books? What do you think about the idea that Christians should only give positive reviews? Have you ever read a Christian book that truly deserved a bad review? What did you do?