Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Read this book! Carnegie Tea 2012

Shadowing the Carnegie shortlist is a big deal amongst the schools of Abingdon, and this year is no exception. Traditionally, it all kicks of with the Carnegie 'tea', with shadowing groups from lots of different schools learning a little about the shortlisted books, and generally preparing for the reading fest ahead (doughnuts are involved as well).
For the last couple of years, I've given a little talk about 'how to do a book review'. Delivered in my usual, understated way (i.e. excitedly over-caffeinated and with arms flailing) I basically talk about how we do the book reviews you see at the shop and on the blog, oh - and on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.


Different mediums - sometimes stripped down to 140 characters - but all trying to do the same thing:

  • Make it personal. Tthis is your review, no-one else. Who cares if everyone else likes a book and you hated it. Your opinion is important, and in a world of hype where each new book is pushed as the next 'big thing' there are still plenty of people who look for more balanced reviews...
  • Don't just describe the plot. Beginner's mistake - just describing the book. I can get this from the blurb on the back. Sure, in a longer book review, a brief description that sets the book in context is appropriate, but don't describe the whole thing.
  • Use all the senses. Close your eyes, did the book conjure up sights and smells, textures to touch. These kinds of descriptions make the book become real in the eyes of the review reader.
  • Book reviews are a kind of selling. Whether you like a book or not. If you thought the book was 'so-so' then fair enough. But so many books are published, so many great authors fail to make it, that if you truly loved a book it might be your review that makes the difference. Successful selling is all about the transfer of emotion - so put your passion and enthusiasm into the review, and let the reader be in no doubt that you loved a book - or didn't!
Obviously there may be things you have to include in a book review (that your teachers say you have to) - but hopefully this'll give you some more ideas too.


The book I talked about as an example was "All Fall Down" by Sally Nicholls. It's very good.

Oh, and I threatened to publish these too...

  

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