Length of Review
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Personally, I prefer to read fairly short reviews, that give me a good overview, without giving too much away.. so that's what I tend to write too.
1) An opinion, and
2) What prompted that opinion, in more than a word or phrase -- but in less than another book
I tend to be of the opinion that a book review doesn't have to be a masterpiece of literary criticism. It just has to tell me enough to get a sense of what I'm (possibly) getting into.
When I read reviews in newspapers, magazines, etc., I enjoy something more wordy.
More to the point, it won't tell you anything when you go back to the book a year later and can't remember what you liked about it.
I write long reviews; 600+ and often 1000+ words. But they are always published elsewhere, and I keep them in LT for my own archival purposes.
Some people don't like the ones where you talk about the book, but I have to put it in. The review really wouldn't mean much to me if it can't remind me what the book was about. I've been reading so many books since joining LT that the majority blend together. I do try to avoid anything that would be considered too spoilerific.
Try this differentiation:
Review #1. "Moby Dick" is about the enmity between (a possibly mad) Captain Ahab and this big white whale.
Review #2. Herman Melville's classic "Moby Dick" is much, much more than the long struggle for dominence between the Pequod captain, Ahab, and Moby Dick, the great white whale.
Literarily, the book broke the novelic formulae by maintaining the integrity of the protagonist, Ishmael. He is the same at the end of the book as he is at the beginning -- floating alone in the sea of life.
Thematically, Melville must have a eschatogical reason for naming characters after the Old Testament figures. That modus operandi is what is dissected in the graduate schools of English Literature around the world.
Whether the "dark visage" of Ahab means he is evil, and the albino whiteness of the white whale makes him "good" is analyzed infinitum by grad students, but what is not noticed very often is the sociological impact of the book.
That impact is the bringing together several cultures and some new ideas in the social fabric of relationships. Is it not scandulous for Melville's time to have a white Christian sleeping with a colored savage like Queequeg?
Unless the reader wishes to embrace cetalogical knowledge, he is encouraged to skip the chapter on the cultural biopsy, if you will, of the whale. Other than having a content of constant over-zealous descriptions and a lack of editorial parity, the book is a must for all litarary readers.
Both the above are "reviews." Which one would you like to read?
I guess I'm way more simple minded than the person who would be writing or reading review #2. The trivia is kind of nice, like the part about the names but basically this would be a review for your more "literary mind" type, not your average Joe Schmoe such as myself.
I guess reviewers should also keep in mind who their audience will be. If you're reviewing for a college journal how you want your review to read would be much different than reviewing for a romance novel blog.
I am often guilty of writing reviews that deal more with how the book bounced off my previous reading and opinions than strictly speaking picking apart the book itself.
This is why I rarely post my reviews to Amazon, as the "me chatting about something I just read" format works fine for my blog (where I can expect to have at least some segment of "regular readers"), it would seem a bit odd in a context like Amazon.
I typically don't read other peoples reviews till after I have written mine that way I am not influenced by what they had to say. Good or bad, the reviews I write are mostly for me but I would like to inspire others to read books that I have greatly enjoyed, especially if it is the genre that they enjoy.
Who would have thought of haiku?
Such a joy to read!
I would think it would also depend on the book. I always try to give a basic plot outline (with no spoilers) in the review, but there are some books where that's not necessary.
Personally when I read a review I don't care for the extremely long reviews. A review should be something I can read in a few minutes.