Top 10 Traits of a Book Reviewer?

October 13, 2008 § 4 Comments

I was thinking about what it takes to be a reviewer, particularly a book reviewer, for several reasons.
     1) I read books. A lot.
     2) I read reviews. A lot. 
     3) Someone at the water cooler casually suggested the other day that reviews are easy to write, that they are just a matter of pure opinion and therefore not…completely…valid.    Hmmm…I said, but only to myself, I don’t agree with that. 
So …. just for fun –
What are reviewers (and reviews) made of?

1. Sensitivity. Willing to laugh and cry out loud. Also gut-driven, instinctive. 

2. Traveler. Always a plus. Getting out of the house counts. Armchair traveling counts. Travel negates provincialism, as in, getting stuck in your own head, your own town. Travel slams doors open.
Also, points are awarded to those who go where the accent (or language) is different than their own.

3. A writer and self-editor. ‘Specially the latter. Not afraid to throw away the good lines.

4. Objective.
Hogwash – Reviews are not solely opinion!.  A good reviewer brings in the world, knowledge of things applied to the thing being reviewed. It’s easy to blow something to smithereens;  however, such a review is like listening to someone slog through their political beliefs at a cocktail party. Praise, too, must be sincere,  neither shallow nor hollow.

5. Eats chocolate.

6. Owns a pet.

7. Loves stoires. Sees stories in everything.

8. Patient. This goes with the second part of #3.

9. Should likely have another job! unless writing with a national, online, big kahuna syndicated publisher that pays major moolah. (Hungry reviewers are apt to be a tad negative.)

9. Wise.  Even a wise-ass. But well grounded.

10. Reads everything.All over the reading map.

The Big BL (bottom line): Some reviews “work” because they have personality.  Some reviews work because the writing is almost better than the book itself. Some reviews work because they’re funny or come in at a completely unexpected angle. Some reviews can even tell you everything about the work, even spilling the end, and STILL you want to read the book (or see the movie, or whatever is being reviewed.)  That’s good stuff.

What else makes a good review and reviewer?


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§ 4 Responses to Top 10 Traits of a Book Reviewer?

  • Becca says:

    I really enjoyed reading this list of characteristics, and I think your “BL” summation is right on target. I particularly like reading bloggers reviews, because so much of the reviewers personality is allowed to shine through. I like to know how a book affected the reader – what was it about the story or the characters that moved you emotionally, that made you feel a sense of connection (or revulsion in some cases!)

    Great post!

  • anno says:

    Excellent list! To me it sounds like a good book reviewer could be a person who would be a good friend as well…

  • oh says:

    And hats off to your book reviews, Becca, which I read avidly!

    Anno – I suspect you’re absolutely right about good reviewers being good friends! (actually, two of my friends are reviewers … and then there are all those wonderful book review blogs! (geez, what is up with me and the exclamation points today?)

  • Jeanie says:

    This is an excellent post and I so agree with your list! The reviews I like capture me — early on. Sometimes I’ll read a review of a book I had no intention of even considering, just because the review was a grabber from the start. If I “connect” to the reviewer (that’s where your personality comes in!) then I think, “Maybe I’d like this too — or not!”

    All this holds true for telly critics, too!

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