Starting soon, I’m putting up form-style reviews of all the books I’ve read. I’ll post the full form-reviews (book-review worksheets) on tumblr, which provides a nice, searchable interface and a format that makes more sense for posting lots of non-prose or semi-prose items. On this blog I’ll stick to topical posts that bring together a handful of books that address a particular theme, with links in those posts to the reviewsheet posts on tumblr.
I’ve been toying with this idea for a while now, but the logistics of organizing what will become potentially thousands of book reviewsheet posts made my seemingly trivial blogging idea a lot more complicated to actually make work. I review a lot of books on Goodreads, not always long, insightful reviews, but at least some ideas about what I think of each book I finish reading. I’m not sure I’d want to write out a full multi-paragraph review for every book I read- not all of them warrant such treatment, and I’ve read 119 books so far just this year, which would mean 119 different book review posts, a daunting amount of writing, most of it not benefiting anyone. But, I’d love to provide basic information on each book I’ve read that might help my readers select great books to read, give as gifts, or to recommend for book clubs. It seems a shame to let my knowledge of thousands of books go to waste.
I am still finalizing my worksheet, but so far I have the following:
Author- [name], [gender], [notes about race, nationality, disability, or other characteristics that contribute to ‘diversity’]
Fiction/Nonfiction/Other (poetry, memoir, ?)
Basic story/set-up [ ] – I always try not to tell too much of the story in fiction reviews, since that ruins the suspense for a lot of novels.
Setting(s) [ ] – time, place
Themes- [ ]
Trigger Issues and related ‘warnings’- Does this book depict sex, violence, rape, strong language, magic, religion, etc.? This section and the themes section are sort of the ingredients list for the novel.
Science? History? – Will you learn some science or history while reading this book (or at least be inspired to learn more)?
Other nerdy topics? – some novels deal with math, or linguistics, or other nerdy fun stuff
Non-English languages? – a lot of novels in English have phrases in French, or Latin, or Swahili, etc., mixed in with the English, which I really enjoy, but which annoys some readers.
Age- Would I have enjoyed this book as a kid? Are there adult situations in this book that I would have found hard to relate to as a kid? Is there an optimal age range for this book? I personally think young adults can handle most of these topics, and that as young adults these are important topics for people to read about, to develop a well-rounded understanding of the world they are starting to launch themselves into. But, every reader ought to make her own decisions about whether to read books with these sorts of elements, and kids like me, who start reading adult-level books in grade school, are not mature enough to be reading graphic sex scenes or pages of gruesome violence.
Mini-review – Did I like the book? Why? If I don’t own the copy I read, do I want to acquire my own copy? If I do own the copy I read, am I keeping it, or passing it on?
Library? – Do I recommend that this book be included in public library collections? University library collections?
Book reviews are always just the opinions, often strong, outspoken ones, of the reviewer, so you may disagree with my opinions on any of the books I review. Even so, I hope the information in my reviewsheet series will be useful.