- I review for others: to lead readers to books they might like, to steer away those who may not like it, to keep in mind varying tastes.
- I review for me as a writer: to make concrete what I learned from a book, assessing strengths and weaknesses.
- I review for me as a reader: to give like-minded readers a full sense of the work.
- I review for the author: to give the book or story it's best aspect, without over- or under-selling.
- I review as if all of the above were friends. This means finding the right language, the honest yet tempered* language to give the book its proper audience.
One thing I always try to do is his fifth tip: "A great review doesn’t just give praise but also offers a caveat or two." I agree. If it's all praise, is the author a buddy or the reviewer a lapdog? Is the reviewer capable of analysis? When I scan reviews, I look for an honest grappling--not all praise or condemnation. Is there a perfect book?
The comments he wrote that sparked thought dealt with book blurbs:
"I’d much rather have a blurb that reads.... A good review often praises both the book and the author repeatedly, so that when an editor is selecting cover quotes, he has several options at hand."and
"[The reviewer] writes... in short sentences that will easily fit on the cover of a book and capture’s the audience’s attention."
I thought about blurbs early on, when I first started reviewing--not much since. Some reviewers (rightly or wrongly) appeared blurb-whores, out to get their names on as many books as possible. I purposefully wrote in a way that was not meant to be blurbed. When my name popped up on a book or two, I was genuinely surprised. They'd carved my prose into a blurb. At first I thought I'd failed--had I unintentionally tried to get my name on books?--but I considered this part of the book-publishing game. After all, I read blurbs, too, weighing them in my purchases.
The above quotes on first glance seem that reviewing is all about the author. But if I, too, use blurbs as a book buyer, why do I not write them as a book reviewer?
This will take some time to ponder. If I agree, I may have to start reading book blurbs--a difficult prospect living in a foreign country.
A final comment:
"A good review will not just recommend a book but will also recommend the author."This requires having read multiple works--perhaps short stories will work. This is useful to both reviewer and readers, but this doubles the work load, if not more so.
* tempered but not wholly. Colorful language livens up an article, as above.