Mastering the book review

I am committing myself to learn how to write good book reviews. Why do I want to write good books reviews? Here’s a few reasons:

  • Writing reviews requires critical thinking and discernment. By committing to mastering the book review, I am committing to read well.
  • Writing reviews requires writing. And writing is an important skill that takes practice to master. The people who leave dents in history are notable writers. How do we know that? We read their books.
  • Different books require different measures of attention. Writing book reviews will force me to learn how to evaluate books. It will force me to understand the piece good enough to take what’s good and discard the junk. Also, I’ll learn how much time I should spend with a book.Bacon writes: “Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.”
  • To write a good review, you have to have convictions. Book reviews are not like pre-school tee-ball. We keep score here. Not everyone gets a blue ribbon. It’s important to develop the ability to determine what is good, and what isn’t. The best reviewers stick to their guns even when the tides of popularity are against them. For instance, Challies’ review of The Shack is constantly his most popular post. And the reason the review is so good is because he stuck to his theological guns even when the whole world was caught up in Shack-fever.
  • You don’t really understand something until you have to teach someone else about it. Writing about the books I’ve read will bring me into a deeper understanding of them. For me, writing and thinking go hand in hand. Articulating what I’ve had to think about will solidify the thoughts in my mind. I am among the number of those who must “write themselves clear.” Writing is the wind that blows away the mind-fog.
  • Free books. Seriously. If you become a reputable book reviewer, writers will be drooling for your endorsements. Kevin Deyoung has new manuscripts on his desk every week. Imagine that.

If I can master the book review, I will be a better scholar for it. Oh, and let me in on some resources if you know any.


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