The more I read the more sensitive I become to writer style, voice, use of words and phrases, pacing, use of tension, story development, characterizations, etc, etc. This sentence reads like the table of contents in a writing primer, perhaps Creative Writing 101. I never took the course but had an excellent, even unparalleled, liberal arts education at Occidental College.

 I haven’t always been comfortable with pen and paper…or my mother’s old (1930’s) Royal portable typewriter. The science teacher pushed his words on me for my valedictory speech in high school: stodgy, 19th century prose that was an embarrassment. A few months later, I sat before my first “Blue Book” essay exam, froze up, wrote a tiny page and a half and got a C+. By the time I got to grad school, I could do the first and last draft of term papers on that old Royal the night before they were due. Research, of course, was sought before that date and incubated much as it still does.

While I devoured books all my life, I’d never been trained to analyze what I was reading or how the writer wrote. I escaped into the stories, their imaginary characters and settings and wished I could write, too, but knew I wasn’t worthy.

Writing was something that special people way above me did. Not something I could aspire to.

Instead, I became a social worker and learned to observe setting, behavior, character structure, family and group dynamics and write of these in case notes and other documents. Thirty years of writing court reports and occasional ventures into writing poetry and short stories gradually led me to storytelling and getting it all down on paper. Now, I am immersed in the doing of it.

So what led me to take up the topic of  REVIEW? If you’ve read my last three blogs, you know I’ve been out and about in the Great Northwest…collecting new books. Okay, that wasn’t the primary goal but it was an accomplishment. And I fulfilled it to the brim of my car trunk.

So far, in the week I’ve been home, I have read two books by Women Writing the West writers: THE GOOD TIMES ARE ALL GONE NOW by Julie Whitesel Weston, a memoir, and THE BARGAIN by Irene Bennet Brown, an historical romance. Both are exceptional writers and I decided I needed to return to reviewing books I especially like. You can find both books reviewed by me and others on Amazon and on Goodreads.

I decided that I owed it to these writers, sitting in their writing rooms with just the computer between them and their readers, to acknowledge their work with words of my own. Okay, they got a measly bit in royalties of what I spent on their book but I doubt that is reward enough. Both are prize-winners and may not need my endorsement but I’m giving it to themanyway.  Do you know what?  They each graciously thanked me and praised my use of words; one joined Goodreads and is now a follower of my blog. The other says she will use my review in her next series of readings.

For me, this is the ultimate in paying it forward among writers: to buy(or win) the book, render an honest opinion and keep at it.

When did you last write a review? 

What did you
want to share with the world about the book and its impact on you?

Will you do it now?



Filed under Opinion, Writing

8 responses to “TO REVIEW OR NOT TO REVIEW

  1. I’ve never done reviews for anything other than what I buy on I read a LOT though, how does one go about offering their review of a book they liked or didn’t? Will have to do some research on this. Interesting idea to look into, thanks!

  2. Thanks, Monique, for stopping by. You can post a review of a book on Amazon by looking at the listing for the book and where it shows “customer reviews” click; as you read the reviews already posted, you will see the question about if you want to add your review. Amazon then guides you through the process.
    To list on Goodreads, you need to join (free) and walk their walk, listing books you’ve read, are reading or want to read and expressing your review of any of these.
    Checked your blog and it is unusual, very colorful and enjoyable.

  3. Robin,. will you be the president and CEO of my non-existent Fan Club, har har? Your words are very touching and I appreciate your generosity.

  4. Big Smile. Love your inspiring words.

  5. I’m often surprised how people respond to my work. Inspiring? Who’d have thought? Not me. Thank you , Marlene.

  6. Arletta, I enjoyed this blog. I recently came to much the same conclusion–partly because someone at the Women Writing the West conference reminded us to consider reviews for the books we read. I have recently reviewed a book from a writer I met at Fishtrap this past summer. I am going to get into the habit of doing more. thank you! And thank you for your review. It was fun to see the cover of my book on your blog!


  7. Hi Julie,
    I missed out on whoever pushed for reviews at the conf. but I’m glad they did and that you will. I haven’t done too many hard critiques. When asked to do some for another writer (not her work), I found a couple of books in the list that I’d give a 2 or 3 star review and opted out…she understood. To do professional/print reviews, I’d have to bite the bullet….

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