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The Art of Reviewing




I rely heavily on reviews before buying certain things especially books. I also make sure that the reviewer is credible enough. Popular newspapers and other publications usually provide reliable reviews. There are some bloggers too who can be counted on for balanced reviews.

Reviewing anything is an art. Let me confine to books here. I have reviewed umpteen books a few of which were written by my friends and acquaintances. Let me confess that I am more objective and balanced when I review books written by people who have no personal connections with me. Friendship does tend to make me more lenient in my judgments. I try my best to be fair and balanced even in such cases; diplomacy helps.

I give an overview of the book without letting out the essential secrets. If you’re reviewing a novel, you need to stop after arousing the enthusiasm of the potential reader. In the case of non-fiction, the review can go all out and summarise the book if need be.

I look at the theme(s) and characters while reviewing fiction. I comment briefly on the style and other such minor details. What make a work of fiction fascinating to me are the theme(s) and the characters. I draw the reader’s attention to those. I wouldn’t like to mislead a potential reader by giving false information, even if the book is written by a friend. Recently a blogger-friend sent me a copy of his book, a collection of short stories. He didn’t mention any demand, of course. I would have reviewed it in the normal procedure. However, I desisted this time because the book had too many errors of all sorts. The stories are good, but the writing is atrocious. How do I write that without hurting the author? So I chose to let the book pass.

I read a lot and I’m a very fussy reader. I expect high standards from books. The last book I read – reread, rather – is Freedom at Midnight and I wrote a blog on it. It was not a review because a classic doesn’t require a review. The book I’m reading now is My Seditious Heart by Arundhati Roy. I’ll review it once I finish reading though a collection of essays written over 20 years is not easy to review. And the book which I’ll be ordering next is Salman Rushdie’s Quichotte though I’ll wait for a few reviews to appear in some good publications. Sometimes reviews make me change my decision to buy a book. In short,reviews do matter much to me.



Afterword:

I published a memoir [Autumn Shadows] recently and am waiting for reviews from some blogger-friends. A few reviews and other write-ups have already appeared in some blogs and am grateful to the writers. One of the best [very comprehensive and generous too] reviews so far has been by Amit Misra.

I also published a collection of some of my poems under the title God’s Love Song.

In case you’d like to receive a reviewer copy of any of the two or both, do let me know. I welcome critical reviews; be as objective as you please.



PS. This post is written for Indispire Edition 288: #reviews


Comments

  1. Books that are having more than a fair share of flaws and those that do not have much to say to any kind of reader do not need a review... you're right there. But those books that are already acclaimed also need reviews as there are readers who may not have stumbled upon them in the massive pile-up of books today. Loved reading your take...

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    Replies
    1. When it comes to acclaimed books, I'd rather focus on certain aspects that are of contemporary relevance than offer a review. There's nothing wrong in reviews too, of course, for the sake of the potential reader.

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