Lift up and don’t look down

Lift up and  don’t look down

By Sahana Sundar

“One of the best feelings in the world is reading a review by a complete stranger saying that your book is one of the best they’ve ever read.”
― Johnny MoscatoThe Project

      Currently I’m reading a book called “Cotton comes to Holland”, where the author explores Holland in his own perspective and discovers a mushroom called Psilocybin Mexicana (flesh of the Gods). After tasting ayahaunsca in Peru, a drink prepared by Shamans, the author has learnt the transforming effects of the hallicinogen. Now at Holland he tries the mushroom and experiences the effects of opening doors of perception to personal insights and growth.
     I was particularly interested to write a review for this book and I thought about what guidelines should I follow to write a constructive review, As I browsed the net I stumbled upon few reviewing techniques. I strongly feel I have to share my opinion of how to write reviews.
     As Dale Carnegie has said “Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain and most fools do”, let’s not become a fool, not doing much by condemning the writing. The author would have taken great pains to build up the book. It is very easy to criticize than craft a book. Though reviewing is a critical analysis, in my opinion, the criticism has to be constructive and do more good than harm. It should be more of an evaluation on the quality, meaning, purpose, content and authority. Constructive criticism is what we need today.
     As EB white has pointed out that the social responsibility of a writer is to lift up people and not look down, let us embrace these rules of constructive criticism-
1. Know the authors intention and do not criticize him for the points he has not touched upon.
2. Point out the the positive aspects of the book in terms of clarity, coherence, understanding, knowledge, choice of words, originality, forcefulness, conciseness, completeness and flexibility.
3. Give the readers one extended passage of the author, so that the readers can form their own impression about the book.
4. Be brief about the summary of the plot and never give away the ending. Don’t blabber too much about the story, giving all the surprises and suspense. It should not be a retelling of the story.
5. When you feel the book is drab and lacking luster, cite examples from the book.
6. Never condemn, criticize, ban or blame the writer but praise and share the book. Give a simply positive review. Review the book and not its reputation.
7. Few examples for a simply positive review are-” It’s touching and heart wrenching and one of the most courageous and tear jerking thing, I’ve read in a long time.”, ” A book that is perfectly balanced in all sections.”

1 Comment

  1. To the point article, educating any reviewer on how to stick to the dos and don’ts of his profession.

    Hope there will be a sequel to this article, citing examples of the published reviews (best, mediocre, pathetic etc).

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