With the push on at many libraries for staff to write reviews and annotations of books and media, there is a need for instruction for new reviewers. Brad Hooper at Booklist noticed this several years ago, and, being an experienced reviewer and editor, he offered workshops for libraries wanting to train their staffs to be effective reviewers. To reach a wider audience, he has now written Writing Reviews for Readers' Advisory, recently published by the American Library Association. My library received a copy just before the Public Library Association Conference in March, and it was processed and waiting for me when I returned from Portland.
Back to Portland for a moment. Without forethought (full disclosure), I met Brad for the first time (I think it was the first time, but I have met a lot of people over the years) at the PLA table talk Building a Readers' Advisory Team. He invited me to stop by the Booklist booth in the exhibit hall, where he later asked me to consider reviewing popular science books for the journal. The result is that I may soon have reviews in Booklist - if I measure up.
You see why Writing Reviews for Readers' Advisory rose to the top of the stack of books on my desk. I have now read it and found it a fairly easy and reassuring read. Brad lightly takes potential and experienced reviewers through his systematic course of instruction. At each step he illustrates his lessons with reviews from Booklist and quotes from reviews from the New York Times Book Review, GQ, the New Yorker, and other periodicals. By the end, you will want to try writing for your library and for any rag that will accept your reviews.
Joyce Saricks contributed a chapter on writing audiobook reviews, which differ from book reviews in that they need to acknowledge and evaluate narration and narrator. Tone and pacing are particularly important for the satisfactory listening experience, according to Joyce. She names names, letting readers know some worthy readers and titles.
Reading Writing Reviews for Readers' Advisory is only a beginning. Brad recommends exercises in reading and writing and provides a list of websites with book reviewing advice. He ties his book up with an appendix identifying his favorite review writers, masters from whom we all can learn.
Hooper, Brad. Writing Reviews for Readers' Advisory. American Library Association, 2010. ISBN 9780838910177.