Friday, September 21, 2012

How I Review Books!

Hey guys! Since I don't have a review ready at the moment, I decided to do a post that's a little bit different. So today, I'm showing you my review process for the books I read. I don't know if any of you will actually find this interesting, but I thought it would be kind of fun. Also, please excuse my really low quality photos (and my bad handwriting) in this post. I couldn't find my camera's memory card so I just used my phone's camera instead.  Also, most of the writing on my post-it notes is just random examples, not actually things that apply to the book I'm reading. Anyway... let's get to the post!

So first, I start off with a few basic supplies that I use while reading a book.

1. Three different types of post it notes. 
Technically, I could just use the big ones and rip them up, but having three different sizes already prepared is just way easier.
2. A pen
I write in my books even when I'm not reviewing them. So for me, a pen is a must. I use a pen since I usually write on post-it notes rather than writing directly in the book. However, sometimes I use a pencil when I do feel inclined to write on the actual pages.
3. Highlighters
These are even more essential than the pen and the post it notes. I use my highlighters to highlight important lines from a book. For example, when there's foreshadowing, something significant a character says, a turn in the plot, etc. I also use them to highlight my favorite quotes from the books. This comes in handy a lot when I want to skip to my favorite part of the book if I re-read it or when I'm writing up a book quotes post.

4. Reading Journal (not pictured)

I absolutely love having a reading journal. I first use the pens, highlighters, and post it notes to record my thoughts while I'm reading and may not have my journal with me. Then when I'm done reading I use my journal to outline reviews and record my reactions and personal thoughts about a book immediately after I finish reading it. Even if you're not a book blogger, I definitely recommend you start a reading journal. It helps you have a better connection to the books you're reading and can be used to refresh your memory if you every want to go back and see what you thought about a book.

Now to the actual review process!

Okay, so a key part of my review process involves the large post-it notes. Before I even start a book I place three of them on the inside cover. These help me keep track of things that happen in the book, some general thoughts about the book, and things that I need to bring up in my reviews.

The first one I place under the title - I'm currently reading Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs - and label it "Characters." This helps me keep track of every single character that pops up in the book. As the book goes on I'll add notes about different relationships, what characters I like, etc.

Next, I make a t-chart on another post-it note that says "Likes" and "Dislikes." I then write down things that the author did well, and things they did badly. Usually these include the things we base our reviews off of like writing, plot, characters, and the ending.

The last large post-it note I use I label "Favorite Parts." On here I might write down certain scenes, quotes, or page numbers. It's really helpful for adding specifics to my reviews and to refer back to if I ever read the book again.

Aside from taking general notes on these larger post-its, I also take more specific notes in the actual text. I use the little yellow post-it notes to write down any questions or thoughts I may have while I'm reading and mark important parts of the book like plot twists.

I then use the smallest post-it notes and my highlighters to mark my favorite lines from the book. Mainly this is just for my enjoyment so I can go back and re-read my favorite parts, but usually I will mark quotes that show great character development or good overall writing, both elements that I take note of in my reviews.

After I'm done reading the book I write a response in my reading journal and then review all of my notes and highlighting. From there I rate the different elements of the book, give the book an overall rating, and then write my review!

That was just a quick overview of my review process and how I annotate my books. I hope it was somewhat interesting to you and as always, feel free to leave comments below!

Love always,


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