How to Write More Creative Book Reviews

Posted January 16, 2015 by LeahAdmin in Blogging & Challenges, Discussions / 43 Comments

How to Write More Creative Book Reviews

Happy Bloggiesta! This is my first time hosting a mini-challenge, and I’m really excited to share this post with you!

In the last year, there has been a lot of discussion among bloggers about the way we write about books. Many of us are growing bored with reading and writing traditional reviews, myself included. In order to keep our readers (and ourselves) interested, we need to re-evaluate the way we approach reviews and come up with more creative ways to talk about the books we love. Thinking outside the box is important for a few reasons:

  • Non-traditional posts are often more fun to write.
  • An exciting headline like “Five Reasons I Fell Hard for X Book” is more likely to grab a reader’s attention than “Book Review: Title X by Author Y.”* Many readers only read reviews about books they have already read or books they are already interested in; use the headline to give them a reason to read your post if they aren’t familiar with the book! Spark their curiosity with an interesting headline and keep them reading with engaging content.

One of my goals for 2015 is to be more creative about the way I write about the books I’m reading, and I have been brainstorming different ways to approach talking about books online. I’ve come up with ten prompts to get the creative juices flowing! Under each idea, I’ve listed a few examples I have come up with.

1. Make a list

Go beyond generic categories like ‘Five Great Short Story Collections.’ What special factor unites these books? What makes them so wonderful? And what makes your post unique? Be descriptive to pull readers in.

  • Five Novels About Ladies Breaking the Rules
  • Three Atmospheric Historical Novels
  • Six Books With Brain-Tingling Science

2. Suggest book pairings

Try pairing two books that readers might enjoy. Pair two books that share a theme, a nonfiction title and a related novel, a classic and a contemporary book, or a popular book and a lesser-known book. You could also pair a book with other media! Shannon at River Reading puts an interesting spin on this idea with her Read This, Watch That series, in which she pairs a book with a TV show.

3. How X Book Changed the Way I Think

Did a book have a really strong impact on you? Did it change the way you see an issue or broaden your knowledge? Write about that! You’ll be able to connect with readers on a personal level, and it will show readers how thought-provoking the book is.

  • How Smoke Gets in Your Eyes Made Me Rethink My Attitude Toward Death

4. Five Thoughts On Reading X for the First Time

This approach works well when writing about reading a classic or a new genre for the first time. What were you expecting? How did the book measure up? What were your impressions? Are you glad you read it? If it’s a new genre, will you read more of it? Readers who have already read the classic or regularly read the genre will be excited to hear what a newbie has to say about it.

Or mix things up and write about your experience re-reading an old favorite!

5. Five Things I Learned from X Nonfiction Book

Instead of writing a traditional review of a nonfiction title, consider sharing a few of the things you learned from it. Getting a sample of the fascinating facts the book offers will intrigue readers and make them want to learn more.

  • Five Things The Power of Myth Taught Me About Religion Around the World
  • Six Archaeology Myths Busted by Lives in Ruins

6. Why X Book is Important / # Reasons You Should Read X Book

How will the book change people for the better, or why should they read it? This would be a great approach to writing about a book that deals with a controversial subject.

7. Why Book X is Perfect For Y

This is similar to the above prompt but more specific; it associates the book with a group of people, season, holiday, etc.

  • Why Extroverts Should Read Quiet by Susan Cain
  • Why Wuthering Heights is the Perfect Fall Read

8. How X Book Did Y Thing

Take an analytical approach! Take some time to write about an element of the book that might not be the focus of most traditional reviews. You’ll create some original content, and the “How X Did Y” format of the post title will grab the attention of your readers.

  • How The Paying Guests Challenges Gender Norms
  • How Mrs. Dalloway Proves Writing Trumps Plot

9. Why I Love X Book

If you fell head over heals for a book and want to shout your love from the rooftops, do it! Feel free to leave the headline at that, or target a specific aspect of what you love about the book or what it means to you.

  • Why I Return to Tiny Beautiful Things Over and Over Again
  • Why I Can’t Stop Thinking About Dept. of Speculation
  • Why The Age of Miracles Made Me Ugly Cry

10. Why X Book Didn’t Work For Me — But You Might Love It

Sometimes we read a book that we don’t particularly care for but that isn’t necessarily a bad book. Maybe we’re just the wrong audience. If you prefer to steer away from writing negative reviews, this format is a great way to discuss why a book didn’t work for you, personally, but why other people might really enjoy it — and who those people might be. Tanya at 52 Books or Bust uses a similar approach; at the end of each review, she shares a short paragraph about “who will enjoy this book.” It’s a nice way to acknowledge that every book has an audience and to look for the positives.

The Challenge

For this mini challenge, use these prompts (or devise your own!) to think about how you could write more creative “reviews” and brainstorm three post titles. Feel free to draw inspiration from books you have already reviewed or books you will be reviewing in the future! You do NOT have to write these reviews; the purpose of this challenge is just to get your creative juices flowing and start thinking about different ways you COULD approach discussing books going forward.

I am giving away a $10 Amazon gift card. To enter, write your three post titles in the comments and enter the Rafflecopter drawing below. (US only.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*After crunching some quick numbers from my own blog, I saw that my creatively titled book posts received twice as many views in their first week as my traditional reviews, on average.

  • After struggling with writing my most recent review, this post resonates with me so much! I’ve already launched my “Things I Learned…” type of review but I love all of the prompts you’ve provided here! I think 2015 is the year to think outside of the box a bit and make writing and reading reviews more fun!

  • I am actually working on a few of these creative ways right now! But you have given me 7 more to think about! Thanks, Leah! It is so easy to get into a rut!

  • Karen

    Excellent ideas – thanks for sharing them. I am so behind with writing my reviews just because I think I’m not that enthused by them. You’ve given me some options for re-igniting some enthusiasm

    • I’ve been falling behind for the same reason. It takes a little more effort to come up with an alternative format that fits a book well, but the review is more fun to write once you’ve come up with something.

  • Tons of great ideas, Leah! I think you’re right that it’s just about re-evaluating the way we approach reviews, not necessarily reinventing the wheel. Basic feelings about the book are still there, but just reorganized in a way that doesn’t feel so scripted.

  • Gosh – do I ever need this post?! Thank you! I’m trying to be more creative with my book reviews and posts in general and it’s so hard! I do have a review in my drafts using your “what I learned” tip. And I love Shannon’s Read This, Watch That series….I think she’s probably one of the most creative book bloggers out there too. I’m constantly amazed at the interesting posts she comes up with.

  • I usually don’t try any mini-challenges because of time constraints, but this one is really tempting me to try it because of all the great prompts you’re suggesting!

  • These are some awesome ideas! As a new blogger, I’m always trying to think of ways to keep my content interesting.

    I actually wrote a post recently that I’m proud of, both in title (shamelessly swiped from Dr. Strangelove) and content (I blended a book review with an attitude shift about how I read). Link, if you’re interested: http://shainareads.blogspot.com/2015/01/the-paper-magician-and-glass-magician.html

    Thanks again! 🙂

  • I really needed this post today because I feel that my reviews need a facelift. I already do creative displays at work with books so I should incorporate them in the blog. Thanks for the inspiration and for sharing your ideas! Some displays at work that might work as posts:
    “Across The Pond” (for Downton Abbey premiere), “If You Enjoyed This Book, Give These A Try”, “Don’t Judge A Book By The Movie” .

  • Isi

    Hi Leah! I should keep this post bookmarked because I’m very boring at my reviews, thanks for the ideas!
    (I’m not participating in Bloggiesta this time, but I’ll try to come up with more, though I find if difficult due to my being “classical”)

  • RIGHT ON! This post is a thing of beauty, and it’ll come in handy when I need inspiration.

  • Great post Leah! So many ideas – so much to use! 🙂

  • Oh man. I’m totally stealing ALL of these idea. Super post!!

  • This is great advice! It might have seemed gimmicky to me at one time, but I’ve noticed that I really am more excited about reading reviews that have catchy titles advertising a unique take, like the ones you suggest here.

    • It’s a sad fact, but clickbait works 😛

      • I just tried writing a review like this and I thought it was a lot of fun! Aside from possibly attracting more readers, it’s refreshing to do something a little bit different 🙂

  • What everyone else said! 🙂

  • faraziyya

    It hit me hard. I’m the kind of blogger who just posted the reviews with only the title of the book. So. I’m going to take these into consideration. Thank you for your sharing 🙂

  • I have been trying to find a way to make my book reviews more interesting and I think this will help a lot. Thank you! The three titles I quickly brainstormed were: “Liked Scott Pilgrim? Read Strong Female Protagonist”, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy: Five Pick Me Up Reads”, and “Steamy Books To Help Thaw the Winter Chill”. These sound so much better than “Book Review: Book Title” that I am so prone to do. Thank you again!

  • Roberta Gibson

    Fabulous post! I have also been struggling with being bored of doing reviews, which makes them as much a yawn to read as they are tedious to do. Every one of the prompts is gold, and I will definitely be coming back to them again and again.

    My three new titles are:
    1. Contrasting Young Adult Fantasy: The Fire and The Ice Dragon

    2. Seven Popular Books to Spark an Interest in Chemistry

    3. Eight Ways Color Changed My World

    Thanks!

  • This is all such great advice! I generally try to come up with catchy and clever titles so that when I’m stumped I can get away with a generic one!

  • I love listicles…so my three posts are: “5 Romantic Comedies That Made Me Pee My Pants (Almost),” “## Thoughts I Had While Reading __________” (basically a collection of all the highlights and comments I made on a book), and “## Books that Made Me Realize 50SOG Isn’t That Great” (I’ve actually already written this post but am saving it for a rainy day :P).

  • This is a great post! I have been struggling to figure out how I want to format my reviews this year and this is very helpful. This is what I was able to come up with:

    1- Why Does That Guy Have A Screen For A Head? My Thoughts on Saga
    2- What I Learned About My Dog From Reading Dog Sense

    3- Tell The Wolves I’m Home Made Me Cry and I Loved It

  • Stavy K

    Thank you for these nice ideas!!

  • Chrystal M

    This is a great inspiration. I’m bookmarking it to remind me to make some ideas for future posts. Great job!

  • These are all great ideas. It’s good to mix up the styles of reviews to keep them fresh and fun. And interesting that they get twice as many hits!

  • Ali

    Thanks for the inspiration for this, I’ve been wanting to work on reviews and making them more reader enjoyable. I have come up with three new titles for reviews: Three Romance Novels with Hard Hitting Messages, Fantasy with Bite, Fallen or Golden: Five Novels with Good Vs. Evil Genres.

  • Brittany Strickland

    This really made me think. I always struggle for good book review titles! Here are 3 I’ve thought of so far: 5 Reasons I Still Love Harry Potter; # Reasons You Should Read Columbine; 3 Things I Learned From ________. Thanks so much!!!

  • This is perfect! One of my goals for Bloggiesta is to make a list of ‘non-review’ post topics for my blog. How are these?

    “X Books That Are Over-Hyped”
    “If You Enjoyed ‘X’, You Must Read ‘Y’!”
    “X Books With a Y Connection”

    (‘X’ and ‘Y’ to be determined later)

  • Thank-you so much for this post!! One of my goals this year is to move beyond just posting my usual book reviews. I have a few ideas but it’s hard to motivate myself to move beyond what’s easiest for me! This gives me some ideas 🙂

  • I just wanted to thank you…I was flailing around trying to think of a creative spin for my Golden State review and turned back to this post for some inspiration…and I found it! Thank you!

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