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.
- Civil War Fic/Nonfic Pairing: Neverhome and Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy
- Three Books The Bell Jar Fans Will Love
- Love This? Read That: Karen Russell and Lucy Wood
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!
- Reading Romance for the First Time
- In Which I Don’t Find My First Horror Novel All That Scary
- Why I Will Never Tire of Re-Reading Harry Potter
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.
- Why Everyone Should Read Bad Feminist
- Nine Reasons You Should Read Stone Mattress
- Five Special Things About Almost Famous Women
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.
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.)
*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.