Reading and Writing – NOT Arithmetic

During my three month sabbatical (Jan-Mar) to finish writing The Business of Being, my schedule was simple:

  • WRITE during the day
  • READ in the evening

Some of the books I read were serious; others were laugh-out-loud funny!

When I finish reading a book, if I can give it three or more stars, I write a brief review/recommendation and post it on Goodreads and Amazon. These are the books I read and enjoyed during my sabbatical:

Some people hesitate to write book reviews because they feel they have to be long and involved, but many of the best reviews are short. Here’s one of my favorites:

Note to Self: A Seven-Step Path to Gratitude and Growth is “as good for you as kale, but reads like chocolate—smooth, rich, and fun.” —Leanne Dyck

When you enjoy a book, do you typically write a brief review/recommendation?


66 thoughts on “Reading and Writing – NOT Arithmetic

  1. I think a quick review is important and I always write a review unless I really didn’t feel it was worth one, then I don’t write one at all. My dad always said, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” The authors will appreciate your reviews.

  2. Hi Laurie,
    Perhaps not typically, and I often recommend books that I found interesting in some way.

    Probably the single most powerful book for me was Richard Dawkin’s “Selfish Gene”, and it was powerful because it was the first coherent explanation of the evolution of cooperation I had read, and to me it hinted at the overwhelming evolutionary power of cooperation in the emergence of complexity in life.
    I have since refined that to a confidence beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt.

  3. I’ve always read books and recommended them but since I started publishing my own and realised how important reviews were for authors I started publishing reviews on Amazon, Goodreads and other places. Now I seem to be doing a lot of that and sharing on my own blog too. I don’t write bad reviews. I’m with Darlene, if I don’t have anything good to say… Although I try and be detailed if I can, because sometimes something I don’t like in a book might be what somebody else would appreciate and vice versa. But it’s only a person’s opinion and that’s all it should be.

  4. I have written many book reviews on Amazon as I like to read them myself prior to buying them for my kindle. I must have a closer look at your recommendations. Thank you for sharing. 👍

    • Fatima — Like you, I read book reviews before I purchase a physical book or a book for my Kindle. I feel like it’s more of a “sure bet” when other folks have already enjoyed it.

  5. Amazing. Great strategy. Shows me how much of my reading time email and social media have gobbled up. Even in my blogging fast, I find myself reading only two or three books/month. When you go cold turkey, like you did, and you create a special space for reading, you overcome the modern problem of distraction.

    Loved Leanne’s review of your book!

  6. I DO write books reviews on Goodreads when I’ve finished. Ha – for me, the more I love the book, the longer the review tends to be. LOVE the sabbatical schedule. Sounds lovely!

  7. I’m very bad at writing reviews about anything, although I depend on them when I’m shopping. I never know what to say. I do wonder if not writing reviews when we don’t like books skews the impression of the book, so potential readers aren’t getting a fair appraisal?

    • Carol — You bring up a GREAT question about not writing a review if we don’t like a book. I just can’t bring myself to do it. My mother always said, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all” and it’s deeply ingrained.

  8. : ) Thank you for the shout out, Laurie–that’s very kind of you.
    I’m a person with dyslexia; I was a reluctant reader. I’m forever indebted to the skilled teachers (and my parents) who helped me learn to read. I can’t image my life without books–I won’t want to. So if I can do anything to promote reading I do.
    We authors are on the same team. So I try to be a good team player.
    Yes, I do review good reads on my blog. (But I don’t review for Goodreads–I don’t like their rating system. And if I started reviewing here, there and everyone I’d be on this machine a lot longer–I’m already sitting here long enough.) : )

  9. Thanks for the reminder Laurie. I’ve become lax about posting reviews, especially when a book already has 100 or more. I used to write carefully crafted literary reviews for the Story Circle website, but that became too cumbersome, both to write and to read.

    These days I rarely exceed 200 words. That’s about as much as anyone wants to read. In general, I look at stars and skim review content, so less is definitely more.

    I will post a negative review if I think a book seems hastily thrown together. If it’s a commercial publication, shame on them. If it’s an Indie publication, that’s my game too, and I’ll do my part to maintain Indie quality by pointing out exceptions as tactfully as possible. I always explain why, and it’s always got something to do with sloppy craft.

  10. Laurie, I’d love to say yes, I do write reviews every time I read a book but it wouldn’t be true….I have to be very moved to write one. I never publish a bad review, why would I waste my time and energy? However, I do have my favorite authors that I love to collect and I brag on them big time – think Dorothy Benton Frank. Any one watching me read (rolling up and down the floor, holding my sides and gasping for air.) her Low Country tales would surely rush out to buy her books!

  11. When I was writing reviews for publishers and newspapers ( and getting paid for it) A publisher told me limit your review to 500 words or less. For many years now I have kept that number in mind and on my blog I keep it right on that number. I have to read a number of books for the company which I work for which are definitely 2 or 1 star…. I stopped giving star ratings. I always try to find something nice to say because that book is someone’s “baby” They have tried very hard. I work at thinking of the kind of person who would like that book. I no longer use GOOD READS because some one takes down my reviews every time, but if asked I will review on Amazon. There I work at keeping it precise and easy. After I do my review of NOTES TO SELF April 24th. I will put a review up on Amazon.
    No one reads more that 500 words of a review, and folks only really listen to 10 minutes of any sermon…amazingly millennials are listening to longer podcasts these days…but not reading as much as previous generations – and they want it free!

    • Patricia — You’re absolutely right that all books (good, bad, or indifferent) are someone’s baby.

      I had no idea you’re reviewing NOTE TO SELF. How cool is that? Thank you! 🙂

  12. I always leave book reviews. Back in the day, I wrote really detailed reviews that I also put on my blog. That was then. Now I write a decent-sized paragraph. It’s gets tiresome at time when people keep bemoaning getting three-star reviews. To me (and in most parallel universes) a three is average. What’s wrong with average? That’s readable. Not a waste of time. Yet like so many things in life, our scales have shifted. The one time I don’t leave a review is when I mark a client’s book as “read” on Goodreads. I do want those books to count in my yearly total (Yikes, reading on the job!), though I feel its unethical to review what I have helped create.

    • Jeri — I agree that three stars indicates average (not a bad rating). I haven’t thought about marking the books I’ve read (but won’t review because I can’t recommend them) as “read” on Goodreads to keep my annual total accurate. Hmmmm, I may have to incorporate your strategy 🙂

  13. One of my ambitions in life is to read a book in a single sitting. I’ve never done it not once . I rarely read one book at a time or do one project at a time . I have no idea why that is . When I get to the end of a book, maybe the last few chapters, then I devote all my time to it . Your book is like a bible I dip in and out of it , keep it on the coffee table , the kitchen work surface , the laundry basket , the car pasanger seat ( I bet you didn’t know you were so well traveled ) . If like today I wear blue then I have a flick through …what does Laurie have to say about blue .

  14. I have written an occasional review when I really enjoy a book, but to doing it to ‘the standard’ – whatever that is, feels burdensome 🙂

  15. I’m on a crusade not only to review every book I read (Yes, even the bad ones, but I keep my tone constructive) but to post the review on at least two websites (Goodreads and Amazon).

    I especially like to promote non-best-selling authors who have written excellent books. I actively lobby for readers to read and review these books (including mine, of course!). It’s one of the best marketing tools an author has in today’s publishing world. I am surprised by how many readers aren’t aware that they may post online reviews of books. Or that is so easy to do. As you said, short and sweet is often the best review in our fast-paced world.


  16. What a fabulous line-up of books. I am particularly intrigued with the Fannie Flagg, as I adore “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe.” I always favor the longer review myself. 🙂

  17. I have written a review here and there but realize the importance of those reviews and will try to make it a point from here on out. I read reviews on everything before I purchase something and I know I love hearing feedback from our farm customers. Thanks for bringing this subject as a reminder to all of us how important a review can be! Tina

  18. I do amazon book review for everything I read. I try to give it no more than 5 sentences and keep it like a back cover blurb. . Some “reviewers” think a review is a 1000+ word plot summary. Isn’t that what 3rd graders do for the book report but much shorter of course? I have recently been solicited to do reviews for several authors. Some were disappointed as I stopped after 100 pages as the writing was junk with so many errors in mechanics. So I decline to review instead of writing something humiliating. It’s getting to be work now not fun. I now ask for $250 to read and review and prefer hard copy sent to me.I also proof read for grammar and make vocab suggestions. The editor is supposed to do that but it seems in many cases the editor gave the book to his child in the 6th grade to proof read.

  19. Several commenters have expressed “if you don’t have anything good to say…” and I agree but I recently did a review of a very prominent multiple best seller adventure/thriller novelist. In the story he relates how B-52 bombers bombed Japan in 1945. B-29’s did most of that. The first B-52 did not fly until 1954. I really blasted him for that error in my review and will in all historical errors in any reviews.

  20. I haven’t had the practice of writing reviews but recently I figured I should write one for the book “When Breath Becomes Air” by Paul Kalinthini. I haven’t gotten into writing it thought, cause I feel I should incorporate every detail into the review. After reading your post I’m thinking otherwise. Any light to shed on how I could begin?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.