Have you ever wondered how I sometimes have tons of book reviews up super quickly? I thought I would share some of my book review writing process, especially after a bit of an odd review post. If you are interested to know how I get reviewing done quickly, which could help you even if you don’t write articles, check out the rest of this article.
I will lead by saying I did go to college for History and English, my undergrad was History with an English minor and I also went on to get a graduate degree in History. These majors are very reading heavy and I would have so much reading to do for every class. By the time I made it to grad school I had consumed a lot of text at a high rate of speed, though I still sat down and read as much as I could. I then had a mandatory class designed to make you a better historian. One of the first lessons in that class was something called Skeleton Reviewing. This is a skill you are told you must master before you write your thesis.
The basis of this reading style is that you read information from the back of the book, like the back cover or even inside covers, then the introduction, and conclusion. Your goal is to determine the layout of the book, what paragraphs or chapters are vital to what you are examining, and then fleshing out a brief review based on what you read from those core sections. This was a game changer for me. I could suddenly get through more than one book in a day and could actually remember and make strong arguments about the book based on what I had read. This skill sort of went dormant for a year or two, but when I started writing for The Nerdy Girl Express I knew it would come in handy.
As our resident book reviewer I sometimes receive multiple books in a week with deadlines that are often similar. My system for getting through these is an evolved version of that skeleton review system. What I do is first review all press materials and online information for the book, this oddly does not include reading other reviews, though the official skeleton system I learned did include that. I then create a hunk of the review discussing just the basis of the book and then I go through and examine parts of the book that focus on the parts I am most interest in. This could include certain characters or elements of the plot that stood out to me in the research I did. I then look at the writing style and if it is a series how it fits into the larger story of the series.
Now if I have the time or have chosen to review a book that I purchased I will actually take some time to read the book, though this is normally interrupted by review books that I have scheduled. When I go to conventions and purchase books those I always read cover to cover because I pay for those books. That is one rule I have, if I paid for it I am going to take the time to enjoy it even if I have to find a way to fit it into the schedule. I will say comics or graphic novel I can normally read without skeleton style reviewing, though in the case of a very long graphic novel I may use a bit of this process.
The only time that I have run into an issue is that sometimes I drafted out an article with phrasing that sounds like I have read the book or I will anticipate doing a preview instead of a full review, but will have written it with a tone similar to a completed book. I edit all my own article and sometimes when I am working fast I fall into a similar pattern. I recently realized I had done that with a book that I planned as a Preview, but wrote review in the title instead. When going back through the article I noticed that I had set it up very similarly to what I would write for a full review, but this was not the case. I went back through and correcting wording and noted I had not actually read the book yet. The article will be updated to show my thoughts after reading, though I am very sure the elements that stood out to me in the press information will still be my favorite portions of the book.
I thought since I had come across this article and realized it needed fixed that I could use it as an opportunity to share my process for book reviewing. I do know some people wonder how I get books done so quickly and thought others might be interested in learning a bit about my process. Again, I do not always use this method, but depending on how many books I’ve received or other deadlines I have I will have to use this system to get reviews posted. If you have any questions feel free to reach out and I can always give you some speed reviewing or speed reading tips.