Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The 5 Finger Method for…Book Reviews?

Litchfield Book Store 
Last week, I was shopping in a little bookstore with a friend in Pawley’s Island, South Carolina. We came across a “Reading Journal.” The entry prompts included obvious categories such as the title of the book, author, date read, and so forth but it also had a series of questions about the writing of the book itself.

For example, one of the questions asked, “On a scale of 1-5, with five being excellent, how would you rate the pace of the book? Did it keep you engaged or was it so slow you fell asleep?”

There were at least ten questions in this section on the characters, setting, and plot. Each question had the numbers 1 2 3 4 5 following it along with a line for comment.

The next question asked, “Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?”

The journal was intended to record what you read. It could be used by an individual or with a book club to prepare for a book discussion.

I saw this little journal as a great way for readers to draft a book review. It reminded me of some of tools I uncovered in my research. I am often asked how to write a book review for Amazon by people who have read Breathing on Her Own. You may be surprised at the number of people who have never left a review for any book. Then again, you may be one of them.

Most people I talk with want something easy to implement. So…I created this tool. I call it the Five Finger Method for Book Reviews. Basically, you give the book a point for each area. You can give half points, of course, but that requires bending your finger at the knuckle…oh the complexity of it all…

Today I offer you this little guideline. Readers, use it to write a review for Amazon. Writers, use it to evaluate your own writing before it goes to press. (Ask yourself these questions as you reread your first, second, or third draft.) 

Step 1 (30 seconds, tops)
If you agree with a statement, give one point (or do the knuckle-bender thing).

The story plot is engaging/entertaining   
The story is well written- flows nicely
The story comes to a satisfying end
The characters are believable/identifiable/ or have depth
I would read more from this author

Step 2 (1-2 minutes)
Complete one of these two questions and be as specific as possible:

I would (or would not) recommend this book because…


This book resonated with me because… (Or …Although this book did not resonate with me, I think it…)

There you have it. The number in Step 1 reveals how many stars you will give it and your comments are written in Step 2. Easy. Of course you can say more, but you don’t have to do so.

Here is an example:
Talk of the Town by Lisa Wingate

1  pt.  The story plot is engaging/entertaining         
1 pt.  The story is well written- flows nicely
1  pt.  The story comes to a satisfying end
.5 pt.  The characters are believable/identifiable/ or have depth
1  pt.  I would read more from this author

I would recommend this book because it is fast paced and entertaining. Wingate’s humor is engaging. I would definitely read more books by Lisa Wingate.

Now you try it. Don’t have anything to read for this review? Might I suggest a little novel called Breathing on Her Own?  Oh, you’ve heard that one before…Can’t blame a girl for tryin,’ right?



  1. Love it and love your sense of humor! Maybe I should go back and tweak the review I wrote for your novel! :) Thanks for sharing.

    1. LOL Tweak nothing! I appreciated your review! I thought this my simplify it for those who think they can't do it! Thank you for commenting. That is always encouraging.

  2. I like the "finger bendy" method! I try now to always review books since I, too, rely on them so much.

    1. Super! I'm glad it was helpful and so glad to hear you see the value in writing reviews!


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