Reviewed with the Wind

How to write a book review in two minutes

Readers often point to a lack of time as a reason for not getting around to writing a book review. Not knowing what to say is another popular reason. But with a focused approach, you really can write a helpful review in two minutes.

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If you’re looking to write a valuable review without giving up too much of your time, I have one word for you.


I’ve talked about book reviews before, and how they are not about you, the reader. Nor are they about the author. In fact, there are a whole heap of things they aren’t about. There’s more on that in my post, The Fault in Our Reviews.

Essentially, what book reviews are about comes down to just two things. 1 – the book. And 2 – the person thinking about buying it.

So if you want to get review writing down to a two minute sprint, those are the things to focus on.

On your marks

Imagine someone you’ve never met before asks you if they should buy the book you’ve just read. You don’t know anything about them. But you can ask them one question to determine if the book is suitable for them.

What do you ask them? Well, that’s the million dollar question. Because it’s going to be a different question for every single book you’ve ever read.

The potential reader knows the genre of the book. They know the premise. What don’t they know? I’m not talking spoilers here. I’m talking surprises.

Were you surprised by the amount of romance in your latest read? Or by a horrifying aspect of the main character’s personality? A clever plot twist? Or nothing at all?

Then you need to know if the potential reader likes romance, doesn’t mind an occasional sleepless night, loves not knowing what to expect next, or prefers books that follow predictable patterns. This will give you an ‘If you like a dash of romance in your paranormal suspense, you’ll enjoy this book’, kind of review. It will also suggest an appropriate title, such as ‘romantic ghost story’.

Get set

You may have noticed I haven’t yet mentioned star ratings. The reason for this is that many reviewers give a rating that reflects their personal enjoyment of the book. But that isn’t one of our focus areas.

Working out what you want to say first can help you choose the right rating. By ‘right’, I mean the rating that reflects how good the book is. Which actually has very little to do with how much you liked it. Other readers aren’t going to enjoy it just because you did.

Let’s say you dislike satirical comedy, and didn’t expect that from the genre and description. Does that make it a bad book? No. It’s just not for you. But someone else will love it. Or you might enjoy a book that has not been well researched and contains inaccuracies. That may not bother you, but would make the book unsuitable for a lot of other readers. Focusing on suitability enables you to be fair in your evaluation.

If you want to know more about star ratings, they are explained in my post,The Ask and No Answer.

And go!

Finally, the key thing to remember if you want to write a quick review, is to keep it short. It might sound obvious. But if your only references are school book reports or book blogs, this is a different skill set.

A review can be as brief as a title, a star rating, and a single comment. As long as the comment addresses suitability, and justifies the star rating you have given, that’s enough.

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