Star Systems

blurry glowing star ornaments

I consider myself well-read, and I’m actively trying to increase my reading this year to broaden my horizons when it comes to writing. As part of my reading goal, I want to try book reviewing so I can build my own reference archive of books, plots, and characters I enjoyed, as well as a list of authors that inspire me.

In 2022, I started reading manga, wuxia, and danmei, and it was absolutely delightful year of discovering content that I didn’t even know existed. Everything I knew about wuxia came from films like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon or Hero, but those are nothing like what I’ve read and watched since.

This is going to be tricky because I will be reading more, but also need to backtrack and create reviews for books that I’ve already read and want to keep track of in the same way.

I’ve come up with a rough metric for the rating system, and will have to see how it plays out when I finish reading Babel: An Arcane History at the end of the week.

Articles I’ve read about book reviews generally included these things:

  • Summary of the book
  • Important aspects
  • Likes / dislikes
  • Rating
  • Conclusion (summary of the previous points)

A few went into more detail for each point:

  • Summary
    • About the book in your own words (don’t read the blurb out loud!)
    • Information about the author pertaining to the book (debut, part of a series, etc.)
  • Important / interesting aspects
    • Characters
    • World-building
    • Themes
    • Plot
    • Writing style
  • Likes / dislikes
    • Did the book meet expectations?
    • Was the ending satisfying?
    • Was it thought-provoking?
    • Did it provoke an emotional response?
    • What affected the rating (to a large or small degree)?
  • Rating
  • Conclusion
    • Summary of the above
    • Next steps
      • find similar books to read (yes/no)
      • read more books by the author (yes/no)
      • recommend the book to others (yes/no)

I’ve seen some BookTubers mention hard limits when providing their ratings (things that will make them DNF or one star a book no matter what). I’ve also seen some people give a higher rating on the basis that they don’t feel they were the ideal audience for the book. I don’t want to include anything like that, because if I start reading something, I intend to finish it, and if I’m reading it, I’m the intended audience. If I bought the book to read it. There are no other excuses. If the book was a gift, I’ll give myself some leeway.

The above breakdown includes points that I want to consider when reviewing, but I always want to include the following:

  • Dialogue
  • Narration
  • Scene

I’ve been sharing quotes from Babel on GoodReads as I make my way through the book, both dialogue and narration. I also shared some pictures of some footnotes that I found really weird. If I’m highlighting or annotating a lot in a book, that deserves a mention.

Lastly, I want to talk about specific scenes that I liked and disliked (one each).

This might be too much for a first time book reviewer to tackle, but this will mostly be for my own reference. If anyone else finds it beneficial, that’s a bonus!

I’m 42% of the way through the Babel ebook. I started Book III today, so I’m making good time on my reading schedule, and I’ve stuck to my blog and writing schedules so far!

We’ll see how my star system checks out when I’m ready to write the review!

Photo by Daniel Reche.

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