How To Write An Informative And Entertaining Book Review, By Jerome Eberle

When one is writing a book review, whether in response to an online purchase or in an academic context, it is important to keep in mind that the review will garner the most appreciation if it is both informative and entertaining. Before and while reading the book there are certain considerations that will help the review be successful. Some of these include: writing for the audience; focusing on main characters and themes of the book; and including a critical analysis. The general public, as an audience, will be receptive to a casual style of writing, while a more technical or academic audience will require more specialized language. It is a good idea to avoid subplots and minor characters and focus on detailing the core themes presented by the author. And, of course, while it is pleasant to give a plot synopsis, readers of the review are really looking for a critical analysis backed by detailed reasons and examples.

Jerome Eberle, a writing and editing professional based in Chicago, is a former Publishing Assistant at the American Library Association. He now works at the American Academy of Periodontology and still contributes book reviews to the ALA’s trade publication Booklist Magazine.


Jerome Eberle on the Editing Process

While the editing process is different at each publishing house, there are essentially three steps that are followed by most.

The first is typically the macro edit, during which the editor will give general notes to the author about the content and expect the author to use those to edit his or her manuscript.

Second is the line edit, during which the editor goes through content line by line, highlighting inconsistencies and anything else that may need changing. This is also when the editor must help the author align his or her writing to fit the house style guidelines.

Lastly, there is the copy edit, during which typos, spelling, and punctuation are corrected, and facts and permissions are verified.

As Editorial Coordinator in the publications and marketing departments of the American Academy of Periodontology, Jerome Eberle provides editorial support. He received his degree in English literature in 2000 and his certificate in editing in 2008.

Booklist Magazine, By Jerome Eberle

Public and school libraries must use their limited resources to keep their shelves stocked with material that is relevant and of interest to their patrons. They are constantly confronted with a bewildering array of potential acquisitions – newly-printed books, books on tape, movies, and other resources for their patrons to borrow or use in the library. The American Library Association began publishing Booklist Magazine in 1905 to provide libraries with a tool to help them sort through the many new offerings and determine which would be the most suitable for acquisition.

The magazine, which is published monthly during July and August and semi-monthly for the rest of the year, originally published very brief reviews of newly published books. These reviews were intended to be used by librarians when determining which books to buy. By World War II, however, the reviews had become more substantial, and the magazine had begun including articles of interest to librarians.

Today, Booklist continues to publish and distribute its traditional printed editions and also maintains an active online presence with exclusive content and a vast database of searchable reviews. Librarians can access short reviews of books and search the database by genre, author, or other variables to find suggested reading lists. One of Booklist Magazine’s most popular features is its Editor’s Choice list of outstanding books and other media presentations. The Editor’s Choice selections culminate in annual “Top of the List” awards, given to the best work in each of a number of categories. In addition, Booklist produces Book Links, a quarterly supplement targeted to a broader audience interested in helping children find and use resources based on high-quality literature.

About the author: A professional editor and graduate of North Park University in Chicago, Jerome Eberle is a former member of the editorial staff of Booklist Magazine.

The American Library Association

By Jerome Eberle

Founded in response to a call for a Convention of Librarians at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, the American Library Association (ALA) promotes libraries, information services, and the librarian’s profession worldwide. A non-government organization (NGO) and essentially non-partisan, the ALA is a strong advocate of education, freedom of access to information and related issues. Membership is open to all, but the majority of members are American library science professionals.

Members of the ALA may join one of 11 specialized membership divisions, such as the American Association of School Librarians (AASL), the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), and the Library Information Technology Association (LITA). Members may also join one or more of the 17 specialized or issue-oriented roundtables, such as International Relations and Intellectual Freedom, or roundtables on more library-specific topics such as Library History and Library Support Staff Interests.

The ALA maintains several program-oriented offices such as the Office of Intellectual Freedom, the Office of Government Relations, and the Office for Library Advocacy. These offices provide specialized support to the association in their particular areas. One of the ALA’s most prominent duties is the accreditation of programs leading to master’s degrees in library science and information technology. The Office for Accreditation is the association’s liaison with colleges and universities for that purpose, and provides a host of services related to accreditation.

The ALA hosts a number of conferences, symposia and other gatherings throughout the year. Some, like the annual conference and the midwinter meeting, are general in nature, while others address topics such as budgeting and finance or e-learning. In addition, the ALA publishes a magazine, Booklist, which provides short reviews of newly-published books and other resources to help librarians make purchasing decisions.

About the author: A resident of Chicago and a graduate of North Park University, Jerome Eberle worked with the ALA and in the editorial division of Booklist Magazine.