Book reports were big when I was growing up in the sixties.
In first grade, we were asked to write a sentence about each book we read. For that, we got a star on our reading chart. I had more stars than anyone else in first grade. I was proud of that. I read lots and lots of books about Dick and Jane and Sally, I remember. I have no record of what I wrote about those books. I liked them, though.
In sixth grade, we were asked to read a book a week and to write a one-page summary of the book. Were we allowed to read anything we wanted? Oh no, this was 1967, and we were required to read fifteen history books and fifteen biographies as well as fifteen books about science and nature. We were not allowed to read fiction; fiction was considered too easy, something we would be doing anyway. I plugged away through books about Genghis Khan and the Silk Road and Alexander the Great. After a steady diet of fiction in my early elementary years, I found to my surprise that I loved nonfiction.
There was more required reading in high school and college, but again I have no record of those books. I remember some I loved (Don Quixote, Tom Sawyer, The Odyssey, The Metamorphosis), some I liked (Jane Eyre), and some I hated (Heart of Darkness).
It wasn't until I joined the Book-a-Week online club back in the late 1990's that I started writing reviews of every book I read. I apparently thought I was writing some sort of clever haiku-ish reviews in those years.
Read and grimace....
The first book review I wrote for which I have a record was for a fiction novel I read in January of 1998 called West of Venus by Judy Troy. Here is my complete review: "Holly Parker learns to love." No rating.
Later in January of that year I read Catcher in the Rye. Here are my wise words about that novel: "Very true. Lots to think about." 4/5 stars.
The Magician's Assistant by Ann Patchett, which I also read in January of 1998, I reviewed by writing: "Magic and tricks." 4/5 stars.
In February, I reviewed Animal Husbandry by Laura Zigman: "Old cow, new cow!" 3/5 stars. At least these words are evocative of the book.
The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks got "Sweet. Sad." with a generous 3/5 stars.
Visitors by Anita Brookner: "Old lady is lonely...." 3/5 stars.
Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding, which I read in July, was a 4/5 star read for me. "Love it! Calories: 0"
I read several Barbara Kingsolver books that year including Animal Dreams in November. I could have probably put the same review for all the Kingsolver books: "A very wise book."
I seem to have read mostly forgettable fiction and light mysteries that first year of reviewing. But I did read a nonfiction book, Civility: Manners, Morals, and the Etiquette of Democracy by Stephen L. Carter, that has always stayed with me. 5/5 stars. "The best book of the year." A better review of this book might have led to it being more widely read, and goodness knows, we could use that.
What are the first books you reviewed?
When did you start reviewing books?
Have you always written brilliant reviews?
Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. Each Tuesday That Artsy Reader Girl assigns a topic and then post her top ten list that fits that topic. You’re more than welcome to join her and create your own top ten (or 2, 5, 20, etc.) list as well. Feel free to put a unique spin on the topic to make it work for you! Please link back to That Artsy Reader Girl in your own post so that others know where to find more information.