Mark my Book Reviews (Weekly Geeks 2009-16 AND 2009-17)

I didn’t get to last week’s Weekly Geeks assignment, so I’m doing a two-fer this time around – but I’ll go backwards and start with the current theme, courtesy of Bookish Ruth:

Do you use bookmarks or just grab whatever is handy to mark your page? Do you collect lots of different bookmarks or do you have a favorite one that you use exclusively? If you’re not someone who uses bookmarks on a regular basis, have you ever used anything odd to mark your place?

If you make your own bookmarks or have a bookmark collection, please feel free to share some pictures with the rest of us.

I definitely use bookmarks, and have for years – but I must confess that I am a reformed dog-earer. My first favorite bookmark was a silver-plated clip style; I think I still have it somewhere, although I haven’t used it for quite some time.

Book Bungee Bookmark  - Bookmark, Bookmarker, Book Mark

I found my favorite bookmarks a few years ago in the Levenger catalog (also online at Levenger.com). They’re a little pricey, but if you have a tendency to drop books like I do, few things will keep your place better than a sturdy, long-lasting Book Bungee. There’s even a version called the Writer’s Book Bungee that can hold pens and reading glasses in addition to your page – I just discovered it when looking up the pictures to include in this post, and I just might have to order myself one or two.

I also have a couple of elastic 4-Ribbon Bookmarks that work like the Bungees do, but are prettier. I bought mine at the LA Times Festival of Books in 2008, but they’re available online from Reading Comfort.com, which is also the source for the popular Book Buddy pillow that’s been sweeping the book-blog world recently. (I bought one of those at FoB last year, too!)

(Please note that I am mentioning these products because I have bought and used them myself – I have received no promotional material or incentives from the vendors!)

These bookmarks get a lot of use, since I’m always reading a book, and it’s nearly always one I’ll eventually review here. Last week’s Weekly Geeks topic was guest-posted by Care of Care’s Online Book Club and asked about review formats. She offered several options for response, but since I’m late I’m just going to take the first one, which gets to the basics:

1. Explain your review format – if you have one. Or maybe your rating system?

I didn’t have a review format for my first months of book blogging, but I implemented one at the beginning of 2008. By then, I’d been reading enough book blogs to get a sense of how people approached their reviews, and my structure was most influenced by Dewey and Literary Feline. I had a rating system before I settled on a review format, and I incorporated it into the structure of the review posts:

  • Picture of book cover
  • Title, including a link to the book’s listing on LibraryThing, where all of my books are cataloged
  • Author’s name, with a link to his/her website or blog, if available (if I can’t find anything else, I try to link to author info on the publisher’s website)
  • Publishing data: publisher, format, publication date, ISBN, genre, number of pages
  • First sentence, occasionally supplemented by another random two-sentence quote (“Teaser Tuesday“-style)
  • Book description, pasted from (and linked to) book or publisher’s website; I try not to get this info from Amazon, since I will include a purchasing link through my Amazon Associate account at the end of the review post
  • Comments: My discussion of the book here may include any or all of the following, but will include my overall opinion:
  Recap some plot points
  major themes
  characters
  critique of the writing style
  what appealed to me, and what didn’t
  personal reaction
  • Rating: 5 point scale, with fractional points (.25, .5, .75) used – I view this as a summary of my comments
  5 – outstanding
  4-4.75 – very good to excellent
  3-3.75 – average to better than average
  2-2.75 – unimpressive
  1-1.75 – disappointing
  • Recommendation: used instead of a rating for certain types of nonfiction only (how-to, prescriptive)
  • Book purchase link (to Amazon.com, as mentioned above)
  • Links to other bloggers’ reviews of the book, in keeping with Weekly Geeks policy

Occasionally I’ll vary things a bit if the book warrants it, but for the most part this seems to be working – I think my reviews are more effective with a structure than without. If you have an opinion on that, please let me know!

Working on your Mommy Mojo? Check out the review of Mojo Mom, and enter my giveaway by Saturday, May 16 to win a copy!  

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13 comments

  1. I use plain old bookmarks. My son swears by a certain kind, though. They’re small and metal and slip on the page. They have a little pointer on one side and he can mark the exact line he stopped on. I wish I could remember what they’re called.

  2. Kathy (Bermudaonion) – Those bookmarks sound pretty cool. Even if my page is marked, sometimes I can’t remember where on the page I left off.

  3. I love those book bungees from Levenger! I especially like them when I’m carrying a book around with me so I don’t lose the bookmark and my place in the book. I think they will last forever the way they’re made!

  4. Mmm. Levenger. That place is evil of its own kind. A good kind. Sort of.

    Me, I tend to use author promo bookmarks. The same kind that I send out whenever I trade books online. Go figure, huh?

  5. Terri – The elastics on some of my Book Bungees have frayed a bit, but that’s after literally years of use, and the bookmark itself is very sturdy. I’ve never lost one when it’s been in a book, but I have misplaced a couple at one point or another, and I hate that :-). I’m glad to find another fan!

    Susan – That’s a website I can’t let myself visit very often, to be honest :-).

    When I did trade books online more often, I used to enclose BookCrossing bookmarks. I still have some around, and I do send out books from giveaways sometimes, so maybe I should get back into doing that.

  6. I like bookmarks a little too much. I have far too many than I need. 🙂 I really have come to like the BookWorms and have been using those almost exclusively. Well, those and a ticket stub from a soccer game.

    You do a wonderful job with your reviews. I go back and forth with the formatting of mine–at least in private, but it always seems to end up coming out the same as it was. Haha. And I really like your rating system. I can’t bring myself to use quarter points, but it’s so tempting sometimes!

  7. Wendy (Literary Feline) – I think I have a couple of BookWorms-style bookmarks around the house, somewhere… :-). I like them too, but not as well as the elastic ones, because they do slip out sometimes.

    Sometimes I think I use the quarter points because I like to hedge my bets, but on the other hand, they do give me a little more opportunity to refine the rating – which I’m still a little ambivalent about assigning in the first place, to be honest.

  8. I too, think my reviews are bit better when structured but I keep changing up my formats anyway! You are impressively thorough. 🙂

  9. Care – I should think about changing up my format a bit – who wants to get too predictable :-)? I do try to be thorough, though. Thanks for a fun WG topic!