Reviewing books is like being back in grade school and having to write book reports again, the only difference is my taste and wisdom. With age comes the wisdom, and with exposure comes the changes in taste. Where at one point I would only pick up a book with something fantastical or paranormal in its pages, now I find even chicklit, mystery, and modern romance tickles my fancy on occasion.
For a writer, reviewing books can act as a sounding board for writing styles, plot likes and dislikes, and even opinions on aesthetics, ie book covers, paper stock, and in-text embellishments. Writing a review of something, anything, allows the writer to breakdown into parts exactly what they are feeling and pull those bits out of their brains and into words. Take that one step further and talk through the story with someone and you'd be surprised what you'll find. If you add a second or third person into that pre-writing dialogue the results are even more powerful.
Reading other author's work broadens a writer's understanding of how words can be manipulated. The tone in a scene can create different moods and evoke different feelings from a reader just by changing a few details and reading a wide range of genres can educate a writer on how to manipulate their own words to fit their own needs. Seeing how Stephen King frames a scene to be creepy and suspenseful is much different than how Laurell K. Hamilton writes Anita Blake. Being able to read both of those works and then incorporate the same feelings, how you want them when you want them, within your own work wouldn't have been possible without reading their works first. How about plot magic systems are great examples. Brandon Sanderson is an epic world weaver. His magic systems are creative and unlike anything I've ever read anywhere else, but reading his Warbreaker and being able to compare what worked and what didn't and what was enjoyable and what could have been different, needs a contrasting piece of writing to relate to. So pick up Catherine Asaro's Lost Continent series and debate the two.
Are you a bibliophile or a bookworm? Do you review your books with friends and family verbally or maybe even through goodreads or a bookseller?
Share your experiences below and where you post reviews if you do.