How to appreciate novels

How to appreciate novels

This question originally appeared on Quora: How do I understand and appreciate books better?
How to appreciate novelsAnswer by Ankit Sethi:

According to me, what you’re really interested in finding out is:

How do I progress from having an opinion to having an informed opinion?

I’ll assume that you’re broadly talking about literary and genre fiction and not, say, cookbooks and car manuals. With that, here’re my thoughts about the method and the motivation:

1) Antiquity Blues : Go back. Way way back. Read the epics of your culture and of every other significant ancient culture. Brush up on the Greek, Norse, Egyptian, Sumerian, Arthurian, Meso-American, Vedic, and Oriental mythologies and legendariums. These are the earliest stories and collected thoughts of the human race. Everything that follows is indebted to them and identifying their influence on what you read is a pretty good start to appreciating the quality of a book. Read them on Wikipedia if you must, must be aware of them.

2) A Little Knowledge. : can be a pretty cool thing to have. After all, you’re practically asking how to be dilettante. Religion and philosophy have long histories, and while it may be impractical to delve deep into the nuances of Kant or Kaballah, it is important to have a brief understanding of the Eight-fold Path or what Nietzsche’s Ubermensch is all about. Pick up an encyclopedia or read Sophie’s World (if you want your Big Ideas wrapped inside a fictional framework).

3) Eat Your Broccoli : Read all of Shakespeare. Try out at least one book by every “classic” author — the Dickens, the Austens, the Mark Twains, the whathaveyous. If you’re superficial (like me) and don’t want to endure the outdated aesthetic, watch a cinematic adaptation. The broader point I’m trying to make with this and the previous two paragraphs is that it is essential to build perspective — to know enough about what was already present in our world culture and how the text in front of you stacks before it. It adds a second layer of understanding when you spot the archetypes behind characters. Furthermore, it keeps you from getting over-awed by amateurish simulacra that get pumped out in our mass media. There’s a reason I’m comparing all this to broccoli. The true turd of literary criticism cannot be passed unless one ingests copious amount of dense, fibrous musings about the human condition.

Interlude : All of this, by the way, is equally useful, if not in substance, then in method, for the purpose of appreciating specific genre fiction like fantasy, science-fiction, or crime thrillers. Are spy novels your thang? Bone up on Graham Greene, Ian Fleming, W. Somerset Maugham and John Le Carre. Does science fiction tickle your warp drive? Asimov, Dick, Pohl et al, are your homies. The point is again — spit out the roofie-laden punch served by mass-market shills like Coelho and have a margarita with the masters instead.

4) Cool Story, Bro : An overly reductive way to think about your objective is that your purpose is to be unimpressed by as much as possible. Once you start understanding how good the writing (in any genre) can get, most of what is out there will seem mundane. To assuage any digging-myself-into-a-hole type fears, rest assured that there are hundreds of master prose stylists (contemporary and classic) waiting to be discovered and you’ll never run short. Simultaneously, you will be able to finally have the vocabulary for expressing why a book is mediocre or bad (or possibly, how it transcends all previous attempts with similar themes). I refer to vocabulary in not the traditional sense, but as a sum total of the texts you’ve read, where the same themes have been tackled with greater or lesser skill and nuance. If you read long enough, you’ll finally get to that hipster wet dream — giving a one star rating to a universally loved classic with 600 words to back it up!

5) Only The Sith Deal In Absolutes : I end with a word of warning. Let your passion drive you to the extent that it must. However, to achieve your objective is to commit your time and effort to a new way of life. Your free time will be implicitly prioritized for a solitary activity, and much like the TV in Joey and Chandler’s living room, everything else will be focused around it. Fun though it may be, you simply can’t make a task out of it. Not every bibliophile can or should want to regress into their houses for hours on end, ticking off mental lists of works they need to get through. Make sure to re-read old favorites. Buy mediocre fluff occasionally to keep your reading well calibrated, as well as to have some silly fun. Stop being a cultural leech and actually start writing after a point. Even if it’s bad, the fact that you know it’s bad is a great sign. A dissonant, interior angst at having read dozens of great books but having nothing to say about them excepting a warm feeling inside is perfectly par for the course. It is far nobler to have too meager and too humble an opinion to offer about the books you read, than being the kind of deluded blowhard who shouts from rooftops and Twitter accounts that Khaled Hosseini is the best living writer in the world.

Homework Assignment : Pick up the complete Asterix collection. Read them with Google and a fine tooth comb. Beyond the silly puns and slapstick, there is a whole other layer of tributes and references to literature, art and music. Figure that stuff out!

BOOKS! ARE!! AWESOME.

Is that too simple? I don’t think so. Do I even need to clarify this fact? Probably not! Bookworms LOVE BOOKS. We ALL LOVE BOOKS. We are all screaming for books! GIVE THEM ALL TO US OKAY?! We love st stroke and smell and hug our precious children but I want you to just stop for a moment and ask yourself the following questions

  • Do you know the author?
  • do you know how much effort that put into the book?
  • Do you want to appreciate this author or book?
  • Do you want to express your love?

If your answer was YES to any one of these, please give me a muffin and read on! I think authors are MOSTLY fantastic people and that we should definitely try to appreciate our books BECAUSE WHY THE HECK NOT? We love them and it’s very easy to help that book on its own journey.

1. Libraries Libraries Libraries

first off, I think we should LOVE AND APPRECIATE OUR LIBRARIES. Free books! Some people don’t even have A LIBRARY so make sure you use yours and appreciate it!

But anyways if you want to read a book, reserve the book from your library (or try to find it) or even request it from your library SO THE BOOK IS IN YOUR LIBRARY! This is not that much of a help, but it’s great!

Also, I hate how you spell the word library

2. Buy it!

Now I’m not saying we are all rich hobbits who can, in fact, I think a lot of us are broke bookworms. But if you can, then do! It helps authors a lot and who does NOT want to buy books. SO go to your bookstore and purchase a book with a pretty cover. Or even better BUY THE WHOLE BOOKSTORE. I mean ahem…what was I saying.

3. Giveaway

I mean not everyone can just do random flash giveaways, But if you receive an ARC of a book or even just have a book wouldn’t mind the book having another home, then do it! I’m quite selfish and will never do a giveaway.

I know Goodreads had a ‘hide a book day’ recently where you had to hide a book for someone to find. I thought that was an amazing idea! Anyways, giveaways are great chances to force other people to read a book you love.

4. Recommend it to friends

YOUR LIFE IS SAD IF YOU DON’T HAVE BOOK BUDDIES! I have a few bookish friends and I’m always showing them books I loved and letting them borrow my books because I love them so much. OKAY NOT ALWAYS but recently! And it’s really great. And if they have a birthday coming up, SHOVE SHOVE SHOVE into that gift bag!

And if you have no bookish buddies in real life, you can always text a friend or shout about it on Goodreads!

5. Boost the book online

To create hype about a book online

  • Take pictures of it for your very aesthetic Bookstagram
  • Tweet it about it (and include a picture)
  • Talk about on your blog
  • Or Tumblr, Or Pinterest
  • Or Facebook!

The point is SHARE IT ON SOCIAL MEDIA! Help spread the word of your favourite book. this way people can get excited about the book and they are aware of it!

6. Let the author know!

Now, most authors are super busy dragons BUT you’d be surprised at how many authors reply to tweets. So just @ them in a tweet, Dm them if you can or email them. Don’t go crazy but maybe leave a little message about a quote you loved or something about their book you can’t stop thinking about like your favourite character. They could see it (some authors will) and it can definitely brighten their day.

I know it can be super scary but you can give it a try? It’s super cool if they do see it and you are making someone’s day.

7. Write a review

*glares at all bloggers with a billion RTCs* AHEM. So you liked a book? WRITE A REVIEW. These are super hard (I find them much easier now) but Elise @ The Bookish Actress wrote a great post on tips for a good review.

Reviews can be hard to write but they do loads so know that your effort is WORTH IT. ANyways, you can upload this to Goodreads or your blog or even…

8. Publish reviews on retail sites

I’m including this as a separate point because 1) It IS SO SUPER IMPORTANT and 2) I need to reach 10 points okay. But okay. It honestly helps the author, the book, the publishers and your left eyebrow when you publish your review on AMAZON (or any other retail site) so it just cross-post it if you’ve written your review (AHEM, see point 7) it doesn’t take long at all! So do it.

Side note: I don’t sadly do this because I don’t have an anonymous Amazon account so like. I’m still trying to figure out a solution because I really want to support authors.

9. FANGIRL OKAY

Ways to fangirl over a book

  • ASDFGHJKL
  • LKJHGFDSA
  • ldsjfkd,jfmhsdjkfhkds
  • SAY ‘AGHHH I LOVED THIS’ 5 TIMES
  • Draw Fanart!
  • Write Fanfiction!
  • BE A GOOD FAN
  • here’s a muffin

10. Marry The Book

People have already married their bookshelves (?) but I haven’t yet because I’m not old enough. Will be happening soon and there’ll be an official wedding and all.

AS I WAS SAYING, you can just marry the book? It’s literally the PERFECT SOLUTION. The only problem is what if you marry one book and then read another book and like the latter book better so then you have to get divorced? BUT YOU STILL LOVE BOTH BOOKS. I AM RAMBLING HERE #bookwormproblems #ilsaproblems

How to appreciate novels

If you are an avid reader, then there are authors in your life. Lots of them. You may not know them personally, but you know the genius of their words.

As an author , my friends and family often ask how they can support me in my writing journey.

I mean, everyone knows that you can support an author by buying their books. That’s a no-brainer.

But what if their book isn’t yet published ? What if books aren’t in your current budget? What if the author already enjoys fame and fortune and you simply want to show some appreciation for their incredible work?

Here are 18 ways to support an author without spending a penny.

1. Follow them on social media

Authors are constantly looking to grow their readership , and social media is one of the primary channels for doing so.

2. Engage with them on social media

Go beyond liking or following and share, comment on, and retweet their content.

3. Sign up for their email list

Bonus for this good deed : you’ll often be the first to hear about giveaways and new book launches.

4. Read their blog

If they have a blog, check it out. The more eyes, the better.

5. Engage with their blog

Comment on posts and share your favorites with your friends. There’s nothing worse than writing a blog that feels like an echo chamber.

How to appreciate novels6. Thoughtfully review their books

Book reviews influence buying decisions , for better or for worse. If you enjoyed a book, leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads or Barnes and Noble.

7. Spotlight them on your blog

Offer to interview your favorite author on your blog. This is especially helpful for debut or self-published authors.

8. Review their book on your blog

Do you review books on your blog? Go ahead and slot their book(s) in.

9. Add their book(s) to your Goodreads lists

Let your fellow bookworms know the author’s book is on your ‘to read’ or ‘currently reading’ list.

10. Name-drop in conversation

If people ask about your new favorite books or authors, don’t hesitate to mention them.

11. Do the book club bump

Recommend your new favorite books and authors to your book club.

12. Go straight to the source

If you’re friend or a fan, why not drop the author an email or social post with compliments? It will absolutely make their day.

13. Don’t forget the library

You know, home of all the books ? Check out their book from the local library.

14. Plug the book locally

If your hometown library or bookstore isn’t already carrying the book, suggest it to them.

15. Take a selfless selfie

Share a photo of you with the book or the book against an exciting backdrop on social media and tag the author.

16. Show up when it matters

If the author lives nearby or is stopping in your area on a book tour, check out their release party or book signing and bring a couple of friends with you.

17. Get that book noticed

Read your hard copy in public (at the coffee shop, on the bus, at the airport), where other nosy readers will take note.

18. Pay it forward

Lend or gift your copy of the book to a friend who will enjoy it and ask that they do the same.

Authors truly appreciate any effort you make to help spread the word and support them.

You may even make a new friend or pen pal in the process.

Do you have good author karma? How else can we support authors? Let us know in the comments!

About the Author: Megan Sharma

Megan Sharma is an author and writing professional originally from Seattle, Washington and recently transplanted to the Midwest. In her nonfiction debut book on love and modern medicine, “Memoirs of a Surgeon’s Wife: I’m Throwing Your Damn Pager into the Ocean”, and on her weekly blog, The Savvy Surgeon’s Wife, she writes about love, parenting, writerly pursuits, and this daring adventure we call life.

I’m on a classics-mode. I’ve just finished re-reading Gaskell’s North and South (I bought the new Penguin Classics cover) and am now reading some Sherlock Holmes in hope to follow it up with either an Austen or a Bronte. Today’s post is inspired by this. Every Saturday I get the privilege of writing either a review or my thoughts on reading. Today, without a book to review I invite you to join a discussion on reading classics.

I’ve always found comfort and pleasure in reading classics. Majority of the people I know do not read the classics, despite being readers themselves. Their reasons begin with the language being too difficult and end with the storyline too distant to the present context. Classics are often seen as books read by literature majors or intellectuals. They carry a certain air of snobbery in them. Holding the more obscure books of Dickens or writers like Poe and Hardy, to some people, can be off putting. The general association with the classics is that they are too esoteric. In many ways there is truth to that, but today, I hope to share a few thoughts on reading classics.

I am not a literature major, nor an intellectual. If anything, I’d say I’m very much your average reader whose reading tastes range from lovely picture books to contemporary fiction. My penchant for classics wasn’t always there. I, too, initially found the books too daunting a task to read. I associate classics with book reports our high school teachers would torture us with. It’s possible these compulsory reading assignments have left a bad taste in the mouth of readers when it comes to classics. All that hullaballoo on character’s context, meaning of scenes and socio-political analysis of the book has left majority of us discouraged to read the classics. My love for classics however was obviously not at first sight, but it was a gradual affair. We began as acquaintances, eventually to friends, and then to close confidantes with private jokes between us. So how does one approach a classic?

How to appreciate novels Whilst Reading. A Portrait of Sofia Kramskoya, the Artist’s Wife (1866)
(Click image to be directed to source)

Find your classic (era). The term classic applies to a wide range of books across a long period of time. It might start with the first ever written novel, Murasaki’s Tales of Genji or books by Dostoevsky It’s wrong to assume that all classics are created equal. Not every classic is as thick as Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina or as dark and broody as Edgar Allan Poe’s novels. Like all forms of literature there are genres within the classics selection of a bookstore. By finding your era, whether you’d enjoy a good light Victorian/Elizabethan novel or maybe something more Gothic or shocking there’s always something that may appeal to you. My first classics were considered ‘children’s classics’ they were Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and Anne Sewell’s Black Beauty. From there I moved to Mark Twain, graduated to Jane Austen, Arthur Conan Doyle, and to James Barrie.

Read Slow and get Immersed. Classics aren’t written in our modern tongue. It is written with every mark of the period it was published. As daunting and challenging as it may be, I do suggest reading your first classic slow. Allow the book and the language to grow with you. It’s like immersing yourself in a different world. When I first forayed into ‘older’ classics I would stumble over sentences trying to understand their meaning, but when I got used to them saying “two and twenty” to mean twenty two years old. I got the hang of it. My mind started to bend itself to read the language as if it was second nature to me. Think of it as traveling to another country where the English may be mixed with their unique accents. It would take a few interactions to get the hang of it, but you do get it eventually. Once immersed in the book, the language becomes less problematic and almost easy to read.

Follow through with another classic. Once immersed, you rather get a hang of the language, while still drenched in it, it is best to read another one. Maybe read a book from the same author. In this way, the next book becomes easier to read. The ease in the language and the context is reward itself and may motivate you to read more classics. I read Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn back to back. I did the same with the Austen’s novels. There’s a momentum created by one classic that carries you along what could have been a difficult read. Personally, I find that when I jump from classic to contemporary or vice versa I find my mind at first muddled up and confused. It takes some time to switch back to the context of the book I’m reading.

Try again. If the first classic you got was a miss, find another one. You can even start with thinner books like Peter Pan or a child’s classic such as Alice in Wonderland or even Anne of Green Gables. Don’t jump from “I don’t read classics” to “Brother Karamazov” all too sudden. Reading classics, especially from someone who was traumatized by it, requires pacing.

Once you’ve tried and still hate it, then you may move on and maybe try some other time. Books match a period in our lives and sometimes at certain stages, we could prefer contemporary fiction and on other times, a classic can do us wonders. It would be great to have read a classic in one’s life, but I do not think it is evil not to have read any of them.

While I’m no professional in the reading of classics, these ‘steps’ were what worked for me. So, I ask:

Do you read classic literature? How did you get into it? What do you like or dislike about reading classics? I would love to know your thoughts.

“How does anyone read Wilkie’s best stuff and not immediately go seek out the rest?”

Most mystery lovers know of Wilkie Collins, beloved for his classics “The Woman in White” and “The Moonstone,” old-fashioned tales meant to be savored page-by-page by the fire late at night. Beyond that, however, one might accuse readers of what amounts to criminal neglect.

The evidence? While the two classics noted above have hundreds of thousands of ratings and thousands of reader reviews at goodreads.com, and their titles can be dropped into conversations among book readers with confidence that others will have read them, or at least plan to, the same cannot be said for his many other works. “No Name” and “Armadale,” both excellent novels written during the same creative years that produced the aforementioned classics, do not have as many reviews and ratings combined to come anywhere near “The Moonstone,” and that one is a distant runner-up to “The Woman in White.”

This is a woeful state of affairs, people. How does anyone read Wilkie’s best stuff and not immediately go seek out the rest? Admittedly, these other works do not live up Collins at his best, but they most certainly are worth your time.

My introduction to Collins came through a compendium of essays for mystery lovers called “Murder Ink,” edited by Dilys Winn. The volume contained a short list of “Books to be Read Aloud,” and one of the entries was “Anything by Wilkie Collins.”

Winn advised: “These are old-fashioned stories with hammy, improbable plots that somehow sound wonderful if you pretend you are Lunt and Fontanne and emote for all you’re worth.”

This endorsement, not surprisingly, made me seek out the man’s books. The two most popular ones were rather easy to track down. The others … not so much. Over the years, my wife and I have managed to acquire quite a few, and the digital age for all its accompanying curses has made finding those lesser-known works easier than ever.

Let’s look at a few samples from various periods in Collins’ life:

How to appreciate novels

BASIL

This is an early work, published in 1852, and while it is clear that Collins already had a keen grasp on how to keep pages turning, it is equally clear he was still working his way up to his best works.

The titular character is a young man from a family of means, who sees a beautiful young woman while out and about and instantly falls quite madly in love. He proceeds to follow her—or rather, stalk her—and quickly learns her father is a mere linen-draper and, thus, the instant love of his life is far beneath him in station. Undaunted, Basil (who in my mind was portrayed by a young John Malkovitch, because I often cast Wilkie Collins novels in my head) proceeds to make a deal with her father to arrange a secret marriage.

Thus commences a soap opera of lies, betrayals, shocks, horrors, attempted murder and sudden death. I could never quite root for Basil, because the poor wretch created most of his own problems, but it is a rather delicious mess and I rather enjoyed watching our poor hero’s life become something of a train wreck. And while the coincidences eventually become too implausible even for Edgar Rice Burroughs in one of his Mars books, the prose and the pace and the “what next” factor kept me going.

That ability to make a reader look ahead to the next chapter, I’m convinced, is a quality Collins and other writers learned while writing work to be serialized in magazines. Every chapter raises questions or foreshadows difficulties, and you’ve got to plunge ahead to find out what’s up.

How to appreciate novels

NO NAME

This one is magnificent, written in the 1860’s along with his best novels. Two sisters of quite different temperament see their genteel country life vanish thanks to the vagaries of British inheritance laws. The novel tells us how the Vanstone sisters cope with the loss of their fortune.

The novel, thankfully, follows the more impetuous of the two sisters, the one who is hell-bent on recovering that fortune. Magdalen’s plots and schemes, abetted by a colorful con man named Horatio Wragge, drive the plot. Her path to regaining the family property and money, however, is blocked by a rather cunning adversary in the person of Mrs. Lecount, housekeeper to the target of Magdalen’s schemes. The mental chess game between Magdalen and Lecount is amusing, and keeps the reader guessing.

Magdalen is an interesting protagonist. She teeters between bravery and boldness that make you cheer her on and despondency that makes you either feel sorry for her or wish she would just grow up. The novel does wrap up too neatly, but it is a splendid, old-fashioned read nonetheless.

How to appreciate novels

JEZEBEL’S DAUGHTER

This is the story of a woman with a bad reputation and a substantial debt, who hopes to see her daughter make a solid marriage. The book is not a whodunit; you will figure out the crimes quickly enough and have your suspicions confirmed right away. You likely will, however, keep turning pages to find out who might be the next victim or whether justice can prevail.

Published late in Collins’ career when he was in declining health, it is not on a par with his best. The plot depends upon some heavy coincidences. You occasionally will marvel at how the characters in this novel fail to put together simple clues.

Despite all that, as I read Collins’ rather smooth prose I imagined a stellar cast of actors moving through the book: Anjelica Huston, Hugh Laurie, Michael Caine, Cary Elwes, Keira Knightley, Wynona Ryder, John Cleese, Cate Blanchett. The novel became very much an old-fashioned black-and-white movie inside my skull, with an orchestral score and the ominous trilling of violins at all the right moments.

How to appreciate novels

THE EVIL GENIUS

This Victorian soap opera appeared in 1886 and focuses on themes of divorce and child custody. The key figure is Sydney Westerfield, born to a seaman implicated in the theft of stolen diamond jewelry and a woman who simply does not care for Sydney at all. Sydney is relegated to a school for orphans run by an aunt, grows to eventually work there and worms her way into a job as a child’s governess for the wealthy Linley family. Alas, Sydney is quite fetching and Mister Linley falls in love with her, despite being married to a fine woman who is in many ways the moral center of the story. What follows is temptation, divorce, deception, old secrets revealed and, of course, coincidences. Aside from the theft and trial at the start of the tale there is no real crime here, but … it’s a great deal of fun. The meddling mother-in-law is a gem of a character, and a fine example of Wilkie’s particular evil genius.

I hope I have enticed you to explore Wilkie Collins’ work. You can find a lot of his novels, plays and short stories available for free via Project Gutenberg (gutenberg.org).

If you do read beyond “The Moonstone,” look me up on Twitter (@steve_goble) or Facebook (Steve Goble, Author). Let’s talk about these books!

Perspective on enjoying art beyond than a mere background photo

How to appreciate novels

Jan 8, 2019 · 6 min read

How to appreciate novels

When you come to an art exhibition, sometimes you may heard sayings like this,

“I came to that currently-hyped art exhibition, but I don’t understand what it means.”

“I think there is something wrong with the illustration, I just don’t know what it is.”

“I don’t get it. It’s just a straight line!”

In the end, it can be like…

“Screw it. I don’t understand any of this. I am not an artsy person.” *walks out of the room*

It’s fair enough fo r most people to have these kinds of perceptions towards a work of art. Art is different from design, where the intention of design’s is to solve real problems. On the other hand, art is a form of expression from its artist that allow the viewers to relate to it, learn from it, or be inspired by it. It connects with people in different ways, and can be interpreted differently.

“Good art is interpreted. Good design is understood.”

How to appreciate novels

I am excited at how my hometown started to adopt more art exhibitions. However, there are phenomenons on how most people may only make the artwork a background image.

It’s also not rare to find unfortunate events where some people wants to take selfies with an artwork, but actually ruin the display due to their ignorance that forgot to preserve the work.

Some people may also took too much time posing for photos in various positions in front of an artwork, preventing other visitors from enjoying the art in peace.

There is nothing wrong with taking a selfie with an artwork. In fact, it may be one of the fun perks of visiting an exhibition. In order to respond, let’s try not to see it from ignorance perspective. Maybe people are acting that way because we don’t know how to actually enjoy an art besides sightseeing and taking selfies.

Maybe we haven’t understand how to truly appreciate a work of art.

We can rant about the behaviors of people who ruined the artwork if a similar tragedy happens, but I feel like it’s better if we can share how you can start appreciating art, and make your visit to a gallery or exhibition even memorable beyond making it as a background.

We, as millennials can actually start appreciating art, so beyond making an artwork a background photo, we can convey a personal view from the artist.

How to appreciate novels

If you are an avid reader, then there are authors in your life. Lots of them. You may not know them personally, but you know the genius of their words.

As an author , my friends and family often ask how they can support me in my writing journey.

I mean, everyone knows that you can support an author by buying their books. That’s a no-brainer.

But what if their book isn’t yet published ? What if books aren’t in your current budget? What if the author already enjoys fame and fortune and you simply want to show some appreciation for their incredible work?

Here are 18 ways to support an author without spending a penny.

1. Follow them on social media

Authors are constantly looking to grow their readership , and social media is one of the primary channels for doing so.

2. Engage with them on social media

Go beyond liking or following and share, comment on, and retweet their content.

3. Sign up for their email list

Bonus for this good deed : you’ll often be the first to hear about giveaways and new book launches.

4. Read their blog

If they have a blog, check it out. The more eyes, the better.

5. Engage with their blog

Comment on posts and share your favorites with your friends. There’s nothing worse than writing a blog that feels like an echo chamber.

How to appreciate novels6. Thoughtfully review their books

Book reviews influence buying decisions , for better or for worse. If you enjoyed a book, leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads or Barnes and Noble.

7. Spotlight them on your blog

Offer to interview your favorite author on your blog. This is especially helpful for debut or self-published authors.

8. Review their book on your blog

Do you review books on your blog? Go ahead and slot their book(s) in.

9. Add their book(s) to your Goodreads lists

Let your fellow bookworms know the author’s book is on your ‘to read’ or ‘currently reading’ list.

10. Name-drop in conversation

If people ask about your new favorite books or authors, don’t hesitate to mention them.

11. Do the book club bump

Recommend your new favorite books and authors to your book club.

12. Go straight to the source

If you’re friend or a fan, why not drop the author an email or social post with compliments? It will absolutely make their day.

13. Don’t forget the library

You know, home of all the books ? Check out their book from the local library.

14. Plug the book locally

If your hometown library or bookstore isn’t already carrying the book, suggest it to them.

15. Take a selfless selfie

Share a photo of you with the book or the book against an exciting backdrop on social media and tag the author.

16. Show up when it matters

If the author lives nearby or is stopping in your area on a book tour, check out their release party or book signing and bring a couple of friends with you.

17. Get that book noticed

Read your hard copy in public (at the coffee shop, on the bus, at the airport), where other nosy readers will take note.

18. Pay it forward

Lend or gift your copy of the book to a friend who will enjoy it and ask that they do the same.

Authors truly appreciate any effort you make to help spread the word and support them.

You may even make a new friend or pen pal in the process.

Do you have good author karma? How else can we support authors? Let us know in the comments!

About the Author: Megan Sharma

Megan Sharma is an author and writing professional originally from Seattle, Washington and recently transplanted to the Midwest. In her nonfiction debut book on love and modern medicine, “Memoirs of a Surgeon’s Wife: I’m Throwing Your Damn Pager into the Ocean”, and on her weekly blog, The Savvy Surgeon’s Wife, she writes about love, parenting, writerly pursuits, and this daring adventure we call life.

While a typical book report summarizes a title’s contents, critical appreciation book reports present greater challenges of analysis and evaluation. In addition to providing background information, you will also critique its thesis, sources, claims and overall effectiveness in reaching its goal. Using critical reading and analytical writing skills, you can create a report that offers honest criticism and intrigues potential readers.

Read the Book Actively

While skimming the boring parts and reading for basic comprehension might work for other assignments, your report’s success depends on a careful, involved reading of the book. This means asking questions, tracing the development of the author’s argument and assessing the author’s use of references to support the main points. The University of Wisconsin at Madison’s writing center suggests engaging with the text by underlining key passages, writing notes in the margins and outlining its main ideas. This will make it easier to find sections to support your evaluation as you write your first draft.

Identify the Thesis and Formulate Your Own

Stating the author’s purpose for writing the book in your introduction will inform readers of its goal from the beginning of your essay. Once you’ve finished reading and taking notes, write a thesis statement that incorporates both the book’s purpose and your evaluation of how well it meets this goal. For example, if you’re reviewing “The Great Gatsby,” the book’s purpose might be to portray the recklessness of the 1920s and its consequences. Your thesis might read, “From disturbing character relationships to symbolic settings, ‘The Great Gatsby’ presents a compelling portrayal of the recklessness of one of America’s most notorious eras: the Roaring ’20s.”

Give Your Readers Context

Because many people read book reviews to determine whether a title is worth their time, they may not know much about its contents. In your introduction or a separate paragraph following it, give readers any information they’ll need to follow your report. This might include a short list of the author’s credentials, a brief plot summary or an overview of major concepts in the book. Be careful not to make this section too lengthy; it’s easy to allow your summary to overtake the report at the expense of critical analysis.

Evaluate the Content

The body paragraphs of your report work together to describe how effectively the book meets its purpose. Look back at your thesis statement to review your overall position on the book. Then, brainstorm at least three aspects of the text that illustrate your appraisal. You might consider its organization, use of credible references, assumptions the author makes about the audience and the logic of its conclusions. If you’re reviewing a work of fiction, you might talk about narrative elements like memorable characters, unique themes or symbolism. Use direct quotes from the book to make your assertions supportable and specific.

Recap and Wrap-Up

The conclusion should review your main points in a way that does more than just summarize the report. Along with revisiting your overall appraisal, you might consider explaining how the book could be useful to readers. For example, you might state what types of readers would enjoy the book most or what academic classes it could be taught in. As a final sentence, offer an overall assessment of the work’s significance, whether it sheds new light on a topic or causes audiences to think about its subject in new ways.