Reading does not always have to be a chore if a person finds the right book and keeps an open mind.
As part of National Book Review Month, or NaRMo, a workshop was held on how to write book reviews on Monday Feb. 12 in the Harding Lounge of Welles Hall. The event was hosted by student coordinator senior Heather Molzon and assistant coordinator and book review editor junior Isabel Keane.
NaRMo was founded in Geneseo two years ago by assistant professor of English Lytton Smith in order to inspire reading and reviewing literature. Students and faculty of any major are encouraged to read a book in any of the five genres—fiction, non-fiction, drama, poetry and children’s books—and write a review of that book.
Although the organization is small, Molzon hopes that it will expand in the future.
“It’s a little smaller since it’s only in its third year, but we want it to progress, be interdisciplinary and extend past the Geneseo campus,” Molzon said.
Molzon and Keane stressed that word count didn’t matter—it could be as short as 100 words or as long as 1,000. Then they outlined the five steps to writing a good review.
The first step is to give a short summary about the book and author. Secondly, the review should have a description of the book’s key ideas and major plot points, while avoiding spoilers. The third step is to choose a quote that describes the book and shows its meaning.
Afterwards, the book review should include an explanation as to why someone would enjoy the book.
“What makes you care about the book? Why might it matter to a reader? What does it allow us to think, feel, or see?” according to Molzon and Keane’s presentation.
The fifth and final step is to sum up the argument by stating the book’s relevance in the world.
Throughout the workshop, Molzon and Keane encouraged a relaxed environment and made themselves available to help anyone who was struggling. For childhood special education and English literature double major senior Grace Rowan, the workshop was informative and eye opening.
“What I liked most about this workshop was learning how to critique literature. I think it’s really easy to revert back to ‘I like it’ and that’s it or ‘I don’t like it,’” Rowan said. “But actually giving reasons why you should read in general is bringing awareness to campus and that’s really beneficial to the campus as a whole.”
Toward the end of the workshop, each attendee had finished a review, which left Molzon and Keane to walk the attendees through the steps of submitting the review to NaRMo. A sense of satisfaction spread through the room as each person pressed submit. Molzon noted how emphasizing the importance of on-campus reading is different from assigned readings in academic disciplines.
“I think especially on the Geneseo campus we just want to get people talking about literature more and writing about literature more,” Molzon said. “I think sometimes reading can be seen as only an academic entity. We want to make it recreational and fun.”
“Book reviews are important to help emerging writers be exposed to modern literature, because we know the classics are classics and sometimes it’s easy to revert back to those,” Molzon said. “But we want to be exploring new literature and making sure everyone is aware that NaRMo is going on.”
NaRMo will be hosting two more events this month: “Warm up to a Good Book” in Seneca Hall on Tuesday Feb. 20 and a literary trivia night on Feb. 27. With all of these events, NaRMo will continue to spread its message to keep reading alive