Reviews

Tuesday, 02 October 2012 18:14

The Art of Assessment: How to Review Anything by Magdalena Ball Featured

Written by
Rate this item
(0 votes)
The Art of Assessment: How to Review Anything [Paperback] By Magdalena Ball
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (May 25, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1477499865
ISBN-13: 978-1477499863

 

[Article first published as Book Review and Interview: The Art of Assessment by Magdalena Ball on Blogcritics.]

The Art of Assessment: How to Review Anything by Magdalena Ball makes quite a promise in its title, and Ball proves true to her word.

Employing her considerable experience as a reviewer and radio host through The Compulsive Reader, the author takes us through the qualities necessary in a professional reviewer, finding the products to assess, writing our findings in a clear, thoughtful, and substantiated way, honing our skills, and getting our reviews published—whether we are starting out or breaking into the professional leagues.

Ball gives advice for reviewing books (including sections on poetry, biography, children’s, how-to and academic works), concerts, CDs, film/video, restaurants and other products (including a section on mystery shopping). There are also sample reviews with sidebars; an ample section on interviewing authors to add depth to reviews; and two chapters delineating where we can get paid. (My favorite chapter was “Expert Opinion: Interviews with Successful Reviewers”.)

I can’t confirm that The Art of Assessment is a “complete guide to writing and publishing reviews of anything” (as the preface states) without having read other books on the subject for comparison, but this book has assisted me with my first music review, documentary review, and in forming better book reviews. It reminded me of the “heart” of what I do and why, and while I have not yet read the books the author recommends for reviewers, I consider this one my bible. (There are no sections for travel reviews, or on the organization required to be a reviewer, but in a recent interview Ball shares many resources for these areas.)

The paperback is excellent as a reference to quickly find various resources and tips, and the sidebars are useful. The Kindle version is also worth purchasing, as the convenience of always having the book to hand, and making use of the Bookmarks and Notes feature of the Kindle, will allow one to find specific points of interest, but the sidebars are not as well defined.

When I asked Ms. Ball how a good assessment might be considered an art form, she replied: “I think that writing a good assessment is like any kind of writing—there is always an element of art in it—the sense of what works and what doesn't; the “ear” that a reviewer develops by close, active reading. It’s also a skill, which can be learnt to a certain extent, but the creative element—the building of a new piece of writing; determining the overall approach; the theme of the review, and writing something that does justice to the work itself—is art.”

To that end, we are empowered to discover for ourselves what comes with life practice, and Ball shares what can be taught in short, pithy chapters, often backed with several resources. (These are invaluable as new reviewers are inundated with information online and by social consensus, but rarely armed with knowledge of how useful such information is.)

 

Reviewed by Joanna Celeste 

(http://joannaceleste.com)

January 2013

 

Read 81 times Last modified on Thursday, 11 November 2021 19:32

Comments powered by CComment

Latest Posts

  • The Creative Industry Needs to Look at Things Differently Post Budget 2022
    On 29 October 2021, the Finance Minister, Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz tabled Budget 2022 in the Malaysian parliament. RM50 million has been allocated for the arts and culture industry. This comes after a year and a half after the entire industry came to an absolute standstill. With…
  • ‘The Covid Positives’ – life lessons learnt from the pandemic by Phanindra Ivatury
    After a long drawn battle with the biggest catastrophe in our living memory, global humanity is finally getting to see some quintessential ray of light at the end of the treacherous tunnel in the form of COVID-19 vaccines, currently being rolled out to all parts of the globe. A ‘COVID-19…
  • Chaos of Whole Books
    Is it possible to read several books at once? Aneeta Sundararaj finds out. When I was a child, my cousin used to boast that he could read four storybooks at a time. As an adult, when he invested in an e-Reader, he continued to boast that he could…
  • Writing for You? Or for Me?
    Writing for You? Or for Me? ‘You must always write with your reader in mind.’ This was one of the first pieces of advice that I received when I began my writing career. Honestly, I found this extremely hard to do because more often than not, I couldn’t picture my…
  • One Book That Changed My Writing Life
    My latest novel, The Age of Smiling Secrets was shortlisted for two categories in the Book Award 2020 organised by the National Library of Malaysia. When I reflected on the journey that this book has taken, I acknowledged the enormous influence of one of my all-time favourite books, Joseph Anton:…