How to Write a Thoughtful Book Review

If you see a book with a lot of reviews, does it make you want to buy it? If a ‘review’ simply says ‘it’s great’, or ‘buy this book’ is that enough for you to want to spend money to read the book?

A good book review will give the reader something to think about before they decide whether or not it is for them. Reviews are important to authors as certain algorithms show that the more reviews a book has, the more sales the book generates. Great books inspire readers so much that they want to talk about them and what better place to spread the word than to write a review and post it in a prominent place. Similarly, if you feel the author could have improved the book in some way, and you have some useful comments to contribute, leave a constructive review. If you feel disposed to write a review for a book you have just read, and aren’t sure how to do it, here is a simple guide.

Read the book. This seems obvious, but I have seen ‘reviews’ where people have said ‘I didn’t finish the book’ and then give it a very low rating. I have started some novels that are just so badly written that I can’t waste another minute of my time on them, but I just move on to the next book in my reading pile. If you don’t read the book, don’t leave a review.

Don’t feel obligated to give a glowing review. You can always tell the reviews that have been written by friends of the author. They usually have five stars and talk more about the author’s talent than give the reader any insight into the content of the book. Were you unsatisfied with the ending or did the blurb not accurately describe the story? For you to leave a review, the book must have had some impact on you, so state the facts simply and leave out the gushing adjectives.

Be constructive with your criticism. Whether you enjoy reading the book or not, there will be some people, places or events that stand out. If you feel there is too much dialogue, or not enough description, then say so in your review, but also point out anything you may have learned from reading the book or any characters that you could identify with in some way. Did the book make you laugh or cry? Was it a gripping read that you couldn’t put down? Did you like the author’s writing style? Whatever you say will have an impact on other readers and the author, so give your view but be kind.

Don’t leave a one sentence statement such as ‘it’s great’ or ‘buy this book’. It doesn’t help anyone.

As a reader, I have written reviews for a lot of great, good, and those-that-have-potential books. As an author, I have received a lot of great feedback in the form of reviews from people who have enjoyed my books. You get people who take issue with a particular subject because it offends their particular tastes, and that’s OK as long as they say that in their reviews. When I am looking to purchase new books, I look at the five-stars and the two-stars to get a good overview of readers’ thoughts.

Keep writing book reviews, but be kind, and if you can’t be kind just move on to the next book. A well-written book review will always be appreciated by an author.

Career Book Review: Job Searching After 50 by Carol Silvis – A Mature Worker’s Competitive Advantage

Long-term unemployment is recognized as any individual who has been jobless for six months or longer. Currently, 5.8 million Americans define that category; and among them, are many people over the age of 50. Older adults face unique challenges when seeking employment.

Course Technology publishes a variety of Professional, Reference and Technology titles. One of its current releases is Job Hunting After 50 by Carol A. Silvis.

Silvis has a master’s degree in Adult Education and is an assistant director and department chair at a Pennsylvania business institute. She also presents workshops and seminars for schools, businesses and professional organizations.

Eight chapters comprise Silvis’s message. Following are highlights from each topic to help jumpstart your job search as a mature worker:

Skills and Qualifications

The job search process begins by matching your unique abilities with a company that needs them. Define your purpose for working. Whether it’s full or part-time will guide your employment pursuits. Shift the focus from your age to how your workplace, transferable and life skills meet the needs of the employer. Consider too, your personal traits, like energetic and forward thinking, vs. the old-fashioned ways of a mature worker. Share only relevant abilities vs. listing every duty you’ve done over your 30-year career span. Too much experience can shun an employer. This is the age of lifelong learning. Keep your skills current by attending classes, workshops, earning a degree or certification, participating in online webinars, etc.

Resumes and Cover Letters

No career assessment would be complete without attention to resumes and cover letters. For older workers, key elements to a successful approach include:

  • Accomplishments vs. Duties. Highlight your unique value-added accomplishments at companies you worked for, vs. mere duties.
  • Contact Information. Provide any links to your professional online presence, including blogs and/or websites.
  • Digital Resumes. Write a targeted resume for each desired position. Use industry-specific keywords to help with search engine optimization (SEO), to increase the odds of being read by a person.
  • Education and Training. If you earned your degree more than 20 years ago, omit your graduation date.
  • Qualifications Summary vs. Objective. A qualifications summary highlights your major accomplishments, skills, education and personal traits. It’s a brief paragraph or bulleted list that employers can easily scan; and provides more insight than an objective.

Always include a well-written cover letter. It increases your odds of grabbing an employer’s attention; and provides an opportunity to expand on information not resume appropriate, including salary history.

Technology

Today, computer skills are essential, both in the workplace and during your job search. Increasingly, employers require such abilities for hire; and many available jobs are now posted exclusively online. Research a company’s website to determine its key players. Use industry-related key words in online applications, cover letters and resumes. “This is not the time to say you are too old to use technology or have no use for it,” says Silvis.

Now, social networking is a necessary component of your job search. Maintain a professional presence on the big three platforms: Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Many employers use these sites as recruitment tools; and mastering them can increase your odds of being discovered for industry-related positions.

Networking

Networking is a ubiquitous word; and its need is often downplayed, especially regarding mature workers. “Creating a solid support system is important for job seekers, especially as they age,” says Silvis. It’s challenging to conduct job searches in a healthy economy and even tougher in an anemic one.

Build and nurture long-term relationships; and you’re networking. It’s also a two-way process. Before constructing a contact list, define your networking goals. The most successful network includes a mix of both personal and professional contacts. Consider everyone you know, including your dentist, hair stylist, Post Office clerk, etc. Choose enthusiastic, optimistic people. Finding a job is often a numbers game; and it’s never too late to begin or resume networking.

Attitude, Appearance and Energy

It’s not easy to maintain a positive attitude when you experience a job loss before you’re ready to retire; but you must, especially as a mature worker.

It’s hard to hear that your appearance needs updated, but it may be a roadblock in your job search. Comb-overs on balding men, and outdated hairstyles can convey antiquated skills as well. Consider doing a makeover at a department store or salon. It will not only enhance your appearance but boost your self-confidence too.

Employers seek candidates who will fit in and bring positive energy to the workplace.

Mistakes Job Seekers Over 50 Make

  • Failing to Get Along with Other Generations. Today’s workplace is multi-generational, with as many as four different generations working together. As a mature worker, you must ask yourself how you’d feel being interviewed by someone your children’s or grandchildren’s age? Could you interact as a colleague instead of a parent figure?
  • Unwillingness to Change. A younger interviewer may be concerned that an older worker is stuck in their comfort zone; and resists change. Expand and consider how your skills can be industry-transcendent, if your former field is extinct.
  • Being Overqualified. “Having too much baggage, even in the form of experience, should not be mentioned,” says Silvis. Focus on specific skills and accomplishments, not your previous titles, which can make you seem overqualified.”
  • Not Embracing Technology. Make sure you’re current in the software programs employers are requiring in want ads and job descriptions.
  • Lack of Enthusiasm. You must convey your enthusiasm and eagerness to land the job through your mannerisms and words. Express your anticipation.

Who’s Hiring?

Job seekers over 50 may be surprised at the number of their seldom-considered employment options. They include:

  • Adjunct or Full-Time Teacher/Tutor. Teaching is a wonderful opportunity, for you as an older worker, to convey your expertise to younger generations.
  • Entrepreneurship. Launch a business of your own, utilizing your niche skills and expertise.
  • Government. Think out of the box with regards to government jobs. Consider Homeland Security, the IRS and U.S. and state transportation departments, parks and recreation, etc.

Instead of applying for traditional jobs, use your imagination and creative skills to land an exciting, enjoyable job in a fun environment, or create your own. “Sometimes a complete change of venue affords the most rewarding opportunities,” says Silvis.

Creating a Success Plan

Statistically, mature workers endure a longer job search. Persevere. Be willing to put everything you have into your employment search, until successful. Set goals, write them down; and take consistent action to achieve those goals. Break major goals into secondary goals that serve as benchmarks toward your progress. Tie each secondary goal to action steps. Realize that setbacks are inevitable, but persist.

Expect to find the right position for you. Reinvent yourself, if necessary; and adapt to available jobs. Challenge yourself. Step out of your comfort zone; and try new things. Visualize success. Be constantly aware of what you’re aiming to accomplish, and what it will like when realized it’s realized.

No one will ever care more about your career and job search than you. Throughout Job Hunting Over 50, “Take Charge” summary boxes serve as signs of your career success accountability.

Finding employment in mid-life does have its own challenges; and Silvis shows us it’s possible. Preparation, persistence and positivity are key. Many libraries and programs funded at the federal, state and local level, provide workshops on topics including Behavior-based interviewing and resumes. Make sure you’re utilizing your community resources to gain a competitive advantage; and realize your employment goals.

Money Secrets Of The Amish by Lorilee Craker – Personal Finance Book Review – Bartering and Gifting

Challenging economic times inspire people universally to make wise financial decisions. Whether it’s choosing to repair a vehicle instead of purchasing a new one, or investing in simple pleasures vs. opulent outings, such behaviors are proliferating. One culture that has always lived austere, yet meaningful lives is the Amish. Increasingly, people are intrigued by their lifestyle; and wonder what aspects of their living they could comfortably imitate.

Lorilee Craker is the author of the new book, “Money Secrets Of The Amish-Finding True Abundance in Simplicity, Sharing and Saving.” She examines their lifestyle, which is extravagant in peace, family and community closeness. For them, thrift is a muscle that is exercised regularly.

Craker interviewed Amish folk in Michigan and Pennsylvania, including an Amish banker whose clientele is 95 percent Amish. During the Great Recession in 2008, his bank had its best year ever. Amish experts and Englishers’ (Amish reference to anyone non-Amish), financial perspectives accentuate the book too. Here, two of their money-saving habits, bartering and rethinking gifts, are discussed.

Bartering. Bartering was a popular social behavior from the 1880s to the Great Depression. It’s common again today. The Amish, who have a long history of living outside a cash economy, love to swap goods for goods, goods for services or services for services. In regards to bartering, ask yourself, “What are you good at and what could you negotiate for something of worth?”

Unfortunately, Americans can be too proud to barter, but it’s popular in foreign countries. Barter, and you will:

  • Build relationships and community.
  • Engage on a deeper level when you must express your needs.
  • Think of your assets first before your needs.

If you’re uncomfortable bartering, start with your friends and acquaintances; and seek bartering opportunities. Post what you need on social media sites.

Rethink Gift Giving. The Amish give one gift per child for birthdays and Christmas. Gifts are often useful, need-based and hand-made, regardless of the recipient’s age. The first step in rethinking gift giving is to scale back. Consider giving gifts that are either: a. experiential or charitable, or b. homegrown in some way.

Experiential gifts. Give the gift of a single experience, shared or not, of know-how, skill, and most importantly, memorable. Examples include sporting events tickets, museum memberships, or Horseback riding lessons. Experiential gifts can be expensive or cheap, as it’s more about investing in the relationship.

  • Un-wrappable gifts. They can be fun, frugal, yet meaningful. Give coupons for services including babysitting, housecleaning or yard work.
  • Coupon-gifting. Consider giving the gift of time, allowing you to create memories, which are priceless. Coupon gifts are also something to anticipate using.
  • Make a donation in the recipient’s name to an endeared charitable cause.

Homegrown. Examples include painted pottery, made candles, garden stones, and soap.

  • Cook, Can, Bake. “Somehow there’s something about a kitchen gift that’s infused with so much more than the cost of ingredients,” says Craker.

Secondhand. Aim for 20 percent of your gifts to come from resale, consignment or thrift shops, suggests Craker:

  • Resale shops. Can include costume jewelry for kids.
  • Consignment stores. Look for name-brand clothing, baby shower and newborn gifts.

Shop Your Own Home For Gifts. One person’s junk is another man’s pleasure:

  • Re-gifting. This practice gets a bad rap, but if you have something in good condition that someone else would appreciate far more than you do, why not give it to them?
  • Practice re-gifting beyond Christmastime. Sometimes gifts carry extra meaning for both the giver and receiver. Parents can give away special home items to their grown-up children. Such objects are treasured, emotional connection points to their upbringing.

Money Secrets Of The Amish illustrates that bartering and gift giving can be both hip and practical. And, you needn’t don a bonnet or suspenders to prosper.