Writing a Library Review

You are invited to write and submit original reviews of books, videos, and audios (music/talk) that are part of the CSS Library collection.

Before you begin to write, keep in mind:

  • Length of review…50-200 words. It may be edited with your permission for length or clarity.
  • Include title, author, publisher/city, year of publication, page count or time duration, and library subject (e.g., art, biography, Buddhist text, etc.).
  • Basic information to consider for the body of the review:
    • Genre (e.g., Sufi poetry, fiction)
    • Length
    • Writing style (e.g., easy, scholarly)
    • Faith tradition (e.g., Buddhism, Taoist, Christian)
    • Time setting (e.g., modern, medieval)
    • General theme (e.g., biography of a woman mystic, quantum physics perspective)
  • By submitting your review, you are giving CSS permission to publish it on the library’s blog, Center website, and/or in Center Community News, the CSS newsletter. Submission of a review, however, does not guarantee that it will be published.
  • Negative or critical feedback on the library collection is always welcome. However, negative or critical reviews will not be published.


Getting Started
Just getting started can be the hardest part! Faced with a blank page, the judgments can pile in fast. You might think you have nothing to say and get angry at yourself, feel stuck, and just stop trying. In this pause, remember you can look at your thoughts and judgments directly without their stories and listen. If you think about it, what a great spiritual practice writing reviews can be!


Suggestions for Beginning
Consider these basic questions to help you write your review, whether for a book, DVD, audio talk, or music. They are: What was it about? Why did you like it? Did it influence your spiritual practice? How? Is there anything in particular that inspired, provoked, or startled you? Is the author important to highlight? Were there moments of wonder or surprise? Do you recommend it? Can you suggest related books, DVD’s, etc. that readers may enjoy? Having considered the above questions, there are many ways to express your thoughts…

  • You can play with words, phrases, or sentences, such as . . . an easy read, engaging, written for beginning meditators, challenged my ideas about Reality, a scholarly Buddhist text.
  • It can begin with a question, such as… Do you want a book that will touch your heart and mind? Have you read Rumi, a Sufi poet? What is a mystic?
  • Central to your review can be a quote you find within the item. For example: “The problem is that ego can convert anything to its own use, even spirituality.” (Chogyam Trungpa).


Another Approach to Beginning: Ask for Help
First, choose a library item to review. Then find someone who you are comfortable with to talk together about it . . . what it is about, why you liked it, etc. . . . an easy conversation. While talking, each of you can jot down significant words or phrases you say to refer to later while writing your review. Start writing the review shortly after the conversation, keeping the gist of what you talked about, and using words and phrases that first come to you. No second guessing to “sound good”. Refine it later. You might be surprised at your eloquence. Submit your draft review, and a library staff member will be happy to offer helpful ideas.


Submitting Your Review
Before submitting your review, spell check it, and make sure that it is between 50 and 200 words in length. Make sure you have the publication details handy. Then fill out the online review submission form. Thank you!