Book Reviews Are Hard: A Discussion

You guys may have noticed that I don’t post actual book reviews very often. In fact, out of all of the posts that I have put onto this blog since I started it back in May, only 5 have been book reviews, and the last one I did was well over a month ago at this point.

The truth is that I don’t post book reviews very often because, personally, I don’t really like them. Today, I’m going to talk a little bit about why.

1. They get very little engagement.

I started this blog because I love books and I don’t have very many people in my real life who like to read, or at least who like to read the same kinds of things I do. I wanted to be able to connect and make friends with other readers and basically just gush about our mutual love for books.

Book reviews don’t really allow me to do that in the same way. Unless people have read the book I’m reviewing or are actively interested in reading said book, they don’t really care about the review, which is understandable (I do the same thing, after all), but also a little disheartening.

2. They aren’t fun to write (for me).

This is probably my main problem with book reviews. In order to write a truly good, useful review, I feel like I need to either write it immediately after I finish the book (which isn’t always possible) or take notes while I’m reading the book (which tends to take me out of the story). Either way, it’s a stressful endeavor, because I want to write useful reviews, but I also don’t want my ratings to be skewed by the elation of having just finished a book or the frustration of having to pull myself out of the story to take notes.

When I do write reviews, I try to keep them as spoiler-free as possible because I want people who haven’t read the book to be able to read my review without fear of being spoiled. That, too, sort of lessens my enjoyment, though, because part of the reason I started this blog was so that I could discuss the spoilery things with people who have read the books. Gushing and/or lamenting with other people about the things that happen in books is one of my favorite things, when I get the chance to do it.

3. I feel like I can express my love (or dislike) for a book in other types of posts.

I’m a creative person by nature. My dream job, as I’m sure a lot of yours is, is to be a professional author. That is not to say, of course, that a book review cannot be creative—of course it can be. Book reviews don’t have to be dry or feel like a school assignment, but to me, writing a book review is like writing a book report for school. It’s boring. Maybe that’s just because I haven’t found the right format yet (I’m still getting the hang of all of this), but I want to add something a little extra to it, other than just star rating, plot summary, general reactions. I want to find a way to be a little more creative.

That’s why I like things like recommendations posts, or tags, or lists—I feel like I can be a little more creative with them by coming up with unusual topics or inserting some of my weird humor.

4. They are very constraining.

The purpose of a book review is, of course, to give your opinion on a book, and to give it a rating that will help other people judge its merits. The problem with that system, though, is that it doesn’t allow for changing opinions. Maybe this isn’t a problem for most people, but my opinions on most of the things I like change frequently. I may be obsessed with a certain thing for a while, but then that obsession fades, or I reread it, and my rating goes from 5 stars to closer to 4, or even 3. Or it might be the other way around, where I reread a book I didn’t like that much the first time I read it, and the rating goes up.

So, when that happens, do I rewrite the review to match my new opinion, or do I leave it as it is, even though that review doesn’t reflect the way I feel anymore? I don’t know, so I tend not to risk it by not writing the review in the first place.

5. I don’t feel like I have enough to say.

Over the past few months of being a book blogger, I have gotten a lot better at expressing my thoughts on books in ways that are understandable to the general populace (I hope). However, with most of the books I read, even books I really love, I just don’t have enough non-spoilery (and coherent) thoughts about them, either positive or negative, to write a reasonably-sized review. That’s why my reviews tend to be shorter than most of my other posts.

This post ended up sounding a lot whinier than I was anticipating, but I hope it gave you some insight into the way I approach this thing we call book blogging, and book reviewing especially. Let me know down in the comments: what are your thoughts on book reviews? Do you like reading/writing reviews? Do you not? Let’s start a discussion!

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you next time!


P.S. Sorry about not posting on Tuesday. I completely forgot about it.


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