Thoughts on Writing Book Reviews

So I like to post on my blog around three times a week – I don’t really have a set routine on the things that I post on here, but I always make sure to post a book review up every weekend. Because it makes perfect sense for me to post book reviews on my book blog… However, since I’m in such a slump lately, I failed to post a review last week and may not even get one out this week, either. So since there’s no review going up this week, I thought I would write a small discussion post on the topic of writing book reviews.

(Emphasis on ‘mini’ because I’m still struggling with writing right now, but anyways…)

Lately I’ve been slacking with reading, blogging, responding to comments, and posting comments. I’ve slowly been getting back into it the past week but I’m still having a hard time with reviews. Two books I’ve read this past month, I decided to not write reviews on. If I were to write reviews on these books, they would be pretty positive ones since I enjoyed both of these novels. But I just don’t have the energy to write them, and I feel incredibly bad for it – especially since one of the book’s afterthoughts/acknowledgements/whatever, asked readers to please leave reviews online. I still feel so bad for not writing one, but I probably wouldn’t do the book justice in my current state anyways.

So I tweeted about this, and I said that sometimes, I don’t really enjoy writing book reviews. And I was surprised by the response. Because everyone that responded agreed with me! They said that sometimes they struggled to write reviews, or that their reviews felt repetitive (I completely relate to that one!). One follower said that reviewing books can sometimes take the fun out of reading for them, because they’re thinking about the task of writing the review as they’re reading.

This is one of the reasons I like to request ARCs from NetGalley one at a time. Because in my experience, writing book reviews regularly can get overwhelming, and the requirement that comes with ARCs to post reviews really gets me stressed sometimes! And in those moments, writing reviews is really not fun for me. Blogging for me is a hobby, and there’s no point in me doing this if I’m not having fun with it. (I currently have like 5 ARCs to read & review, too. I don’t know how it got so out of hand!)

That’s not to say reviewing novels is a huge chore, because of course it’s not, I wouldn’t be doing it otherwise. But sometimes I really struggle with them. If it’s a highly positive review or a negative one, writing reviews comes easily to me since I have lots to say! Three star reviews are the most difficult for me to write (funnily enough, they seem to be the most popular rating on my blog), because they feel really repetitive, and I think to myself “Am I saying anything unique here? Why would anyone even read this when there are far more entertaining and informative reviews elsewhere?” and those thoughts make me feel like I’m not doing my ‘job’ as a blogger up to a good standard. I depend on reviews a lot when it comes to deciding whether to add a book to my TBR or not, and because of that, I too want to help people with the same decisions by writing reviews of my own.

Sometimes I wonder whether my technique is part of the problem. I have a set layout of details/intro/characters/chemistry/plot/conclusion, then at the end I add who I would recommend the book to, and whether I would re-read the novel. And these reviews are around 700-1000 words long. Maybe I need to change it up a bit? Shorten it, add more images or colour? Even this post is a bit boring-looking. Maybe my issues with writing reviews lies with my technique and organisation (or lack thereof!).

This post is quite messy, and I feel like I had a lot more to say on the topic, but I wanted to ask you, do you enjoy writing book reviews? How often do you write/post them? Do you feel obligated to write them because you have a book blog? I’d love to know your thoughts!

jess

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44 thoughts on “Thoughts on Writing Book Reviews

  1. Thanks. I agree 100% with that you are saying about 3 star books. it’s really hard to describe how something is so just kind of average or okay, or in the middle. If something is good, there is a reason it’s good. If something is bad you can speak to that but sometimes it’s just something miss or something undeveloped that leaves a reader feeling blah and that’s a hard feeling to convey.

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  2. I find that writing book reviews helps me better remember the books I read. I don’t usually really enjoy it but I do find it worthwhile. The only ones I really enjoy are reviews of horrible books because I get to be mean and apparently I am very mean inside? I did not know this about myself until just this second. Whoops!

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  3. I personally enjoy writing book reviews. I don’t have many people to talk about books with in my real life. I got to a point in my life where I was craving talking about one of my favorite things but there just wasn’t anyone around to do that with. Since taking up book reviewing, I’ve found that I’m reading more and doing so with more regularity. It also forces me to reflect on lines that I really enjoy and think of why it was poignant to me.

    My main hardship is feeling like I am letting down my followers by not reviewing quickly enough. I have a busy life with family, friends and work so I often struggle to fit in my reading time. Sometimes there can be a week or two in between a review and I feel guilty about this.

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  4. I don’t write a review unless I have something to say about the book or film in question. By which I mean, whether it made exposed me to a new idea or made me think about a provocative question. I never write about what it’s “about” either. I think your’re right that that sort of thing is widely available. In fact, for a film, I link to Rotten Tomatoes so the reader can go there for a synopsis if they need that. And I always try to step back and take a broad view of the work. I imagine it as a painting. Even though it might be 500 pages, I try to ask myself “what was my overall impression here?” “what emotions did this evoke in me?” or “what did I get out of this that wasn’t directly related to plot?”

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  5. I enjoying reviewing…well, things in general and I write them whenever I feel to get around them. I don’t feel obligated because I want to do them. Sometimes you do need to mix your schedule up to make life meaningful. Sometimes, it’ll be months before I post another thing, but think about it. Most authors take a year before making another book. Sometimes, it’s best to get out, try something different, and come back. Try writing a draft over the week and saving it until it’s ready to be published. Might save time so you could do other things.

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  6. I enjoy writing book reviews for books that I enjoy. It’s a lot harder for me to write a book review if I don’t enjoy the book, but that’s something that I get to share with fellow readers and bloggers. I’m new to blogging and book reviewing, and am very impressed by your blog. I was wondering if you had any tips for newbie bloggers and book reviewers.

    If you have the time, please check out my blog @breenysbooks. I’d love any feedback. Have a wonderful day.

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    • It’s odd because I find reviews for books I didn’t much enjoy to be a lot easier to write (the guilt is definitely there however, I actually feel quite bad writing negative reviews, even if I find it easier to put my thoughts down in writing). Thank you!! I’ll do that now!

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  7. I like writing reviews on books I really love but that’s about it unless a book really infuriates me then I like to express that too but not many books do that for me so I do find myself having no energy to write up reviews. I have been posting a lot lately because I have NetGalle copies but I find I have to write it up as soon as I’ve finished the book otherwise I put off doing it for ages. I think if I had a YouTube channel and could just babble on about a book that way I would quite happily do it but trying to put the words on a page is so draining. I defiantly agree with you on what you’re saying! Great post Jess 🙂 – Sarah xoxo

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  8. You definitely DON’T need to be writing a review of each book you read. That’s the fastest way of getting bogged down. Because what if you don’t feel up to writing a review yet, and then you’re almost through the next book and you still haven’t written that review, so in your mind, you can’t review the other one yet either, and you need to that because then you feel guilty about starting yet ANOTHER book and… It just gets crazy.

    If you become more selective with reviews, you will enjoy it more, and feel SO liberated. I did a post on this a long time ago, and the common conscensus was that it could be really stressful, at least if not disciplined in that way (most of us aren’t XD), and don’t mix up things from time to time to keep it interesting for ourselves (Again, we’re not that creative, that often.)

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  9. I’m not sure if I’m in the minority, but I actually do like writing reviews for my books. Although I do think they get repetitive sometimes, I think it really makes my reading experience more enjoyable. I’m thinking about the book more critically, and after reading other reviews, picking up on some aspects of books that I don’t notice and starting to notice them. I actually have trouble thinking of other things to post on my blog, although I know I have to because people get tired of just reading book reviews.

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  10. Agreed. Sometimes I simply don’t feel like reviewing some of the books I’ve read…so I just don’t. :p If I don’t feel strongly like there’s something I want to say about the book, I think it can be worth passing. That doesn’t even mean I was neutral on the book. Sometimes I quite like books, but I can’t think of anything to say that’s specific to the book and it would all be generic “strong worldbuilding, developed characters, nice prose, etc.”

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  11. It really depends on the book for me. Ultimately, I like writing reviews. It’s satisfying to be able to verbalize my opinions. But does that mean that starting a review is always easy? No. That’s the part that I struggle with a lot of the time for books that I have in between ratings for.

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  12. The 3 star reviews are the hardest for me, too! I feel like I’m just blathering on, and not really convincing anyone about the book one way or another, and it can feel pointless.

    In general, though, I like writing reviews. I keep mine very conversational, which helps I think. I don’t feel any pressure to talk about a specific topic, I can talk about just what I want to talk about. And it makes it feel more personal and less like a chore, I guess. I did have to write a few book reviews for school where we had a format and a checklist that we had to follow, and I hated it, which is why I try to be more conversational in mine.

    But even with that, it can still kind of feel like a chore. I like this comment is all over the place, but that pretty well sums up my feelings about writing reviews, so I think it fits

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  13. I always review what I read on Goodreads and Barnes and Noble. I only post reviews in my monthly wrap-ups, it’s how I like to do things. When I write my reviews I always start with what I didn’t like and anything that could potentially be problematic/harmful, I always end my reviews with what I liked/loved. My reviews also always vary in length. The only book this year that I have not posted a review for on Goodreads is American Street, however I still wrote a review for myself.

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  14. This is a great discussion, Jess! I think I have a love/hate relationship with writing reviews. Sometimes I enjoy it and then there are times when I completely hate reviewing and don’t want to do it. I feel like it depends on the book for me because there are those books where I have so many thoughts and want to discuss them with everyone and then the ones that I enjoy but don’t have enough thoughts to write a review for. Which is why I don’t force myself when it comes to reviews like I did when I first started blogging. If I’m not feeling it then I don’t write a review. But then again that doesn’t work when it comes to ARCs since I HAVE to review an ARC, those can definetly be a struggle sometimes. I see it as yeah we’re book bloggers and we review but we don’t have to review every book or post so many reviews a week, that’s my motto for myself lol. 😊

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  15. This is a really interesting discussion! I’m really new to reviewing (I only started reviewing on GR this past August and on my blog in October) and I find that very rarely I get a feeling of “I CAN’T WAIT TO REVIEW THIS”. When I do, it’s the best thing in the world, but it usually only means that the book I read either 1) completely blew my mind and I want everyone to read it, or 2) it sucked so much I can’t wait to tell people NOT to read it. Everything in between is really, really hard to review, even though I never follow a set format like you do.
    Another “problem” I have is that I review primarily on GR, and I only report certain reviews on my blog. I don’t always feel like my reviews there are proper for a book blog and that means that I don’t really post many reviews, sometimes I only do T5Ws or something like that. I guess I’ve been lazy too but this is as much as I feel like doing, and that’s what it comes down to, I think. Just do what and how much feels right for you 🙂

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    • I feel the same! The only time I get excited to write reviews is when my feelings on it are really strong (i loved it or it sucked). And I like that you still post GR reviews even if you don’t publish them here, I always feel like it’s all or nothing in terms of reviewing – either it gets published on all platforms or I won’t write one at all… I don’t really know why or when I developed this mentality but I guess that’s partly why I’m so drained from reviews…

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      • I think for me it’s like, I can be (almost) completely myself on GR (if I want to use swearwords and whatnot) and I developed a nice following there so I know that i will always get a feedback (maybe it’s petty but I find that I need that to keep creating content).
        There’s also another aspect on GR that I love, and that is that I feel like I can be “part of it” whenever a new book is published by someone who isn’t very famous yet. That happened with Peter Darling by Austin Chant, where I was one of the first few reviewers and I know for a fact that my review got a lot of people to be interested in it (I published the review on the blog too, but people will generally check out GR first, and there I can reach a bigger audience). Again, it might be petty, but it’s the only area in my life where I feel like I can make a small difference and it’s a good feeling.
        I’m sorry I’m just talking about myself here but hopefully seeing another perspective on it will help you understand why you’re feeling like this!

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  16. I love writing book reviews! But I try to make it fun and talk like I’m talking to someone. I don’t have a real form: I just have titles like Is It Classroom-Appropriate and Age Range. That’s it. But I’m no expert. It’s just pretty much all I write on my blog.
    I hope you can enjoy it more. Or make them something you do in stages? Maybe even focus on other areas like memes and discussions like this one? 😊 I hope it helps!!

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  17. Oh, yes, I loved this post! I HATE writing reviews – but I still do it. 😂 I mean, I don’t think I’ll ever STOP writing reviews altogether, but I don’t do them too much? My schedule is two reviews and two bookish posts, which can be anything from a list, to a discussion, to Let’s Chat, to a recommendation post, etc. I much prefer doing those types of things over reviews. And then there’s the fact that it can just get extremely discouraging to write a review and the stats are pretty low. It’s common for every book blogger, but it’s still so disappointing, especially when you don’t like reviewing in the first place.

    But, I’ll probably still do it! I mean, when I love a book, I love talking about it! This post actually made me think that I might do something review-like, but it’s not a review??? Like a Let’s Chat for books? I might try that now. 😄 Thanks for the unintentional inspiration!

    BUT BACK ON THE POINT because I feel like I’m rambling. I think reviews across the book blog sphere are sort of seen as a “necessity.” We all write them, even though we all know they bring in low stats or if we don’t like writing them. Even when looking through my Reader, I tend to just like reviews, but actually read and comment on discussions and lists and memes and anticipated releases, etc.

    I apologize for the long comment. 😂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ahh I should have mentioned that! I mean I understand why reviews get less comments and views, but it does suck when you spend ages on a review and it gets very little interest. But then I’m just as guilty! I’ll leave a like on other blogger’s reviews, but if it’s a book I haven’t read yet and have no interest in, I most likely won’t click on that post, and I’m sure that’s what happens to my reviews, too 😛

      I appreciate the long comment! I’m curious what your post will be about 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  18. I write less book reviews than I used to, because lately I’ve wanted to (try) and be more detailed about the books I read — more substance to them. I do obligated (again not as much as I used to) to post because I have a blog, but then I tell myself that I need to go at my own pace, especially since I have other things I should be doing. So it is more of a rarity nowadays, lucky to have one review a month, but it takes off the slightest bit of pressure to put stuff out there that I may not think is up to suitable standard.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes! I’m feeling that more and more the longer I’ve been on this site – to go at your own pace and focus on the quality of my writing, even if that means I miss a few days here and there. I’ve been using my time lately to focus on other things too. I must admit I’ve been pretty fixated on blogging and social media the past couple months – easy to do when you don’t have a job like me, though 😛

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  19. This is definitely an interesting topic for a discussion and I’m really glad that you are thinking about why you aren’t enjoying writing reviews anymore and that you’re also not forcing yourself to write them when you’re in a slump already! I’m sure that would put more of a negative feeling on reviews for future reviews!

    So far, I’ve enjoyed writing reviews but I’ve also not been at it for too long, so who knows what things will be like a couple of weeks/months down the road! But I also find that if I don’t think I am in a position to write a proper review with a structure it’s fun to just write up a few thoughts and change things up that way. I did it for The Hate U Give as I didn’t feel like I was anywhere near educated enough on quite a lot of things and didn’t want to write a review that may include things that would be offending to other people, etc so I just shared some thoughts.

    Maybe that’s something you need? To change things up from time to time and make sure that reviewing continues to be something that you actually enjoy doing and don’t feel obligated to do!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m definitely feeling the pressure to post reviews because it’s been almost two weeks since my last one, but I don’t want to half-arse any reviews so I’m taking a needed break from reviews to focus on other things going on in my life.
      And I understand, I think that’s a great idea! Maybe it would be fun to mix my reviews up a bit and try new things but I just need to work out what I could change… 😛

      Liked by 2 people

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