Book Discussion: Reviewing Books
We’re all in good company and this is a judgment free zone here. We start by merely looking at our bookshelves to know that we do have an inability to rarely, if ever, pass up a pretty book. Some of us even like to purchase multiple copies of something if it’s released with a shiny new cover or a foreign version. Recently the lovely Amber Stokes wrote a post about her book buying tendency that funnily enough coincided with my own thoughts just prior to that in relation to review books. I’ve more recently been thinking about being a book blogger and all that entails.
When I think of my to-be-read pile, mentally I am separating out the books I have bought vs. those I was sent for review, because a.) it’s easier that way and b.) the publisher sent copies are what I *have* to read over those I own – in my mind, there’s a kind of obligation to read those. Much as I’ve loved having opportunity to be a part of this community, I’ve recently realized that I have to find a better way of scheduling what books I review – or more accurately, I need to be sure that I don’t wind up with a gazillion books at the same time because I need to give myself room to “breathe” and be able to also weed through the books I have on my bookshelves.
So, here are some of the things I’ve learned since beginning the book blogging journey and some of the things I need to learn still.
Know what you like. I’ve talked about this before, but I believe it’s important. There was a time when it didn’t matter what a popular author wrote, I “had” to have their new book. Now, I have easily learned to let that mentality go – though can admit to still purchasing on cover alone. For the most part, that no longer applies to my reading habits – I’ve taught myself which genres or authors most suit me and while I am always willing to try new authors, most of all, I still use those parameters and ask the right questions. Is it a genre I like? What have fellow book reviewers said? Does its summary appeal?
Negative Reviews. I’ve had my share of trouble in this regard. What some readers may not realize is (and I think I speak for all reviewers when I say this): I never relish writing a review that is less-than positive, yet it’s outweighed by my belief that all opinions should be sincerely and honestly given. I’ve also been called out by a reader as regards one of my 3-star reviews, who questioned why I gave the product three stars when my review didn’t reflect that rating. What are your thoughts on reviews that share the bad? I have a problem not reviewing a book – even if the conclusion is so-so, when I’ve been sent it by a publicist or author because that was the expectation – that an honest review be given in exchange, plus with exception to the rare book, there is always something good to be said about a book and I don’t remember rating much of anything below a 3-star.
Ratings. This brings us to the next point. Speaking of ratings, recently I’ve come across lots of Booktube chatter about the Twitter hashtag movement, BeCritical and some of the conversation has to do with ratings. I love how booktuber Karina E. puts ratings into perspective: if you go by Goodreads (which seems pretty universal), a 3-star rating does mean that the reader “liked” the book making me want to reevaluate the books I’ve rated – a three rating isn’t necessarily “bad” in the world of GR, which for me, really put things into perceptive.
I’m curious, what are your thoughts on these two subjects?
Scheduling. This is something I mistake all too often; I’ll get tour invites, check the dates, and think, “that’s a long way off” while assuming I’ll be all “caught up” by then. Wrong. Usually I do this with more than one novel which means I receive a whole cache of books in a very short timeframe. Even at that, what I try to do is read the books in order of their release dates and/or tour dates, something that sometimes forces me to put aside a current read in favor of reading something that has a tour date looming ahead of me.
If I get a novel that won’t come out until say 3-5 months from the date we’re on, this is why usually no matter how much I wish to read it, I hold off.
Writing the Review. Occasionally I will make notes when reading a book, but rarely go that route. Instead while I’m reading, usually I begin typing my review even if it’s only disorganized thoughts because sometimes… the thoughts… the feels… the emotions, it’s all too “present” to let set without getting it down on paper. I make a habit of writing every night (or 3-5 times a week at the least), which makes it easy to type out early thoughts of a book, then walk away until I finish the book and return to polish it.
It’s your turn!
What have you learned through your experiences; what advice do you have to offer? Have you been given advice that helped? Share any bookish or not bookish thoughts you have – it’s welcome!