On Writing Book Reviews. Some Thoughts and Conflicts.

I’ve been thinking about this post for awhile. I started reviewing on NetGalley just over a year ago (submitted my first review on Jan 14th of last year). My reasons for reviewing and blogging have changed over the months, and I’d like to write about that evolution. I’ve made a list in order of importance, followed by an explanation.

  1. I love reading: The anticipation and enjoyment of the first 10 pages of a book never gets old. I may have read the blurb or gotten a recommendation from a friend, but sitting down with a book is always an amazing experience. I recently wrote in one of my posts that I can close my eyes and see a scene from every one of the books I’ve read this past year. That is powerful stuff.
  2. Spreading the love of reading through the book community: Kind of the old adage that goes something like, If I can get one person to… I try to make reviews mostly positive. I do point out criticisms in books, but most of all I want promote reading and share my love. I can do this through my WordPress and Twitter connections. I love seeing other people’s takes on books. To see them cut through the hype or promote a little-know book/ author. I also like to be a part of the grassroots effort to promote a particular book for an author. It’s a fun part of the community experience.
  3. A routine: I’ve said before that I do most of my reading at night after the kids go to sleep, and most of that time is spent on my stationary bike in my garage. The routine of request, read, review keeps me pedaling.
  4. Writing: Yes. This is the last on the list… I have a confession. I don’t really like writing. I’ve taken some time and looked back on some of my first reviews. They are all very simply organized: Overview of Plot (Introduction),  Key literary elements of character, themes, pacing, etc (Body), Reasons for Overall Star Count (Conclusion). I got away from this after a couple months and started to write more developed reviews by commenting on all aspects of the book, but quite frankly, it was taking too long to write: precious reading time! Especially since I like to write my reviews before moving on to the next book. Yes, I do read graphic novels while I read other texts, solely because I can read them in one sitting which doesn’t mix the plots in my head with the plot of the novel I’m usually making my way through. After a great deal of thought, I’ve gone back to a more simply organized review. I do try to spend a little more time on the reviews on the ARCs I receive, but I will probably just continue with my current style. I just like to read too much! I also think there’s an audience for all kinds of reviews. I read a lot of reviews from my fellow bloggers, both long and short, detailed and some with more broad strokes. But I do feel conflicted because at times I’m afraid I don’t give the books justice and I acknowledge that I am giving up some quality for quantity.

That is all for now. I have some reading to do, ha!  Do you find yourself conflicted: reading vs writing? What are your thoughts?

22 thoughts on “On Writing Book Reviews. Some Thoughts and Conflicts.

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    1. Thank you so much for stopping by! Great thoughts
      I have so many things going through my while reading, and I know what I would like to say, but it takes me quite awhile to put those thoughts on paper… my best bet is to just keep it simple. I think it will definitely become easier over time.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I know the feeling 😊 the one aspect of reviewing I do struggle with is that, compared to others, my reviews are rather short. I just get what I want to say said in 4 paragraphs or so and always feel like I have said too little.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. My piece of advice? Write for yourself and let everyone else worry about themselves. If your reviews are what you want to read in 10 years to refresh your memory, then you’re all set. Once you go down the path of trying to please others, well, much like the darkside of the Force, you’ll probably end up being a burnt out husk looking like Emperor Palpatine 😉

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you very much! Great words of advice.
      It took me awhile to find my rhythm, but I think I’m happy now with my own little blurb, some specific thoughts, and an overall note. That’s what I’m happy with and people know what they will get from me.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yea, I feel conflicted sometimes but it’s between reading and writing my own stories. I always lean toward reading. I love reading and it’s the easiest thing to do.
    Regarding your review format, people are interested in all types. Def do what works for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I second Bookstooge. You should totally write reviews for yourself first. What you get from reviewing should all be considering a bonus (i.e. getting comments of people who liked/hated the book or of people who want to read what you reading). I know that reviewing takes time and that time could be used to reading instead, but personally, I like writing and it’s probably why I’m less conflicted about this issue. But I do know that I’d love to be able to write faster, more eloquently, more structure, more everything, in less time, just to get more time for everything else. One can dream! 😀 Great post, sir!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’d definitely rather be reading then writing at all times! That’s why I have a huge backlog of reviews I need to get to!
    Quite honestly I don’t believe I’ve ever read a review I thought was too short, but I can tell you I have read some that I thought were too long! You are all good!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I quite enjoy writing reviews, but admittedly i don’t really have a structure. Some reviews turn into ramblings about personal experiences and just general musings about how a certain book made me feel.
    I usually mention what i liked / disliked, but don’t do in depth analysis, cuz that’s just not fun for me. Neither writing such reviews, nor reading them.

    And yes, writing so much would just take away from reading time 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great post, Paul! The hardest reviews for me to write are for books that didn’t make me feel strongly one way or another. What do I say about them other than ‘hmm, this was good but not amazing’ lol. I also feel like my review writing is totally random. I talk about different things for different books according to what stood out for me so I may mention themes for some but not others, etc. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Writing reviews feels to me like an integral part of the reading process – or at least this has become true as I enjoyed more and more the pleasure of sharing those reading experiences with like-minded people. It does not matter if the review is long or short, or if it touches on some topics and not on others: as long as our love for a particular story comes through and can inspire someone else to read that book, we can be happy with the result. 🙂


  8. Great discussion to have! Personally I love taking things apart and seeing how they work- whether I love them or not. I don’t really have a conflict between reading/writing (although in terms of writing, it’s not always my favourite kind to do)- but I can see why there would be. For me, the issue I sometimes have is that the routine gets tiring and sometimes I just want to read for fun (which is why I read other genres/sometimes don’t review or do mini reviews instead). Anyway, that’s just my two cents- it was interesting to see your thoughts on this!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very cool insight! Thank you!

      I feel the same in regards to two things: switching genres and types of reviews. There’s no way I could write endlessly about magic systems, so switching genres is key for me too. Also, I find myself writing a little differently when it comes to ARCs vs personal reads. And my tone changes depending on the themes in the book, so that helps break up the repetition also.


  9. What a fun discussion, Paul! I actually love writing reviews, it helps me to process my thoughts and helps tap into the intense need to be in school (I miss it so much but grad school isn’t in the plan). Write so long as you enjoy it and write however you like in whatever format works for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your generous thoughts! I really like the way you describe your love of writing.

      Two things: It helps for me to switch up genres. And, I had a string of ‘just ok’ books to start the year. Things are picking up though!


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