Discussion Post: Are Book Reviews Impactful? + Tips For Writing Better Reviews!

So. The first thing we’re doing after my brief hiatus is a discussion post! Exciting right? (technically the last thing before my hiatus was also a discussion but we are overlooking that). Let’s get started right away!

Most of us book bloggers are reviewers at heart. But review posts are also the posts which require a lot of work from our side, because not only do we have to sit and write an entire post, we have to read a book and form opinions before that! This sometimes causes us to wonder, “are our reviews actually making an impact? like does anyone even care what we thought about a book?”

I personally think that yes, book reviews are really helpful, not just to people who have not read the book, but also to those who have. Presenting… *drumroll* a list (yay lists!!) of reasons why reviews can be helpful.

Ways In Which Book Reviews Help Different People
  • For those who haven’t read that particular book: Reviews can be the extra weight required for tipping the scales in the book’s favour (or against it) for someone who is trying to decide whether or not to read the book. In my case, I often find that a book has certain tropes (like found family!), or maybe a very unique protagonist, or a twist-y plot etc etc through reviews, and that makes makes me add it to my tbr!
  • For those who have read the book: I don’t know about you, but many a times after finishing a book, I can’t really understand how exactly I feel about it or how to describe it to someone else. So I read reviews of the book and check whether or not I agree with the reviewer in certain aspects. They say – 2d characters? Ah yes I thought so too. They say – amazing worldbuilding? Hmm I don’t think so, it was lacking in several aspects.
    Basically what I want to say is that reviews can be a way to assess how we ourselves felt about a book.
  • For publishers and authors: This one is pretty obvious. Reviews create buzz in the bookish community, and it is through reviews that people come to know about a book and can read it themselves and appreciate the author’s work.

So we’ve established that book reviews certainly are important. Now, what are some things to keep in mind while writing reviews? How can we write better reviews that make even more impact? Here’s a list of things that has helped me write better reviews over time (i’m still learning though)

note: some of the below tips can apply to all sorts of reviewing platforms like goodreads, but I’ve made this list keeping in mind blog posts, so most tips might be specific only to review posts on your blogs. also, all these are purely my opinion, and I do not wish to offend anyone, because after all, each one’s writing style is different!

Tips On Improving Your Book Reviews
  • Share your thoughts on the book, not a summary. Back when I started blogging, my “reviews” were basically a summary of the plot of the book. I realized with time that the audience does not want to know a summary, they get that from the synopsis, rather they want to know how I as the reader felt about the book.
  • Form an opinion first. After finishing the book, gauge your overall feelings about it. It would not do to write a review not knowing exactly how you feel about a book because your confusion will show in the review.
  • Include quotes, or even creative content inspired by the book like moodboards and playlists! These make your review posts more attractive. Quotes can be really powerful. And Moodboards, for example, can tell you about the vibes of a book through a single picture, and this would be idea for someone who does not want to read long paragraphs!
  • Use paragraph breaks and separators. There’s no way I’d ever like to read a review in one loooong paragraph that looks more like an essay. Keep your paragraphs short (some can be even 3-4 lines! shorter paras are better than longer ones) and use separators after making a point, for example if you’ve talked about why you loved the characters of a book in 4 paragraphs, insert a separator before proceeding to talk about how the worldbuilding could have been better.
  • Highlight key points. More often than not, people like to skim read long reviews instead of reading them through, so they’ll atleast have some takeaway from your review in the form of those bold sentences. Even if somebody is not skimming the post, highlighted words and phrases stand out to them and they remember those better than the rest of the review.

Other than that, I’d just say be yourself and don’t hesitate to share your opinion while writing reviews!

Do you think reviews are effective? Which is your favourite review you’ve ever written? (self-appreciation is important!) Mine is this one – Book Review: The Ones We’re Meant To Find by Joan He. Drop your links in the comments!

~ Rachel

Discussion Post: Reviewing Books // how it has affected my reading, the kind of books I like to review, and a look into my reviewing process!

Hello people!

Why don’t we start with the elephant in the room – Rachel is writing a discussion?? Yes, yes I am. I know it has been a loooong while since I wrote a proper one, but blame inspiration. It never struck. Anywayy, onto the real stuff now!

I think most of us book bloggers, including me of course, started our book blog primarily to review books, and though we do so much more on our little corners of the internet now, book reviews still remain the soul of our blog.

I read avidly since I was really young, but didn’t always review books, in fact I’m quite a newbie as I started seriously reviewing only in the beginning of 2021. And while obviously my reviews have improved a LOT over time (please don’t read my earlier ones, they’re really cringey), today I’m gonna be talking about how reviewing has changed how I read, my take on the controversial “compulsory reviewing”, and in the second part of the post we look at my detailed reviewing process. (Oh and also, I’ll be asking myself questions since I couldn’t get anybody else to do that for me. Let’s see how that goes)

Do I read differently now that I review what I read?

Definitely. Blogging has impacted my reading in a big way. Not only am I open to more genres, the expectation of reviewing my reads has caused me to read more critically. In order to judge a book fairly, I must pay more attention to specifics like character development, the magic system, the worldbuilding etc, while also keeping enjoyment as a factor. Which brings us to the next big question.

Do I review every book I read?

Nope. Negative. (In fact, in the first quarter of 2021, I hardly reviewed any of the books I read!)
To make this appealing to math geeks, I selected 20 of my recent reads, and counted how many of them I’ve reviewed on my blog and/or on Goodreads. It came out as 11, which accounts for 55% of my reads. While that is definitely not accurate for the entire year (which is approximately when I started reviewing), it is a pretty average number for the ratio of the books I’ve been reviewing to the ones I read. And yes, while I’d like to increase this figure, I am happy with it.

In my opinion, no book blogger should feel pressured to review every single book they read. It’s completely fine if you don’t have much to say about a book. Picking up this thread, let’s move to the next major question – what can be the reason I don’t want to review a particular book?

Which kind of books do I like to write reviews for? When don’t I want to review a book?

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll see a plethora of positive reviews and barely any negative ones (scratch that. only 2 negative ones till date.) So yes, we can conclude that I love writing reviews for books I loved. I mean, of course, who wouldn’t like to scream about their newest obsessions right?

But then it is often 5 star books that are also hardest to review because sometimes… well… you just loved the book but you don’t know why exactly. Or atleast you don’t have enough words to write 10 paragraphs with. Same goes for some 4 star reads – I rate them 4 stars from instinct, because something is missing – but I have no clue what that something is. Hence, no review for such books from me.

On most occasions I find it easiest to write reviews for books I rated between 2 to 3 stars because then I have a healthy balance of things I liked and those I didn’t to include in my review.

My reviewing process!

#1 Just after I finish a book, I try to gauge my overall feelings towards it – whether I disliked it, liked it, really liked it, LOVED it… you know the thing. This is the most crucial, and sometimes the hardest, part because ultimately the way I feel towards a book decides the tone and vibes of my review.

#2 I write down pointers about the book in a curated list – this can be anything from a pros and cons list to a list of tropes featured in the book, or some general pointers about what stood out about that book. I like to do this immediately after finishing the book because the details are fresh in my mind.

#3 When I finally sit down to write the review a few days later, I make sure to refer my list. Then I organize the flow in my head – like I am gonna talk about the worldbuilding first, the characters next and the tropes later – that sort of a thing.

#4 Finally, I form complete sentences from my rough ideas. It is ironic how writing the actual review is the easiest part after doing all of the above things.

#5 And at the very end, I insert quotes and separators, and the synopsis and details – basically giving the entire thing a fine finish, and tada – you have a review ready! (whoa I really managed to make it all sound so easy)

Has reviewing books affected your reading in any way? What kind of books do you find hardest to review? What is your reviewing process? Let’s discuss in the comments!

~ Rachel