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!