The benefits of reviewing

Paper cut of heart on old book

I’ve read that reviews are some of the least liked posts in the book-blogosphere. I’m not terribly surprised, after all, I’m following a few blogs and the reviews are, statistically, the posts I skip the most, but it’s not because I don’t like them, it’s simply because I’m less interested in reading a review of a book I don’t know, or a book I have no intention of reading. So, maybe that’s what people mean when they say they don’t like reviews. In the end, which reviews do I read ? Reviews of books I’ve already read to know what the blogger thought about it (and how their views may differ from my own) and reviews of books I plan on reading (although I generally skim through the review to avoid spoilers).

But despite this general consensus, I still think reviews are really important.

No matter how you structure your review, the ultimate goal is always to give an honest opinion of a book, and eventually influence others to read it too. We live in the age of social media, and participative audiences are ruling the internet, so it’s a given now that every opinion matters and is worth sharing. You’re not force-fed ready-made concepts, you’re more aware, and you have more power (I’m still amazed at the whole Dylan Saccoccio debacle). Of course, you could say that reviews are good for those who read them, but I think it’s especially good for those who write them.

Long can be good

I studied literature for a while : first in high-school – things work a little bit differently in France, and you can sort of choose a “major”, a speciality at least, when you’re in high-school – then in college, so I can say that I’ve had my plate full of really in-depth book analyses. Except that my general problem was that I had trouble expending my ideas, everything I had to say was a little too concise (for a literature major). But then, I started to write reviews. A lot of it was rambling at first, still kind of is, but it definitely helped me structure and develop my ideas. They were a sort of free trial for all the essays I’ve had to write. And more fun too. So, in addition to being clearly therapeutic – because you need to get all those thoughts and ideas and feelings out ! – I also benefited from all this added practice. And, it also worked the other way around !

How things have changed for me now

I’m still technically a student now, but also not. At least, I’m not studying literature. I’m following the professional route, meaning that I’m working part-time for a job I’m also studying for. Anyway, the methods are different. You have to be able to explain your idea as concisely as possible, use simple, easily-understandable sentences, not ramble. Professional writing. And for those who’ve had years of “the more thorough, the better” battered into their brains, the transition can be a bit difficult. But, just like before, as a consequence, my reviews are getting shorter. I don’t think I’ll ever get to a point when they won’t be over 300 words, but I’ve made some interesting progress so far.

The deleted scenes

I actually like the way I do things on this blog. Since I have the option to put a “read more”, it’s really useful for my review posts. The goal is to provide all the necessary information on the first part of the post. You see this format everywhere because it works : title, author, publication date and publisher ; an easy access to Goodreads because it makes you save time ; a summary ; a rating and, I personally added a short comment basically summing up what I thought about the book. But you can also add as many link-to as you want, the number of pages, mention if the book is part of a series, the genre etc. All this information can usually be seen at a glance when you scroll down the blog. I consider the “my thoughts” section, the actual review, a little bit like a director’s deleted scenes : not completely necessary to the plot, but those things that the die-hard fans will probably want to see. Hence, why I only read reviews of the books I know : it’s obviously more interesting to know what the blogger is talking about.

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What makes you want to read a review ? How do you write your own ? Tell me everything.
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5 thoughts on “The benefits of reviewing

  1. Leona says:

    I read reviews on Goodreads and blogosphere for the books I heard about by word of mouth or the books i’m planning to read. I have a rather huge TBR stack and the reviews help me prioritize the books, decide which ones to read first. I also follow the book blogs covering the genre I read, to discover new books. Most bloggers write either spoiler free reviews or warn about spoilers, though some don’t and your post made me realize I should make it clear I post spoiler free reviews. I take pains to keep my reviews spoiler free and I’d be sad if people are not reading them to avoid spoilers.

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  2. bookstogetlostin says:

    I mostly read reviews about books I have read or if a book interests me and I want to know, if I should give it a go.
    But there are blogs who I really enjoy reading and on those I read every review or at least skim it.
    Otherwise… if a title sounds interesting or I like a cover, I’ll read the review as well.

    Regardless of why I have read a review, I find them to be really important and they help me to decide if I want to buy a book or not.

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  3. Angelized1st says:

    I tend to only read reviews of books after I’ve read them to avoid spoilers. And only if it was a book that I’m dying to read what someone else thought about it. Other than that, I usually won’t. Unless the cover grabs me. Then I’ll try to skim it. If the reviewer is someone with similar tastes to mine I’ll add the book to my Goodreads TBR.

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  4. Tracy (@Cornerfolds) says:

    I definitely agree with you that reviews are read less often. Another interesting trend I’ve noticed on my own blog is that I get a TON more comments on negative reviews than positive ones. I’ve definitely changed the way I review since starting the blog – there’s definitely a learning curve! I’ve had to work on shortening them too because I realized that I usually just skim when reviews are too long and I’d rather people take the time to read what I have to say! Great post 😀

    Tracy @ Cornerfolds

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