Why I Still Read and Write Reviews

Posted April 15, 2015 by Cristina (Girl in the Pages) in Discussions / 48 Comments

DiscussionMasterLately there seems to be a consensus that review writing is sort of the “chore” aspect of running a book blog. People seem to think have to do it to be a blog, but it’s not the “fun” part of being a blogger. Many complain that review posts don’t drive as much engagement to their blog as features or discussions, or they feel that readers are more likely to skip them. It seems more bloggers are turning away from writing reviews or trying to find alternative formats for review writing. There’s nothing wrong with either of these approaches, or having these feelings.

However, I still really enjoy reading and writing reviews.

Writing reviews is the catalyst that started my blog in the first place. I wanted a space where I could talk through me feelings about the books I read, and have a space where I could record my thoughts about them for future reference. Integrating myself into the book blogging community made me love reviews even more, as I realized that people seriously wanted to know my opinion and in turn I could find even more book recommendations from reading reviews. I cross post all of my reviews to Goodreads and one of my favorite things to do when I add a book to my TBR is to go to that book’s Goodreads page and see what my friends have thought of it. Whether it’s a raving, scathing, or balanced review, I love seeing bloggers write about their experiences with books through reviews.

I also find that I have meaningful engagement through my book review posts, even if it’s not quite as much as a meme or feature. Every comment by someone telling me that I’ve really made them want to read a book or that they appreciated reading my analysis on a novel gives me that blogger-glow that comes from knowing I am sharing my passion and love for books successfully. There’s few feelings as rewarding as having someone come to you and tell you that a book you reviewed and recommended is now a new favorite of theirs.

I still appreciate the basics of my book blogging.

For me, reviewing books was the foundation of my blog when I started over a year ago and it’s something that will always be central to my mission as a blogger. I love long reviews, in-depth reviews, passionate reviews, and critical reviews. I love having a record of my thoughts on a book to go back to. I love being able to have a review written to back up a recommendation I give for a book. Not everyone feels this way, and there are so many book blogs I love that don’t have reviews as their central focus. However, I don’t feel reviews are passΓ© and I think they are still a central and important part of the blogging community.

What’s your stance on reviews?

Do you enjoy writing reviews or do you see them more as a chore? Do you still read reviews? Do you find you get discussion and engagement on your review posts? Do you think book reviewing is still a foundation of book blogging, or that the focus is shifting? Let me know in the comments!

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48 responses to “Why I Still Read and Write Reviews

  1. Amy

    I still enjoy writing the reviews. I know people read them and comment more over on FB then the blog itself. Mainly though I write the reviews for me. I love series and I need that reminder of what I thought of the last book. It is just a bonus that others enjoy reading them too, especially when they tell me they read the book because of what I said. Sometimes I almost feel as if the other types of posts are the chore, like Top Ten Tuesday, or my weekly check in posts. Sometimes it is a pain to come up with topics to post about and I skip a week. Like you though, I still love the book reviews even if they don’t get as much attention.

    • My reviews are a HUGE help when it comes to series when I’m waiting a year or more between installments! Memes can definitely be a chore and less original feeling, but they’re a great way to integrate yourself into the community, at least initially.

  2. I agree with you- I started blogging to keep a record of my thoughts on books so I could go back and read them anytime I wanted to, and that motivation is still true today. Also, writing reviews helps me organize my thoughts about the books I read and allows me to practice writing/thinking critically. While I do sometimes like to switch it up a bit and write reviews in different formats, I don’t think I’ll ever get rid of the basic book review completely.

    • Reviewing is a GREAT way to practice critical reading and writing. I started writing reviews as I neared the end of college and now that I’ve graduated they’re a great way to keep those skills sharp! I sometimes switch up my format but I always seem to go back to the same format that I prefer that’s streamlined and organized in a way that’s easy for me to go back and reference.

  3. Being basically an infant in the book bloggersphere I have to say I get more hits on my reviews than I do nearly anything else. I enjoy reading reviews and writing them as well. Maybe it’s more people trying to have a well rounded blog. I know I want to have many things that many people are interested in.

    • Having a well rounded blog is definitely important, and I think the attitude of not liking writing reviews comes more from bloggers who have been writing reviews for years and are a bit worn out (which begs the question of how many books out of the books you’ve read are you reviewing? If you’re reading 50+ books per year, the time it takes to review each one really adds up!) Welcome to the book blogging world, and I’m glad you’re enjoying writing reviews so far!

  4. I think reviews are very important because it shows a book makes you feel and think deeply. I am just not completely confident on writing them yet. I think they require a certain amount of bravery… I posted a discussion on reading reviews on my blog.

    • The more you write the more you fall into your own review “style” πŸ™‚ That’s definitely true for me, and if you look back through my review archives you can see the changes over time. However, as long as you’re writing reviews for yourself and your feelings about a book most readers will appreciate them and enjoy them!

      • I think I’m going to try and work on one tonight. It’s just working on my confidence. Thank you for the advice =] I do enjoy book blogging though I feel like I have a niche

        • Of course! Honestly I often see reviews as just a stream-of consciousness sort of activity, and I like to pick out a few things that really stood out to me as major talking points and then sort of fill in my other thoughts around them!

  5. Reviews have always been fun for me and they continue to be. If anything, I seemed to have really found a passion for it again and can’t wait for school to be over so I can focus more on writing them! The way I look at it is if I don’t get very many “hits” on a certain review, that’s ok! I now have a reference for that particular series/author/book that I can refer to later when I want to pick up the next book.

    I only recently started to do more “memes” and features and I find them to be a little more daunting at times. There is so much more conscious thought that goes into them and it can be exhausting to create list after list. It gets a little monotonous after awhile. I started to do them because I wanted to get more discussion on my blog and they’ve been a little hit or miss in that department. At the same time though, I’ve always viewed my blog as an information source and not a back-and-forth discussion. I’m not saying that blogs should solely be used to post your thoughts and not open the floor to discussion (the entire point of a blog is communication): my point is that if you want more discussion there are other places for it that may be more to your liking (like book clubs or groups). That’s why I’ve made a decision to only post 1 max “feature” per week and alternate what ones I do so it doesn’t get repetitive.

    I think that people need to realize that sometimes there just isn’t anything to say and to not take it personally. Lots of people read my reviews but few people comment on them. Either you’ve read the book I’ve posted about or you didn’t and you can only post so many “Great find” type of comments before you get bored. It sucks because everyone likes their work to be appreciated and getting those comments or likes is a great way to be reminded of that. But at the end of the day, I had fun writing that post and reading that book and that’s enough for me πŸ™‚

    (Boy that was a long comment! Sorry!)

    • No need to apologize! I LOVE long comments, especially on discussions! I worry less about the hits on my reviews like you because I look at them as a great resource! (And also a post that will never go “out of fashion” because it doesn’t matter when it was written, it’s a good reference for anyone at anytime looking up info about a book). Memes can definitely get competitive, and if it’s a topic I’m not very motivated by I’ll usually skip it.

      I really like your point about sometimes there’s just not much to say. This happens a lot with middle of the road books for me (although I tend to be pretty wordy in most circumstances). Sometimes with a 3 star read it’s just OK, nothing too good or bad. In this instance I may do a mini-review or a bundled review with some other books I didn’t have a lot to say about, and I try not to stress about not reviewing a book if I don’t have much to say about it. Likewise, I read A LOT of reviews but usually comment on them less than other posts, because more likely than not after I read them I’m heading over to Goodreads and adding them to my tbr!

      • It’s hard to keep short comments about discussion topics–there is just so much to say!
        Like you said, a review blog is a reference and my most viewed posts today are ones I wrote a year ago. Which is fantastic and exactly what I hoped for when I created my blog!

  6. Tara

    I still love reviews because I like having a written record of what I’ve read and how I felt about it. However, I get stuck between loving HAVING WRITTEN reviews more than WRITING them. What was finally a big weight off my shoulders was giving in to not writing a review for every book I read. Instead, I’m sticking to one a week. This way I can enjoy writing about the books that I actually have something I want to talk about! But I love reading other reviews on Goodreads at all stages of the reading process (before, during, and after reading a book) and I’m glad I now have my blog set up to auto-post to Goodreads, which should mean I’m actually contributing something there now! I also love reading reviews on blogs, especially when they are well written…as yours most definitely are!

    • Reviews are definitely more rewarding feeling in retrospect than in the moment. I’m still in the mode of writing a review for every book I’ve read, which was manageable when I was reading 50 books a year but now that my reading has increased I know I will probably have to cut back somewhere. I can literally spend hours on Goodreads looking at reviews! Having your blog set up to Goodreads sounds SO convenient, it’s definitely an extra step that’s time consuming if you’re copying and pasting your review. Thank you so much for the compliment! πŸ™‚ I’m glad you find my reviews to be thoughtful!

  7. I’m so torn with reviews – I LOVE when I read a book, and the second I’ve turned the last page I can’t wait to get on my blog and put all my feels into a review, I love being proud of that review and feeling like I did my love for the book justice. However, that doesn’t happen as often as I’d like. I find it hard to be overly critical in reviews, or at least I did – but I’m getting better at it I think. The hardest reviews for me to write are the middle of the road ones, and I’m considering doing a review round-up for books where I just don’t have a full review worth of opinions in me. That being said, they are usually the posts that get the least engagement on my blog, which can be disheartening as they’re so time-consuming. I also like to shake up the layout every now and then, but OCD me has to go back and make them all look the same… I still enjoy reading and writing reviews, but they can be challenging!! R x

    • I definitely find my motivation to write reviews is much higher right after I’ve finished reading it…if I wait days or weeks later then it can become really daunting. If I can’t write one right away I’ll usually at least start a post draft where I’ll do an outline of my review with the major talking points I want to hit and then come back and fill it in later. I’ve considered doing review round-ups as well, but sometimes I feel sort of guilty for not giving a full length review for each book (although it certainly saves time! I’ve been doing this with re-reads this year). I usually like to keep my reviews in the same format as well, they look so much cleaner!

  8. I enjoy doing reviews because they force me to think about a book differently and really analyze why I feel the way I do about a book. I admit I won’t read a review if I don’t think the book sounds good, but most of the time I at least skim them.

  9. i still love reviews. and i will always be… and so i also love to read reviews written by followers and following… πŸ™‚ It serves as reminder that you’ve once, or more than, traveled on different world and met different characters… and so reading reviews, you’ll remember the feeling of excitement, intensity, longing, etc…. and so a reader should really write reviews as they started. πŸ™‚

  10. I started book blogging because I wanted to write reviews, but I admit that sometimes it can feel like something I have> to do rather than something I want to do. And sometimes I run right into a brick wall called writer’s block and I just can’t put a decent review together. I’m getting better at letting myself off the hook with these. I still think book reviewing is important. These days book reviews are the first thing I check out before following a blog.

  11. Strangely enough, I love reading and writing reviews that are highly critical – usually 1 or 2 star reviews. Call me a terrible person but those are the most fun for me to read for some reason. Coming in close second is actually writing mediocre reviews because then I can discuss everything wrong and right with the book and it isn’t just YAY AMAZING or THIS WAS TERRIBLE. I don’t normally read entire reviews that are longwinded praise. If the blogger has a sort of summary section at the bottom, I’ll read that and then skim the rest of the review especially if I’ve never heard of the book. I try not to be biased towards or against books I haven’t read yet although for books I have read, I’ll pour over all the reviews I can find! This is such a great topic! I might end up doing this topic as well on my discussion post tomorrow (I’ll be sure to link back :D)!

    Laura @BlueEyeBooks

    • Summary sections are great! Middle of the road reviews can actually be the LONGEST for me, as I have so much I want to discuss about everything! I do the same thing as you, for books I’ve read I love to pour over reviews and see what other people thought! (Almost more so than with books that I haven’t read). Looking forward to your post tomorrow, thanks for the link back!

  12. Liza Barrett

    Reviews are my favorite posts to write for all the reasons you described above. I’ve recently started getting more creative with them too, which has been a lot of fun. And lately, I get about as many comments on my reviews as I do on most of my other posts. It’s the comments on my reviews that make my day — comments elsewhere are great too, but they don’t give me that same pick-me-up.

    Great post, and thanks for bringing up the other side of this discussion πŸ™‚

    ~ Liza @ Classy Cat Books

    • Comments on reviews definitely give the best pick-me-up, because it’s such a reflection of people really engaging not just with your content, but content that really reflects your personal thoughts and feelings. Totally agree!

  13. I love writing reviews because I get to see how more in depth about how I felt about a book and I go back to my reviews to jog my memory about books. This is useful when I’m reading a sequel lol

  14. My stance on this is basically exactly the same as yours. I love writing reviews and I love reading reviews – they’re actually my favourite posts to read especially if they’re by bloggers I follow and love. And the longer and more in depth, the better! (I know I’m kinda in the minority with this one but hey). It’s what I base 99% of my book purchases on these days so they’re definitely still important to me.
    Reviewing was the sole reason I started my blog, I used to love scrolling through and reading Amazon book reviews and thought hey, that looks fun! Then I started to do it myself – before I even knew a book blogging community existed. Reviewing some books can be a chore though if you feel kind of ‘meh’ about them, so I’m thinking I might bring in more mini reviews for books I feel this way about.
    I understand why some people are stopping them though, book reviews do receive less traffic because not everyone is interested in picking up the same books whereas discussions are more universal and therefore get more interaction. I still love writing reviews though, even if it’s just for myself. πŸ™‚ I do think it’s impressive seeing the inventive ways people are coming up with to talk about books without reviewing them though!

    P.S. Loving the ‘blogger glow’ term, so accurate!

    • I totally agree with you about the longer the better! (That’s why I love your reviews! Less is not more in this case, even if a review is super long I can be sure I’ll find relevant information to any aspect of the book I’m looking for, rather than a short review that’s barely more than a plot summary!) Bringing in mini-reviews is definitely something I need to work on doing as the amount of books I read increases, because sometimes (especially with re-reads) I just don’t have as much to say for a *full* post (although I’ll be honest, a “mini” review for me is usually a full post for someone else…I’m very wordy!)

      • Hahaa don’t even! The eclectic mini review post I did recently? I gave myself a 300 word guide for each book, which would make the post 900 words plus and intro or any extra I needed. Could I stick to it? No. I am a failure at being short and snappy! My mini reviews so often end up being long enough to warrent their own post. Oy.

        Also, thanks for the compliment! Us wordy bloggers gotta stick together. πŸ˜‰

  15. Sometimes reviews become a chore, only because of the fact that they are A LOT longer to write compared to a meme post. Most of the times I read other people’s reviews but lately I have been finding it tough to sit down and read the whole thing. :'(. Honestly, reviews are one of the first things I look at when I discover a new blog. Great post!

    ~Kaitlin

  16. I think writing reviews is such an important and awesome part of the book blogging community! It’s awesome on so many levels for many different reasons! I think it’s so great because not only does it get the word out about a book, it gives you and others the opportunity to discuss your thoughts on the book, just the same way you discuss opinions in a discussion post! Great post!

    • Reviews were the foundation of my blog, and while I love doing Features and Discussions now, reviews are still some of my favorites to post and write. I love being able to look back on them as well for my own persoal reference, and it’s really rewarding looking back at your review indexes and seeing how many you’ve written!

  17. I love reviews. Like you, reviews were the foundation of my blog when I began a few years ago, and it will always stay this way. It does sometimes feel like people don’t read them or don’t care, but I guess in the long run it doesn’t matter to me because my reviews are records of my thoughts for MSYELF. Of course I LOVE when I am able to help find someone a new book or have a discussion about our differing opinions, but even without those things I’d probably still write reviews. And I’ll always read them as well. I might not read a super long one (I’d skim instead) because I don’t have a ton of time for blogging right now, but I love hearing what other people think about books I’ve read or discovering a book I wouldn’t have been exposed to otherwise.

    This is a great post, by the way!

    • Cristina (Girl in the Pages)

      Helping find someone a new book is SUCH a rewarding feeling as a blogger! I agree with you, even if I don’t have time to read a longer review I can usually skim it and find key points that I’m interested in! Reviews are still one of my favorite types of posts to write, especially for the reason that you mentioned- I love having a record of my opinions about what I read! Thank you so much for the wonderful comment and for stopping by!

  18. I love writing reviews. Recording the books I read and my thoughts on them is one of the reasons I started my book blog. I remember being encouraged to do so by reading other’s reviews and seeing how much they helped me decide whether or not to pick up a book. I also think seeing what other people think about the books I’ve read is a lot of fun! Nowadays, reading reviews serves as way to make me frustrated over all the millions of books I want to read. But I wouldn’t have it any other way!

    Bruna recently posted: Review: Delirium by Lauren Oliver
    • Cristina (Girl in the Pages)

      Reviews were and are still a big factor in whether I pick up a book, as I really value the opinions of other reviewers since they’re taking the time and initiative to write about their experiences!

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