Down the Reviewing Black Hole: Do You Review Every Book You Read?

Posted August 30, 2016 by Cristina (Girl in the Pages) in Discussions / 21 Comments

Down the Reviewing Black Hole(1)Hello! Yes, I am indeed alive! After a seriously crazy summer season at work, I am returning to talk about one of the most integral parts of being a blogger…reviewing.

I’ve talked before about how important and enjoyable I find writing and reading reviews, and I usually feel duty bound to review every single book I read here. Considering I read anywhere from 50-75 books a year, this is a ~somewhat~ manageable goal. However, I know there are bloggers who read hundreds of books per year, and it got me thinking….how many bloggers review ALL of the books they read? What’s the average ratio of reading to reviewing? How many people are writing full length reviews and how many settle for mini review round ups? Perhaps most importantly, how many other bloggers out there feel cripplingly duty-bound to make an effort to review every book they read?

The Reading and Non-Reviewing Anxiety

Since I started blogging, I’ve always felt a constant responsibility to review the books I read, for both ARCs, newly published, and back list books. While I love reviewing and being able to look back later at the thoughts I had about a book, my goal to review 100% of all the books I read brings about its own kind of stress. Obviously there’s the concern over having too much of a review backlog built up, and ideally I’d like to have a 2 or 3 backlog limit (such as if I have 3 books I’ve read and yet to review, I have to write a review for at least one before continuing on). While in an ideal world this would keep me on track, it often doesn’t work so perfectly, because I generally have more time to squeeze in reading than I do blogging. Then there’s the question of relevancy- if I’m reading a book that was published 2 or 3 or 4 years ago, should it be as much of a priority as reviewing a new book that my audience will engage with more? I know authors are often so appreciative of back list reviews, but they also generate noticeably less engagement than reviews of current books.

Occasionally I have to have a mental pep talk with myself and say “It’s OK if you skip reviewing a book.” Sometimes I’m just not motivated to write down my thoughts, or I feel as though nothing I have to say is adding to the dialogue surrounding a book, especially if it’s already recently generated a lot of attention. But then this “pass” I give myself can lead to problems down the road. What if I decide I want to read and review the sequel, but I never reviewed the first book in the series (I am now facing this dilemma with Illuminae and Gemina)? What if I want to talk about the book in a discussion or recommendation post, but have no review to link back to and reference? Admittedly, sometimes there’s even the feeling of having wasted a bit of time reading it if I don’t use it to produce content for my blog…a guilt of sorts. But then sometimes it’s so NICE to have the freedom to not think about what to make note of for a review later or finding quotes to mention in a post. As you can see, I’m clearly overthinking the issue…but since reviewing is (in my opinion) the backbone of book blogging, it seems to merit at least some serious consideration if I decide to pass on reviewing a book!

A Look at the Stats So Far:

I’ve reviewed 30 out of 37 books I’ve read this year so far…which is 81%. This was actually much better than I anticipated!

Of the books I’ve reviewed in 2016:

3 have been in a mini review format

3 have been book buddies reviews

24 have been normal, full length reviews

Taking a look at the 7 books I’ve yet to review, I know that I’ll be writing full length reviews for at least 2 of the them, and mini reviews for another 2, which leaves just 3 that I will probably not get around to reviewing, which is only about 8%.

How Big a Role Does Timing Play?

I’ve noticed that there’s a HUGE difference in the quality of my reviews if I write my review right after reading than if I wait several days. I don’t usually take notes while I read, so writing my review while everything is fresh in my mind is usually best. My reviews also benefit if I am still feeling the emotions from having recently read the book, because time definitely distances me from certain feelings and opinions when I go to write a review. And sometimes, if I haven’t written a review and too much time passes, I’m just not going to be able to right it (such as what happened with Passenger).

What’s Your Reading to Reviewing Ratio?

Like most bloggers, when I am curious about a blogging related question I usually turn to Twitter for answers. I ran a poll asking about the percentage of books that most bloggers find themselves reviewing on their blogs, and found that many of them subscribe to the same mentality of must0review-all-of-the-books-read as I do:

Screen Shot 2016-08-26 at 11.20.02 PMLet's Discuss!(1)Do you suffer from reading-reviewing anxiety? How many books do you actually review on your blog that you read? Do you have to write your reviews right after you finish the book? Do you use a mini review format to help alleviate the pressure of reviewing so many books? What are some of the most popular books that you’ve read and have yet to review? Let me know in the comments!


21 responses to “Down the Reviewing Black Hole: Do You Review Every Book You Read?

  1. Kim

    Because I’m a NetGalley addict, I do pretty much review all the books I read. I feel guilty because there’s books I’ve bought or have checked out from the library that I don’t have the time to review. I’m goung to try to do a post towards the end of the year listing my top ten books I read this year that weren’t reviewed.

    • I have a love-hate relationship with Netgalley because since I have an iPad I find the formatting to be not the best (having to download the third party app to read, etc.) but it also means I focus more on reading the books I want to rather than ones I’m obligated too. I’m hoping to get a Kindle for Christmas this year though so hopefully that means I will start using NetGalley more!

      • Kim

        I’ve been forced to read some eARCS from NetGalley because the publishers (mainly Simon & Schuster and Curiousity Quills Press) don’t provide downloads to Kindle. I’ve read these on Bluefire Reader on my iPad, but I definitely find the Kindle format much more enjoyable. I hope you love your Kindle as much as I do mine!??

  2. I think I would go insane if I felt compelled to review every book I read! I have reviewed two books that I can think of that I was reading for fun, but normally I only review books I’ve received specifically for that purpose. It’s way too much stress for me otherwise.

    • That’s a god rule of thumb, because it takes pressure off of the books you’re reading solely for pure enjoyment. However, I find that I often WANT to review the books I’m reading for fun because I often have so much to say about them, so then I end up trying to review every last thing that I read!

  3. I prettttty much review every book I read, with some exceptions. I’ve decided not to mess around with most of the graphic novels I read because I never think I have enough DIFFERENT things to say about them. I don’t often review rereads (especially if I already posted the review on the blog).

    I like to do mini reviews if I “binge” a series, but sometimes the review sits in my drafts until I finish the series. I read the first HEX HALL book foreeever ago but never posted the review because I want to add mini reviews for the rest of the series in that post.

    I feel like this barely answers your question but basically if they’re ARCs or even backlist non-reread titles, I’ll review them. Sometimes I write the review for a book in a series then it gathers dust until I finish the series – then I add more reviews to the post.

    • I normally don’t review rereads unless they are books I read pre-blogging and thus don’t have a review written for them. I do mini-reviews occassionally, usually to get the pressure off from having a huge backlog of reviews, but there’s always a part of me that feels guilty doing that, like I’m taking a shortcut!

  4. Before I started blogging, I was actually reading close to 250 books a year. But then, when I started blogging, I actually went down to about 100 books a year because I couldn’t stand to not review each and every book and there just wasn’t time to write 250 reviews! Now, I kind of miss reading all of those books so I’ve started to do mini review round ups. Most of the books that end up in those round ups are ones that I just didn’t have many feelings on so I’ll write a paragraph and be done with it. Great discussion, Cristina!

    Laura @BlueEyeBooks

    • WOW 250 books a year is incredible! Reviewing is SO incredibly time consuming that I definitely see why you had to lower the volume of books you read if you’re committed to writing reviews for each and every one. I’m actually probably going to start doing more minireviews too because, as you said, there are some books where I simply don’t have enough things to say to warrant an entire full length review. I always end up feeling slightly guilty though when I do this, like I’m taking a shortcut!

  5. I don’t post reviews on my blog, but I do try to review most of what I read on GoodReads. I definitely feel like I SHOULD write a review for everything, but I usually skip it for really old books or ones I’ve read before. Like I recently didn’t review any of the Sherlock Holmes books I reread as I prepped for the future Sherlock menu on my site, since I read them for the first time years before I had a GoodReads account.

    • I am the same way often times about really old reads! Partially because I don’t usually do reread reviews, but sometimes I don’t want to pick apart books that I used to really love with my “blogging” mindset. Sometimes I”ll try to do mini-review roundups for older reads, but it’s also really nice to revisit old favorites without any sort of reviewing pressure!

  6. I definitely don’t review every book I read. Maybe one in ten? I do rate every book I read on Goodreads, where I often jot down my thoughts in order to jog Future Me’s memory, rather than to analyze the book for others. Reviews don’t have a lot of influence on what I read, and I’m really only motivated to write them when the book was thought-provoking or made me reconsider something.

    • I wish I was able to adhere to a policy like yours! It’s so much more meaningful to write a review when a book has a significant impact on me. However, that lingering unease is always there when I don’t write a review for at least a majority of the books I read.

  7. I do feel responsible to review all books I read… but yeah, that just doesn’t really happen. I usually write full review for books that really have strong emotions for me, or important, or a new release. Other than that.. I ALWAYS review all the books I read on Goodreads, even though it’s only a 1 or 2 sentences review, and then I try to write a mini reviews for them al.

    • I really like your philosophy about trying to write reviews for only books that left a impact for you or are a new release- I’ve definitely been in the situation where I don’t have a TON to say about a book, and then I struggle through trying to write a review for it!

  8. I probably review around 50% or less of the books I read … I always MEAN to write at least a little paragraph, but I almost always finish a book at night and am too tired to write anything after. I take notes while I read, but I’d much prefer writing my thoughts out before I forget them. (My memory is AWFUL!)

    I feel the same pressure as you do. I want to be able to say SOMETHING about the books I read, and feel kinda useless if I just give it a star rating and move on 🙁

    • I completely empathize with sometimes being too tired to instantly write up a review. I usually finish books on weeknights but don’t have the time/energy to blog during the week, so it’s days to weeks later usually when I’m finally writing my review. I’m trying to combat this by jotting down thoughts in a notebook I keep by my bed. I definitely do feel that sense of “non-accomplishment” if I’m unable to produce some sort of review content, which I wish wasn’t the case sometimes and I could just enjoy the sake of reading for reading.

  9. Like you, I strive to review every single book that I read on the blog. I find it extremely fulfilling, and I’ve always felt a compulsion to share what *I* think of a book (even if it happens to be extremely popular and talked about a lot). Lately, though, I’ve been in a mood where I’ve preferred writing more condensed reviews (2-3 paragraphs) or mini reviews (1 paragraph) – and I think that’s definitely made it a less stressful experience for me overall 🙂

    • Yes, I do mini review roundups every once in a while, and while I do have a sense of guilt surrounding them (because I’m not writing full length reviews) it’s a huge relief to be able to knock out so many books at once! My main concern is usually that I read faster than I have time to review, and I can end up forgetting major plot elements that I want to talk about later on! Do you take notes while you read to help jog your memory while writing reviews?

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