34 Replies to “To everyone who reviews books on their blog:”

  1. When I started college, as an English major, I practically got high off of just sitting around with other book people, talking about what we’d read and what we loved. It was so exciting to talk to people who could see deeply into a story and look closely at why things worked or didn’t.

    The longer I stayed in school and especially after getting to grad school, the more frustrated I got with the need to assign grades to those ideas and discussions, with the divisions among readers, divisions that seemed to me to separate book lovers from book analyzers.

    To me, it’s all part of the same thing. When I review on my blog, sometimes its a deep examination of what works and why, sometimes its just a quick post of YOU HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK. The bottom line–books are such a huge part of my life, I want to share them.

    That was probably WAY more than you were looking for. 🙂

  2. Not at all. Thank you!

    My own reading tastes are so quirky that I rarely talk about what I’m reading. But I am fascinated (and very much appreciate) when other people discuss what they’re reading – I take a lot of book recommendations from the blogs of others.

  3. I started out writing a little bit about every book I’d read in the week prior–whether I’d liked the book or not. But then I realized that some people were making book buying decisions based solely on my blog, and decided that it wasn’t my place to judge which books should be read and which shouldn’t. So now I have a new blog, affiliated with the store where I coordinate author readings, and I only review books that I really love. That way, I don’t hurt sales of any book (or hurt the feelings of any authors, hopefully). I guess, in light of that, I would call myself a “book recommender.” (www.GGPreviews.blogspot.com)

  4. I’ve become kind of wimpy about talking about books I’m reading, after going through a phase where it seemed every time I mentioned a current book (liked or disliked) the author got in touch with me. Around the time I went to a local concert and introduced myself to the singer–whose work I talked about (fortunately positively) on my blog–and had her say, “Oh, yeah, I saw your blog,” it finally sank in that anything I say about anyone’s work will be found through obsessive googling. So now I mostly mention books I like in public, and only get critical of the ones that have such a large readership the author’s likely too busy to google me anyway.

    And I never email someone who’s been talking about my stories–positive or negative–when I find them through my own obsessive googling, unless I already know them or they email me.

    I kind of miss having a good rant about the books that don’t work for me, though. Which sounds mean spirited to say, but well, spirited talk about books both loved and hated is fun.

  5. Hee. Cute cartoon. 😀 I’m a book reporter: I like talking about what I’ve read, why I liked it, what I learned from it. Sometimes I’ll talk about what did or didn’t work for me, but I try not to get too snarky. Reading is rather subjective anyway – who am I to be critical of someone else’s work?? Sometimes I’ll strongly recommend a book I loved, but I always worry about telling someone to read something and then hearing them say, “But I hated that book!”

  6. Eh, I guess it’s kinda true. I know some people take much different approaches to book reviewing than I do, and go much more in depth. Then again, that might just be because I’m too scared of something negative coming back to haunt me, so I stick to the “tidy summaries” camp.

  7. Sometimes when I read a book I just can’t get it out of my head, so I write a review to help me understand how I feel about the book. I like to see what other people think about books, and I figure other people out there would like to hear the same thing about the books I read.

    I think book reviewing is a great forum for ideas and helps people find books they would like to read. I guess I fall into the book discusser category.

  8. I will reiterate my stand on this thing: I shall discuss it no more, for there is nothing I can say that will allow me to come out ahead in this discussion.

  9. I started my blog only for my own tracking purposes — I was tired of picking up interesting-looking books in the library and getting a third of the way in and only then thinking, “this sounds awfully familiar…” — and so it’s written in a snotty shorthand that makes it pretty well useless for anybody other than my sister, and even she usually can’t tell that I don’t actually hate everything. (:

  10. Booktalks not reviews

    I write booktalks not reviews. I agree strongly with S. R. Ranganathan who stated that “Every reader his [or her] book. Every book its reader.” I am kind of a matchmaker 🙂 Booktalks are short teasers that entice readers to pick up the book. I never state whether I liked the book or not. It’s a great gig. And I get preview books from publishers!! Can’t beat it. But I feel like some of those characters in the cartoon that are hedging a bit.

    Nancy “The Booktalker” Keane

  11. EVERYTHING I read gets a writeup on my online reading journal. These are reactions, not reviews — I just blather about my feelings toward the book and rarely discuss plot simply because I hate writing plot summaries. On my own little corner of the web, I feel pretty comfortable expressing my personal opinion. I aim to be honest yet tactful, and I attempt to make it clear that these are subjective opinions as opposed to objective judgements.

    Books I especially like find their way to my blog. There, I try to craft something more like a traditional review — plot summary and all (gak). I believe my blog gets much more traffic than my website, so I tend to stick a closer to the if-you-can’t-say-something-nice rule. Though I’d never publicly slam a book I hate, I’m not opposed to a good rant now and then on a generalized topic.

    With the dual approach I get to have my cake and eat it too. I can be honest about what doesn’t appeal to me, and still spread buzz for books I think are super.

    I absolutely agree with janni about NOT commenting on other bloggers’ reviews of my own work. I don’t want bloggers to feel like I’m reading over their shoulder (even though I totally am). Reason being, if I want to be able to dish it, I have to be able to take it. The only exceptions I’ve made are with people I know, or when a reviewer asks a direct question about the history behind the story. But even in that case, I linked the review and responded on my own blog rather than comment directly on the original post. It doesn’t matter if the review is positive or negative — if bloggers are made to feel like authors are hovering over them, the reviews will lose their honesty and everyone suffers for it. Which is kind of a bummer, because in spite of my position on this I have had some nice non-hyper thank-yous in the last year and I appreciated them.

    Once I received an anonymous comment on a lukewarm review I’d posted of an adult biography, which I’m 99% sure came from the author. It really got under my skin, and left me with the impression that it’s unutterably tacky to refute someone’s opinion of your writing. The book should speak for itself, and readers should never feel needled, nudged, poked, prodded, harassed, reprimanded, or guilty if a book just doesn’t appeal to them. Period.

  12. Re: Booktalks not reviews

    I completely agree with this philosophy, engrained in me by my YA Lit. professor I had in college.

    The only sort of reviews/blogging I typically do about books is in a newsletter to my former students, and I just talk about the book. I may recommend it to a certain type of reader I know I have reading my words, but I try to stay away from if I like it or not; my opinion of a book doesn’t really matter when it comes to spreading the joy of books.


  13. Book Recommender

    I posted about this very topic on my blog. (http://candycana.livejournal.com/67462.html) I review for Teens Read Too for many reasons,, among them, I need to keep track of what I’ve read. And it’s another way of persuading my students to read. I know how hard it is to get published. So I feel most all books have to be well written. I only review them if I like them. There’s plenty of other reviewers out there to trash books. I’m not going to do that to my fellow writers. And if by posting about their book, it helps promote their sales, then that’s a bonus.

  14. I’ll do one of two things. I’ll either rave about a book I loved, or I’ll dissect a book from a technical perspective, focusing on an aspect of writing (conflict, characterization, pacing, etc), then commenting on how effective it was for me. I do this more for myself than for anyone else, because it helps me learn how other authors do things. Then I can learn what to do, or what not to do, if my story is in a similar situation.

    Putting this dissection out there for the public to see inspires me to look at things from multiple perspectives, and then I ask blog readers to point out anything I might have missed. Because if I missed something, I surely want to know about it.

    Hmm, since I don’t really review, perhaps I’m not qualified to respond to this post…sorry. 🙂

  15. I think of myself as two of those: “I discuss books” and “I’m a book recommender”, but even so, I most definitely view myself as a Book Reviewer.

  16. I love recommending books. But I find that my taste in books may not be everyones cup of tea.

    I’m going to try to review books on a professional level, see how it goes. But what I get from a book may not be what the next person gets from a book. All I can do is give my opinion (which really means crap to a lot of people) and sway them to either read the book. I don’t think I’d ever tell anyone to NOT read a book. I’m not God and each person should make up their own minds. If I don’t like a book, I’ll state the reason why without giving too much away. But still invite people to read the book and compare with me if they liked it, why and what did I miss?

  17. I majored in English, too, so I LOVE discussing books. But, when I’m reading for fun, I don’t usually write reviews. It’s the weirdest thing. I prefer discussing books with people to writing about it.

  18. Tabwriter said: “I’ll either rave about a book I loved, or I’ll dissect a book from a technical perspective, focusing on an aspect of writing (conflict, characterization, pacing, etc) . . . it helps me learn how other authors do things.”

    Exactly my philosophy. My blog is about writing, and I don’t consider my book discussions to be formal reviews. I either use some aspect of a book to illustrate a point about writing, or occasionally I’ll rave about some book that’s so wonderful that I can’t shut up about it.

    It’s nice when authors leave me a blog comment after they’ve read my discussion of their book, but there’s no expectation on my part that they will do so.

    As to “reading over the shoulder:” I always assume that anything I put on the Internet could be read by anyone, including the person I’m writing about. It’s a public forum, after all.

    As a reader of reviews: I don’t like reviews that summarize plot. I’d rather just see a brief hook (“Two teenagers are stranded in the top car of a Ferris wheel,” to give a made-up example), followed by enough analysis to help me figure out if it’s funny or serious, light or dark, fast- or slow-paced, etc.

    Finally, I think it’s good to have a variety of blogs and reviews and discussions out there, to suit a variety of tastes.

  19. slightly snarky.
    i write “reviews” of what I read on librarything and goodreads but it’s more for me than anyone else. I’m trying really hard to keep track of what I’m reading and what my reactions were at the time because they do change overtime. I don’t think that that counts as a book blog but it’s similar.

  20. I don’t review books but I think the cartoon is both a bit snarky and a bit true. There are people in every field who take themselves really really seriously and heaven forbid if you say that they are a book reviewer instead of a book reporter or whatever.

  21. off stage

    I kind of fall off stage, I started reviewing books for publishers when I worked for the largest book store chain in Canada. Then I thought I am already reading the arc’s why not publish the reviews in my university paper http://imprint.uwaterloo.ca After that some friends who did not have access to the paper wanted to see my reviews, so I started a blog as an archive of published and un-opted reviews. The content has grown and changed over the last 3 years at http://bookreviewsandmore.ca I mostly only review books I like, I usually do not finish books I am not enjoying. For a while one of the book columns I write for was published a s Love It/Hate It and ran two side by side. So I did finish some I did not enjoy or that hand endings I really did not like. I have loved both of your books I have reviewed. Twisted

    Steven R. McEvoy

  22. I happily blog away re: books, figuring no one in the universe is reading it, nor even knows that I do it, and I’m pretty much right. That spares me the ego pains, but keeps me disciplined about forming an intelligent paragraph for each book I read.

  23. Great cartoon. Thanks for sharing.
    I think it’s snarky and true.
    I’m not sure which of those categories I match most, because I understand each one.
    I just have fun reading and sharing, and I do my best to give my honest opinion to fellow readers.

  24. Re: Booktalks not reviews

    I also do more booktalks than straight up reviews. My goal is to get people reading and I think teasers are better than reviews for this mission. 🙂

  25. I like to think others will accept my opinion as important…

    when considering reading choices. plus, I had a lot of teacher friends who wanted to know what I was reading and whether they’d be interested, so I started a blog about it. a possibly important note: I quit teaching to go back to school to get my MA in literature, as though I weren’t snobby enough about what I read–I don’t like bodice-rippers and tend to stay away from the mystery/thriller genre and whatever Oprah’s chosen.

    which of the cartoon bloggers does that make me?

  26. I think as an author…

    I’d get tired of googling what people are saying about what I write. I’m not sure I’d want to see the negative things people find of something I’ve written once it’s been printed and is pretty much unchangeable. (I’d get obsessive, and I don’t want to become some of the authors I’ve known.)

    I like to read books not a lot of people have heard of, mostly because I know that some of them will be really good and the more press the good ones get (blog or otherwise), the better.

    I think I have yet to be contacted by an author I’ve reviewed–which I could take as a blow to my ego, but my readership is pretty small (I’m excited to be nearing my 1000th visitor since last summer when I added the counter).

  27. yes, but…

    people know not everyone has the same tastes in books. and there are some authors whose books simply never should have made it to print! what is it that Flannery O’Connor said? something about not enough writers being discouraged from publishing…?

  28. Re: I think as an author…

    I’m pretty sure most folks found me by self-googling rather than because they already read my blog, though I could be wrong.

    I think when it begins getting obsessive is when people aren’t talking about your books, and you begin looking for any feedback you can find.

    Not, umm, that I’ve been down that rabbithole in the past myself …

  29. I love author comments

    I posted about an author’s book. I was so excited she responded to the post. I told my whole family. I guess I am weird. http://www.debrennersmith.com By the way, I only post positive comments. Who needs mean stuff anyway?

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