My Struggle with Reviewing

I am a book blogger and I struggle with reviewing books. I love talking about books. I love discussing them as I read. I love recommending books after I’ve read them. But for me, writing a full blown review of a book is really difficult.

Firstly, I don’t always have what to say. If you’d ask me how I liked the book I could many times summarize everything into one or two sentences. Usually, “OMG! I loved this book! GO READ IT!” or “Eh. It was okay. I didn’t really think it was that great.” Now, sometimes I’ll expound a bit on why I felt that way. And I’m sure if I was asked a question or given a prompt things would be easier, but to just have an empty page to write my thoughts on feels daunting.

school creating GIF by SoulPancake

The dreaded blank page

However, by giving myself prompts and breaking down what I liked and didn’t like, I can usually figure out a review. The more difficult part is remembering the book, and not getting it confused with the one I’m currently reading. I tend to read lots of contemporary books, and so when I start the next one, I can get some details interchanged if the settings aren’t different enough. In addition since I’m focusing my attention on my current read, it takes effort to remember the book I finished a full 12 hours ago. I mean, 12 hours is a very long time. Again, a lot of this has to do with how memorable a book is. The less I remember, and the less strongly I feel, the harder the review is to write.

Sometimes when I’m writing a review I’ll recognize that something just didn’t work for me, but might work for other people. It’s always hard for me to strike that delicate balance between writing what I felt about a book, while trying to take into account that others might feel differently. This means I try to pinpoint what bothered me in a book as much as possible while reviewing, which has led to some realizations about my reading preferences. In fact, I was inspired to write a post going up later this month based on a pet peeve I noticed in a few books. Most of these books were ones I had to review, and I therefore took the time to figure out what bothered me.

excited new girl GIF

Me once I’ve figured out how to phrase how I feel about a book

I also have a specific struggle tied to books I was given in order for review. These can be ARCs I received in giveaways or e-arcs I was granted by NetGalley. Since the idea with those copies is for you to review and publicize the book, the pressure starts getting to me and I take FOREVER to finally draft a review. Many time the book has already come out before I can bring myself to review it. Oops. And it’s not as if I don’t try. I do. I understand how important my review can be, but the struggle is there nonetheless. Recently I’ve started reading my NetGalley copies months in advance, that way even with my procrastinating ways I can keep on schedule. This has proved to be pretty effective, and might even help me get around to reviewing my backlist NetGalley books!

But just because reviewing is difficult doesn’t mean I don’t ever review or that I haven’t enjoyed reviewing books. It just means that I’m a perfectionist and want to do the book justice. So if you ever want to know my thoughts on a book I haven’t reviewed, I’m more than happy to casually gush about a book. But if you’re waiting for eloquent paragraphs on what I recently read, well, you’ll get a review eventually. You just might have to wait a while.

2019-04-29 (1)

How do you feel about reviewing books? Does it come naturally? What tips do you have for me? And what’s your favorite review that you’ve written?

 

51 thoughts on “My Struggle with Reviewing

    1. Thanks! I go one of two ways for books I love. Either I’m an incoherent rambling mess about everything I loved, and it takes major editing to make sense of what I wrote. Or there’s something about a book that struck me so much that I know exactly what I want to highlight about that book! But regardless, it can take some time to get the phrasing right, so that I’m expressing what I love the way I think of it in my head.

      Like

  1. Great post! I totally agree, reviews are so hard to write. I always think it’ll be easy when I’m reading and then when it comes time to actually sit down and write, I’m blank and just staring unblinking at the screen. I’m sometimes tempted to just write a couple of sentences as a review, but I’d probably hate myself if I ever did that 😂 The pressure of writing a good review really does get to the head!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Definitely! While I’m reading I’m always texting my friends with updates. Sometimes I’m even smart enough to write down bullet points. But even with that, I still need to formulate 10 words into a decent size review. As soon as I sit down to do that, I come across the same problem as you! Glad to hear I’m not alone!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m always really worried when it comes to reviewing a book, I don’t want to offend anyone! I can generally get my thoughts down but I am too scared of being mean or over-praising if that makes sense? My tip would have to be, write down how you feel first and then maybe just work around that, or if it reminds you of a book, and how good you thought that book was! Thank you for putting this in words though, it makes it so much easier knowing people are going through similar things!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! I want to be honest, but I don’t want to be harsh, or gloss over what I disliked either. It’s such a hard balance to find! I try to write down bullet points, but I have difficulty creating sentences and paragraphs from those few words. It’s hard for me to distill all the thoughts in my head that the bullet points remind me of into a blog post. I’m glad to hear I’m not alone in my reviewing struggle as well!

      Like

  3. Book reviews are the posts that take me the longest to write as it can be hard to get all my thoughts down and sort through them so they are clear and resemble how I am feeling. It can be hard to get thoughts down at times and I do struggle with remembering every feeling I had about the book, like you said, as I don’t write reviews straight away. I have recently started taking pictures of pages where I had a particular thought so when I go to review the book I get read that page and be reminded of that feeling. It helps me.
    I love this post and can 100% agree with how you are feeling. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! If I’m in the blogging mood I can write a discussion post in no time, but reviews always take way more effort.

      I use a similar method in order to remember my feelings (and the plot). I’ll rant to my friends about what’s going on and I’ll write bullet points as I read. Both of those methods help me have a starting point when writing my review, but even with all that there are times I’ll write a review and then rewrite it from scratch because I wasn’t expressing myself properly the first time.

      Thanks so much! Glad to hear I’m not alone in my struggle!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I love this post so much! I think book reviews are the kind of posts I struggle to write the most – they’re the ones that take me the most time, just because it’s hard to… get started, somehow and find the right words to write them, just as well. I’m never reviewing a book right after I read it, because I just don’t have the time, so I try to take some notes when I think of it, while I read or after I am done with the read, to remember some key-points about the story. I find that making lists and bullet point reviews help me gather my thoughts and make me write my reviews a little easier, too, at times 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Forming coherent sentences out of my jumbled mess of emotions over a book is super difficult! It doesn’t even matter if I have a vague idea of what I want to say, or if I have bullet points available, I still can’t manage to easily translate that into an understandable review. The effort reviews take make them my least favorite kind of post to write.

      Since I’m pretty much caught up with review books I’m probably going to take a break from reviews over the next month. I think I’m going to try to figure out what I can do to make reviewing easier for myself during that time. If I find anything that works I’ll be sure to blog about it!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This post is all of my thoughts pulled out of my brain and put onto the internet. Honestly!

    I really struggle with writing reviews as well. Like you mentioned, I sometimes find it hard to come up with something that’s more than just one or two sentences. I also find myself short on reasonings. I’ll know that I loved a character, but can I put that love into words? Did I like their personality? How they interacted with others? Their wit? I honestly get completely boggled down just trying to find the write word to explain why I liked something.

    I also fall into what could be comparable to a review pit. Once I start reading a book that I plan to review, it almost feels like homework to read it. I have to take notes while reading, highlight important quotes, and then, the final test: trying to articulate my thoughts and feelings into a semi-coherent review. Then, one reviewing starts feeling like homework, reading starts to feel like homework. I begin to feel a pressure that I’m putting on myself to write a review the second I finish a book, and the same goes for ARCs. And, with ARCs, I feel bad if I didn’t like it and I end up writing a bad review. It almost feels as if I’m not giving the book a fair chance.

    What I have learned, though, is that my best reviews come from books that I don’t intend on reviewing. I’ll be in the middle of a book and suddenly realize that I need to tell everyone about it. That’s when the words start coming to me, because I’m not pressuring myself right from the get go. I’ve also learned that it’s crucial to give yourself a break. Yes, we’re book bloggers, but no one is expecting a review every two days, only ourselves.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing! This was an incredible post, and oh so relatable. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad to have someone who relates! Putting my emotions into words is so very difficult for me when I’m writing reviews. Anything I write is an incoherent mess! It takes major editing to get make my words understandable. I think that’s why I don’t ever make myself review books I don’t have to, even if I love them to pieces. Instead I try to find other ways to talk about them.

      I don’t know why but for me it’s the act of reviewing that makes the process so difficult. My 5 Things I Like Seeing In a Romance discussion/ recommendation post started off as a review of sorts for The Kiss Quotient, but it just wasn’t working. After I changed to format the day it was going to be posted (in total it went through at least 3 totally different drafts, maybe even 4) to a non-review post, I managed to get everything up and running pretty fast. That pretty much solidified for me that it was the thought of a review that made the process so awful. I’m trying to figure out why, but so far I haven’t figured it out!

      I’m so glad you realized that taking breaks is necessary. I’m planning on taking a break from reviewing as well, as soon as I’m caught up with my review copies!

      Thank you so much for you comment! I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed this post! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Exactly! And even then, after the major editing session to make my words sound like words, I always feel as if my reviews sound exactly the same. It’s like I somehow always manage to talk about characterization, intense description, or the actual language of the writing. And I think that that’s so, so incredible that you have found other ways to talk about those books that you love!

        Like you mentioned how your review for The Kiss Quotient changed into a discussion post, as frustrating as it may be to feel as if you can’t pick the right words for a review, it’s really so amazing that you’re able to make a totally unique post. There are tons of reviews out there, like we all have seen, and you’re coming up with new content ideas and the variety on your blog is probably one of my favorite things about it! ❤️

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I feel the dreaded “empty page” in my SOUL. That is exactly it- I don’t know what to SAY without sounding either like a bumbling fool, OR like every other review I have ever written, or most likely BOTH. Reviews stress me out, unless I am either gushing or snarking. Those are both highly entertaining, but everything else is just so HARD. I have mostly been able to stop caring tbh, because I know I am never going to be like, one of those fabulous professional-type reviewers, so I mean, if you want random weirdness and maybe some junk about the book, I’m your girl! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes!! When I immediately have what to say, reviews can be a pleasure! But that’s super rare. Normally it takes quite a bit of wrangling until I’m able to figure out what I want to say. I don’t tend to scrutinize other people’s reviews, and I’m sure mine would be fine whatever I write. But I get frustrated when I can’t put the thoughts in my head into words on the page. That’s an internal thing though, and something other people aren’t going to notice. It’s part of the reason why I love comments on reviews. It gives me a way to clarify and explain things that I struggled to convey in my review!

      Like

  7. I think we can all relate to this one. The blank page is scary and I definitely agree having some prompts to talk about when it comes to reviewing a book would help so much. It’s part of the reason I like buddy reading, being able to talk about a book with someone who has just read it too has your initial thoughts bouncing off one another.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m considering making a list of prompts for myself, but the problem is that every book is unique and has different talking points! I’ve never actually done an official buddy read, but I hope to do one in the future. I’m curious to see how talking through what’s going on and how I feel about it as I read, might affect my reviews!

      Like

  8. It is hard to review a book sometimes. This week, I had to write 8 reviews in 2 days. It was a bit much, but that’s because I fell behind. If I keep up, and write the review the same day I finish the book, it is not as difficult for me. When I am really struggling, I fall back on a more formulated review, where I have headings to help steer me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. OMG! I can’t even fathom writing so many reviews in a month! Let alone 2 days! I actually like to let my thoughts brew for a while before I actually get to the actual writing part. The problem occurs when I wait too long, and no longer remember the book I’m supposed to be reviewing!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Completely agree with you! I am a complete mood readers so often have no idea what I want to read next…and having to read and review something by a certain date is really stressful. I find 3-star books the easiest to review because I can say some good things and some criticisms. Weirdly, I find it most difficult to review books I love…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oooh, I’ve never even thought how my mood reading might play into this! I mean, I think I did subconsciously, by reading books early that way I’m in the mood to read them, and not just reading them because I have a deadline. But I agree that having a deadline makes things so muchh more difficult!

      And that’s super interesting that you find it easy to write 3 star reviews. I find those pretty tough because it takes me a while to figure out exactly what worked and what didn’t for me. With books I love I can just gush and then edit it to make more sense, but at least I have words to work with!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I love how individuals can be so different – I definitely find it easiest when I have both positives and negatives, whereas my gushy reviews are just stream-of-consciousness and often seem to make no sense, lol

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I mean, right now I’m reading a book that comes out in August. But usually I don’t have as much time to read so far in advance. And NetGalley is definitely my main motivation when it comes to reviewing. Out of all the reviews I’ve done on the blog I think that only one or two were NOT NetGalley books. I’m way too motivated by that ratio!

      Like

  10. It’s not just books, BTW. I do informal book reviews on my blog, but I write classical-music reviews professionally for a magazine and a few websites. In an informal discussion, I’d have no trouble giving my overall opinion and my reasons for it; but, faced with writing a full-length review, I “get stuck” — I have too much information and can’t figure out how to order it! Perhaps what we both need to do is _start_ with the two-sentence version and work our way outwards from that!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s so interesting! I guess formality plays a big role in reviews. I think that I get a bit too stressed out about doing a book justice for the publisher and author that it takes me forever to work up the courage to find my review acceptable! I like the idea of starting with a 2 sentence review and working from there! I’ll definitely have to try it out for a future review!

      Like

  11. Well you can’t see your struggle in your reviews Malka!! I’ve quite enjoyed your reviews and I especially love that now I know you aren’t a fan of drama. It’s neat when bloggers I follow talk about particular taste issues peculiar to them. It makes it so I can know if I’ll like a book based on whether you would. ❤️ For me I try to make it personal. So you feel like you’re getting my thoughts. If I think it may be a taste issue about certain topics for example then I just say why my feelings but that you may enjoy that aspect. It really is hard though when you know someone else may like it but you don’t. >,< Lovely discussion as always!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! I honestly appreciate you saying that because I’ve feared at times that my struggle writing the review will just make my reviews bad! And yes! I shared that I hate drama for that exact reason! It helps me when I review and recommend books, and it helps others recommend books to me!

      Oooh, yes! I love how all encompassing your reviews are! You really touch on every aspect of the book! For myself, I’m never sure if I’ve said enough or clarified certain points as much as I would like. I guess practice will make perfect!

      Thank you! 💕

      Liked by 1 person

  12. It’s so hard for me to review a book except for good, would recommend or meh, it’s okay lol That’s why I respect book bloggers and books tag ram who could churn out reviews regularly. I could never 😂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I totally agree with you! Writing reviews can be soooooooooooo hard, and I find that it is often harder for me to review books I like than books I didn’t like so much. I guess it’s easier for me to point out what I didn’t like about a book because I was born to rant! LOL I also sometimes find it easier to write reviews for a movie book when I combine the book and movie reviews.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So hard! And I hear that! Because it’s easy to know what you don’t like when you read a book, but when everything is amazing, it can be hard to articulate how exactly it worked so well! And I think that’s super interesting! But it kinda makes sense to me because when you’re able to compare the book to the movie it creates points to talk about!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I’ve stayed loyal to reviewing books for years, but I’ve definitely changed the way I go about it. A few years ago I got rid of my rating system, deciding instead to let my review speak for itself without having to lock every book into a numbered box. This makes me feel like I have more freedom in my reviews, and I can raise questions about how I feel about books without necessarily coming to exact conclusions or having all the answers. It’s nice to know that I’m not the only person who struggles with writing reviews!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s so interesting! For me I like giving a number! I still haven’t published a post about my rating system yet, (oops) but there definitely is some logic there that I’m able to pinpoint more easily that the aspects of the book that I liked or disliked. But I definitely agree that it’s tricky to come to exact conclusions, or even to know which questions to ask in the first place! You are definitely not alone!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Great post (:I think the part of reviews that I find hardest is trying to get a balance between sharing what you felt without saying too much. It can be really tricky to get what you felt written down without saying exactly why you felt that way as, at times, going into that kind of detail would spoil the book for others. I do agree about pressure when you’ve been sent a book too, especially if in the end I don’t enjoy the book in question. Negative reviews are so much harder to write than positive ones, in my opinion, as you have to try and say what you disliked in a way that hopefully isn’t insulting to anyone. I am always honest still in those cases and say what I didn’t like but I end up feeling really bad for doing so.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Yes! That’s exactly how I feel! I try keeping all my reviews spoiler-free, but that can make it difficult for me to discuss what I liked or disliked about a book! And review books definitely are tricky when you don’t enjoy them! I never want to hate on a book, and it can feel very mean when you just have a list of things that you don’t like about a book! But on the other hand I need to give my honest opinion! I try to find a balance between an honest review and a kind one whenever I dislike a book. I hope I succeed!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Exactly. It can be such a pain if you want to be more specific about something that you loved or hated within a book but can’t as it’s too spoiling for people who haven’t read the book yet. I completely agree, it can feel mean if you have a list of negative things about a book (especially as I know how hard an author must have worked on it) but you do need to be honest otherwise there’s absolutely no point in writing a review. I’m sure you do (: I’m about to read a couple of your reviews now though so I guess I’ll find out 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  16. I find reviewing so hard! I can never figure out how to get my thoughts across in a coherent way so I haven’t reviewed anything on my blog in a really long time! I think having a concept of what you include in your reviews could help or questions to ask as you read might make the concept less of a burden or stressful situation. I still haven’t figure out a setup for myself but it’s a learning process!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Honestly, if it weren’t for review copies I probably wouldn’t review books either! This month I’m challenging myself to write mini reviews on Goodreads for everything I read in order to make writing reviews more natural! I’m hoping it helps!

      Like

Leave a Reply to Lauren @ twenty-seven letters Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s