Discussion post: Why reviewing books can be tough

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Most of the time I love writing book reviews. There’s a reason why there are so many more review posts on my site than any other type. However, sometimes it can be harder than you’d think to come up with a balanced review that you’re happy with – for a whole variety of reasons. Here are some of the main reasons I’ve found that reviewing books can be difficult!

  1. You just don’t care about it either way. Sometimes books just aren’t remarkable and don’t inspire any emotions at all. These are filler books – a way to pass the time but nothing to write home about. Or nothing to write about at all in fact. These don’t make for very interesting reviews – if you don’t care and can’t think of anything interesting to say, why should anyone else care about reading it?
  2. You received it as an ARC but you hated it/couldn’t finish it. Sometimes it’s easier to bury your head in the sand and put reviewing books off for a while than tell the publisher that provided you with a free copy that you thought it was garbage and no-one should waste their time on it. If you really don’t enjoy a book, it can be a real challenge to pick out some positives and present the negatives in a way that’s fair.
  3. You read it and liked it but it’s been a few months, you’ve read twenty other books since then and you just can’t remember what was so great about it. Then you either have to spend ages reading other reviews to remember the finer details of the plot, wing it and risk your own review being sub-standard, or get into the whole to reread or not to reread debate.
  4. You can’t review it without including major spoilers. This is hard. Sometimes the best bit about a book or a character revolves around a particular plot twist, but you really shouldn’t talk about it, or else you might ruin the book for others before they’ve even picked it up. It’s like playing that game where you can’t say the words ‘yes’ or ‘no’ – it’s much harder than you first think!
  5. You’ve just finished a second or third book in a series and realise that you never reviewed the first book. You could go ahead and review it anyway, but you have nothing to refer people back to. The OCD in me feels like things need to be in order and I just can’t review out of order, which means some books unfortunately go un-reviewed!

Do you ever come across similar issues? Do you have any tips for overcoming any of these stumbling blocks?

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11 thoughts on “Discussion post: Why reviewing books can be tough

  1. There have been so many books that I haven’t reviewed because so long has passed since I read them– it’s such a bad blogging habit of mine! Usually I try to write a review within a week after I’ve read the book, but sometimes it just doesn’t work out that way.

  2. As an occasional reviewer (and a constant review requester), I’ve found that taking notes as I read helps. I don’t write plot details, only impressions of things I particularly like or dislike. If you’re not a note-taker, I suggest just writing impressions that are left after you finish. If you can’t remember anything worth saying after a length of time, there must have not been anything “noteworthy” about the book. Thank all of you who review. As an indie author, reviews are essential.

    • Thanks! I do try and make notes as I go along but often forget – I know this would help though so I need to try and do it more! I feel so guilty if I forget what happens and struggle to write a review, usually I get there in the end though!

  3. I completely agree here, especially with your first point. If the book is only so-so and more of a time passer than anything it is difficult to write a review that isnt so-so. Can’t write an entertaining post about something that didn’t touch you, good or bad.

  4. Almost all of them honestly! I haven’t recieved an ARC that I didn’t like (yet) (thank God), but the others are so accurate haha! Especially the 5th point, at which I usually just reread the first book and review it anyways haha 🙂

    • You’re lucky! I’ve only had a few I didn’t like, and a few more that I didn’t care about either way, but it really does make it hard to review! I wish I had more time to reread! There’s a few on my review list that I think I really do need to go back to at some point! Glad you empathized and it’s not just me!

  5. Pingback: May wrap up | The Stacked Shelf

  6. I read on my Kindle and utilize the highlight feature a lot. Also, I write my reviews after each book so that it is still fresh in my mind when I write my review.
    I NEVER include spoilers. Sometimes this makes writing the review difficult, but if so, I just say so and comment on the writing style and who I think might enjoy this book.
    Since for the most part I choose which books I review for NetGalley and Edelweiss, I very seldom have a book I really hate. If for whatever reason I really didn’t enjoy it, I say so – always remembering to be kind to the author of course.
    The one thing I won’t agree to is writing a review for a book written by someone I have a personal relationship with, or family members of people I know. I might love it, but then I might not and I just don’t want to be placed in the uncomfortable position of saying so. This has happened to me recently. I felt sort of mean for refusing, but I felt I had no choice.

  7. Pingback: Discussion post: Overused expressions in book reviews | The Stacked Shelf

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