Should book bloggers write book reviews? Discuss…

Image result for book review clip artA few months ago, I read a post on BookerTalk about how some people think book bloggers shouldn’t write reviews. I was surprised by this idea, since writing and reading book reviews is why I got into blogging in the first place.

Just to be clear, BookerTalk wasn’t suggesting this, just exploring the idea raised by another blogger who finds book reviews “boring”.

Recently I saw another post on this topic from The Relentless Reader, and I find I keep coming back to the idea. Do I post too many reviews? Certainly I try to mix things up with the occasional Top Ten List or monthly wrap-up. But I love to write about books.

It’s true that when I’m scanning through the blogs I follow, if I’m not interested in a book I’m not going to read that review. I suppose I’m more likely to read a post written about books in general or a top ten list than a review of a book I know nothing about.

I’ve enjoyed the Book Blog Discussion challenge because it’s prompted me to write (and think) more about blogging, and I feel like I’ve gotten a good reaction from those posts. But personally, I read book blogs for the reviews, and I generally don’t follow book blogs that post mostly non-reviews like surveys and lists. I want to read blogs that take books as seriously as I do. That’s my choice as a reader.

So while no one should tell people how they should blog, there’s clearly something to the idea that maybe it’s not good to just post reviews. I’d like to write more about book issues in the news, like the recent controversy over the Hugo awards. But I think a well-written, thoughtful review is a good thing. I enjoy writing reviews, and I enjoy reading them. I hear about books I want to read all the time, but it’s a detailed review from a blogger I respect that actually gets me to pick up a book.

They tell you as a blogger to stay true to your blog’s identity. Of course identity can be an often-changing thing. My blog doesn’t need to be the same as it was five years ago, but it needs to be true to who I am, and hopefully it’s still relevant to the people who read it.

One of my challenges as a blogger is that I want my blog to reflect who I am personally. Even though you won’t hear much about my personal life on my blog, I do try to infuse who I am into my reviews. I think a good review tells you why I felt the way I did about a certain book, and usually that comes from my own personal experiences. A professional reviewer won’t write that way, but as a non-professional reviewer, I think it’s important.

What do you think? What is your review to non-review ratio? What do you prefer to read?

This post is part of the Book Blog Discussion Challenge hosted by Feed Your Fiction Addiction.

  28 comments for “Should book bloggers write book reviews? Discuss…

  1. May 11, 2015 at 6:37 am

    I personally like reading book reviews but like you, I’ll probably only read the reviews if it’s a book I am interested in reading, or have already read. I like reading your book reviews so I hope you keep on posting them.

    We only just started our blog about 4 months ago and we do post a mix although I’d say over half our posts are book reviews. We do probably get more traffic for the posts that are not just reviews (our love it or hate it posts were people can vote, our reading challenges with giveaways, etc).

    However, I do think that the reason I follow blogs is so I can discover new books that I want to read. So, for the most part I follow people b/c they have similar reading tastes and/or write helpful reviews

    • May 11, 2015 at 10:33 pm

      Thanks for the comment! I agree that non-review posts get more traffic, but reviews are usually why I follow a blog.

  2. Fictionquest
    May 11, 2015 at 6:52 am

    Thoughtful post… I agree though, the important thing is to remain true to what you wish to achieve with your blog.

  3. May 11, 2015 at 7:17 am

    I read that post too, and while I like discussion posts, I think book reviews are timeless. There are reviews I’ve written 3-4 years ago that still get clicks while the discussion posts get a lot of attention but fade away as time goes by.

    It’s also maybe my personal preference, as I struggle to write discussion posts. i tend not to stay on top of bookish news or controversies, and by the time I find out about stuff, it seems like 10 bloggers have already discussed the issue to death. So, yeah reviews interspersed with a few top ten posts are what floats my blog, basically.

    • May 11, 2015 at 10:35 pm

      Nish, you raise a really interesting point about reviews being timeless, while discussion posts generate more interest long term. I think that’s why it’s also nice to review books that aren’t just the “it” book of the moment.

  4. May 11, 2015 at 7:25 am

    I confess I was surprised to learn there are people who blog about books but who never write/read are what led me to book blogs in the first place, searching for reviews of books I had read or was interested in. I’m sure I’m not alone, so I still try to post a review every Friday. But I mix it up with a post or two of another kind during the week. This year I added a discussion post once a month and those have been great. I haven’t had trouble coming up with topics so far though I don’t know how long that will last.

    • May 11, 2015 at 10:37 pm

      I was really surprised that a “book blogger” would say that reviews are boring! I’ve really enjoyed these posts about blogging. Once a month discussion posts seems like a good way to go. Just curious, do you find Friday is the best day to post reviews?

      • May 12, 2015 at 7:32 pm

        Good question — I actually wonder about that. Sometimes it seems that people’s attention is elsewhere over the weekend. But it just seemed right to me when I started my blog and I’ve stuck to it ever since. Maybe it’s just habit by now.

  5. May 11, 2015 at 8:47 am

    Book review posts are the ones I’m least likely to read (except for a few memes that I don’t think add any value), but I would be sad to see them disappear! And eviews by bloggers carry more weight, to me, than reviews from professional critics; I love being able to get to know a blogger’s taste and hear why a book did or did not work for them, personally.

    • May 11, 2015 at 10:38 pm

      Thanks for commenting Leah! I also think a blogger’s review carries more weight, if you know something about their taste in books.

  6. May 11, 2015 at 9:53 am

    Yes they should. However, the way of writing reviews can be different. A little experimentation can certainly make reviews interesting.

  7. May 11, 2015 at 1:06 pm

    I prefer reviews to anything else. I used to try to write a review for every book I read, but I don’t do that anymore. I wish I wrote more reviews than I do, but sometimes I just don’t feel it. Tags and Top Ten Tuesdays and Discussion posts to me are things to post between reviews so the blog doesn’t go a week or two at a time with no posts.

    • May 11, 2015 at 10:40 pm

      Thanks for the comment! I think I need to give up on reviewing every book I read, and just be more selective. I am really behind right now. In times of stress I find I read more, and write less. I suppose mini-reviews or a round-up of reviews is the other way to go.

  8. May 11, 2015 at 4:58 pm

    This topic generated a lot of discussion when I posted it all those weeks ago. Opinions were certainly mixed but overall it seemed what people appreciate most is a blog which has a mix of reviews and other topics. So the trick is to get the balance right for you as well as your readers. When I started out I posted only reviews but now it seems I am doing more non-review posts than reviews – it isn’t my plan as such, more a result of the fact that I take forever to write reviews whereas discussion topics come easier to me.

    • May 11, 2015 at 10:42 pm

      BookerTalk, glad you could join us! I was surprised by your post but I thought about it a lot. So thanks for prompting such a good discussion! There’s no shortage of interesting book-related topics… really for me the issue is one of time.

  9. May 11, 2015 at 9:24 pm

    I’m balking at the idea of book bloggers NOT writing reviews. I do think a mix of reviews and non-reviews is nice. Like you, I tend to only read reviews if the book itself is something that appeals to me or if I’ve read the book already. And I won’t stick with a blog if the only thing they do is post memes or lists (no matter how much I love a list).

    I do like posts that spark a discussion (like this!) and it’s more difficult to do that with reviews than something on a general topic, but even if they do generate less comments I still feel like reviews get their share of views. Comments is one way to determine the “success” of a post but certainly not the only way.

    • May 11, 2015 at 10:46 pm

      Thanks for commenting Alley! Very good pint about measuring the success of a post. I definitely get more hits on book reviews. For whatever reason The Kitchen House and The Count of Monte Cristo are at the top of the list.

  10. May 12, 2015 at 3:40 pm

    Yes. I agree with what you say. I like sites that have a bit of both reviews & non-reviews. But I’m into it for the reviews. I like writing them & reading them and discussing books. I try to personalize my reviews as well … why I picked a book up, why I wanted to read it etc. I try to keep a mix on my site of reviews and other things. But I dont like sites that are just fluff and dont review etc.

  11. May 14, 2015 at 8:54 am

    I follow blogs that are all reviews, but only go read the ones that catch my eye in my feed. I find that I visit a blog for a link up, such as being here from the Discussion Challenge, and find reviews and lists that interest me. On my blog the reviews ge the fewest comments but the most page views. This may be because people don’t want to type “Sounds great!” which is lame, but also don’t have the time to write a thoughtful comment about something specific in the review.

  12. May 17, 2015 at 9:30 am

    I do still quite like writing and reading book reviews, but you’re right, unless they’re reviews that actually interest me, I probably won’t read them, and that’s more difficult, where-as I’m more likely to read a review of a book if it’s done creatively, like as a list, or as a discussion, or something, you know? I do think you need more than just reviews in a blog though – they’ve changed over the years, and people don’t just blog and read blogs for just reviews anymore, it doesn’t work.. Great post!<3

  13. May 17, 2015 at 11:27 am

    I like to read book reviews and, frankly, if a blog doesn’t have a decent number of reviews on the first page, I probably won’t follow it. It’s nice to have other kinds of posts to mix things up, but I’m a blogger primarily because I love books and talking about books and reviews can go in-depth on specific titles whereas with top ten lists oftentimes you just get a title and a vague “you should read this” to recommend it.

    Sure, most people probably only read reviews of books they’re already interested in (even if that means simply a genre–if I see a review of a MG fantasy I had not heard of, but the summary looks good, I will read the review to see if I should be making a trip to the library), but reviews do sometimes pull in readers who might not otherwise have explored a certain type of book.

    My blog has a fairly even split between reviews and features right now, maybe with slightly more reviews. Even though everyone seems to say they don’t read reviews, the reviews get about as many views as the discussion posts and lists.

  14. May 17, 2015 at 3:40 pm

    I like reading book reviews, as well. I understand bloggers’ frustration that they get fewer views than discussion posts but that’s just because I think we all tend to read reviews selectively. If I haven’t heard of the book, I probably won’t read the review. But a discussion posts about commenting? Yeah, everyone can relate to that.

    Personally, however, I don’t follow blogs that never review. I think reviews are where you can really get a sense of a blogger’s personality and opinions. And, frankly, it’s far too easy to come up with top ten lists and discussion posts even if you haven’t read a book in the past two years. Reviews are where bloggers show that they really are readers. I think we all get a stronger sense of authenticity from book bloggers who review, whether or not that perspective is accurate or fair.

  15. May 17, 2015 at 9:53 pm

    Of course book bloggers should write reviews! For me, that’s the reason I started my blog. Now, I do try to post other things on a regular basis because I know some people don’t like reviews. Just as a blog full of only memes is boring, only reviews can get boring as well. I’m trying to include some discussion posts and lists as I go to spice things up a bit.

    Still, I post two book reviews a week, one graphic novel review a week, and the also a throwback post to an older book that I love. The rest of the week are memes and discussion posts. I think my blog is very balanced, for the most part.

    I don’t read reviews of books that I’m not interested in and I do find myself replying to non-review blog posts a lot more, so I think it’s a good idea to have a nice mix-up of both types. But a blog with no reviews is weird to me. Aren’t you reading and wanting to talk about that? I am!

  16. May 22, 2015 at 1:08 pm

    I love book reviews, no matter where I find them. I don’t necessarily read every single word, especially if they’re long, but I like skimming them to find out if the book being reviewed is one I’d like. Like you, I try to mix things up on my blog by posting Top Ten Tuesday posts and other book-related discussions, but for me, it’s mostly about reviews. Incidentally, book blogs with similar make-ups are the ones I read most often.

    Thanks for the thoughtful, interesting discussion!

  17. May 31, 2015 at 12:02 am

    It never occurred to me that book bloggers shouldn’t write reviews. Like you, I started blogging because I was reviewing! But I have changed my ratio a lot in recent months and I write less reviews than I once did. But I would never give them up!!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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