A lot of us started our book blogs with a focus on writing book reviews. More and more, though, the bloggers I read are finding they don’t really want to write book reviews. Some are eliminating reviews entirely, while others are relying more on compilations of mini-reviews or monthly update posts.
I can understand where those bloggers are coming from. Book reviews can feel like work instead of something that brings us pleasure. You don’t get as much love when you post a review, and full-size reviews require a fair amount of work. At a minimum, I do some research on the author or the context of a book, and I look for quotes that will illustrate my points. Often, I need to learn more about the historical context or the setting of a book to fairly critique it. Some reviews write themselves quickly and others take hours. And occasionally, a review feels deeply personal and yet it doesn’t get much notice, which is disappointing.
So I’ve been thinking about this trend and my own feelings about writing reviews. I try to post about half reviews and half non-reviews. I don’t try to review every book and I don’t force myself to write a review unless it’s for an ARC. I try to think about other bookish topics I’d like to cover.
But writing book reviews gives me a satisfaction I don’t get from other types of posts. I was a lit major in college and one of my motivations for starting this blog was the opportunity to think about what I’m reading. Book reviews make me a more careful reader and often help me clarify how I feel about a book. Sometimes a book I wasn’t sure about while reading becomes a rave review, and other times I think I loved a book but find I just don’t have much to say about it.
I understand bloggers’ rationales for not posting reviews, and I’m not criticizing anyone who wants to take their blog in a different direction. But I still love reading book reviews. So if you’re one of the many bloggers who are thinking about going to mini-reviews or monthly update posts or some other alternative to full book reviews, you should know that, even if you don’t see a lot of love, your reviews are appreciated!
My husband asked whether my book review posts get as many views as non-review posts, even if they don’t get many comments. Looking at the stats, the posts with the most comments are basically giveaways and blog hops, and those are things I did early on in my blog, but not much anymore. Here’s the surprise: of the top ten most viewed posts, only one is a discussion topic and the rest are book reviews. Also interesting – none are books that were new and hot (and a few definitely aren’t the reviews I would choose to have the most attention).
My ten most viewed posts are:
- The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom (I’ve never understood the popularity of this one)
- The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
- Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
- Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum
- The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
- Still Life by Louise Penny
- A Pair of Blue Eyes by Thomas Hardy
- The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
- Reading the Newbery Award Winners
- Small Island by Andrea Levy
Yes, it’s harder to comment on a book review, and it’s true I’m more choosy about which reviews I read. I have to be interested in a book to open up a book review post. But with posts that compile several mini-reviews, I can’t always tell what books are reviewed, and if I’m really interested in a book, there won’t be a lot of information there. A compilation post is a good way to share thoughts on a lot of books, but I still prefer an in-depth book review. I like to do compilation posts when I really need to catch up on a challenge or get out of a review slump. I’ve also done compilation posts for books that are part of series, because there just isn’t as much to say about most series books (especially if it’s not the first in a series).
In truth, a lot of times I tell myself I’ll just write a mini-review and once I get going, it turns into a full length review anyway.
Are you a blogger who’s decided not to write full-length reviews, and if so, why – and what approach are you taking as an alternative?
And as a reader, are you more likely to read a discussion, meme, or compilation-review post than a single-review post? Why?
For more posts about blogging and reading, see Feed Your Fiction Addiction’s Book Blogger Discussion Challenge.