Saturday, August 6, 2016

Discussion: The pressure of Writing Book Reviews

Since creating Magiverse (my blog) and getting intensely more involved in social media; twitter, instagram, goodreads... I've been feeling the need not only to read more, to be right on to the "hottest" stuff with everyone, but also to review more. 

And that need put intense pressure on me and pushed me into an even worse reading slump than I already had. 

Seeing bloggers reviewing literally every book they read, so effortlessly, made me doubt myself. I started thinking: what if I'm just not good enough? What if I can't review every book I read? What then? Will my blog even be a book blog? 

It got to the point when all I could think about while reading a book was how to review it. Only then did I realize how much pressure to review books did I put myself under. 

Reading books is fun, beautiful, unique, immersing and the most magical experience in the whole world. It shouldn't be treated as a job.
I cannot treat it as a job.
Otherwise... reading will lose all meaning for me. 

When I see reviewers reviewing a book according to categories - plotwise, characterwise and such - I feel... how to say it? Less feelings and more professionalism.

I mean no disrespect for everyone who review this way, of course. There is nothing wrong with professionalism. Professionalism is a good thing.
It's just that, personally, when I read a book - when I review a book - I go by my heart.
Every book is a unique experience and so I review every book according to how it made me feel. Which means every review is different from the previous review and from the review after it. 

Back to the pressure of writing book reviews: 
I don't feel like every single book brings up a review out of me. It doesn't make the book I read any less than what it was. It only means, for various different reasons, that I'm unable to review it.

It took me a long time to realize I shouldn't put pressure on myself to review books.
I love reading books, and I absolutely love sharing my thoughts and feelings about them with you, but if it doesn't come from the heart... it won't really be from me, now would it?  

But now, let's hear what you think.
 Did you ever feel\are feeling that pressure in the blogging community?
How do you feel about reviewing books? Everyone has their own style - what's yours?
Do you agree\don't agree with my opinion?
I'd love to hear your thoughts!
As always.
 Until then...

"If we were in a film, the villain would turn out to be the least expected person. But as we aren't in a film, I'd go for the character who tried to strangle you."  
-- Ruby Red, Kerstin Gier


  1. I feel this so much!!
    I try not to change my reading habits because I fear I'll love the pleasure of reading if I try to be too 1book/1review! When I don't really know what to write I make a little review on goodreads like "I liked this because..." and that's it! Some books are harder than other to review... I also try to not read reviews for books I'm writing about to not be influenced or feel like my review is unprofessional :o
    Overall I try to write what I would write to a friend to let them know what I thought and that's it! I also try to mostly write about books I enjoyed or that I feel other people might enjoy :)

    1. Hey, Lucille!
      Oh yay, we think alike (:
      I, too, usually don't read reviews for books I haven't yet read (especially those I'm most excited for) so to not influence my opinion on them before I even picked them up. Well... it's monstly the bad reviews I don't read. The good ones are always great ;)

      That's a great idea! You don't have to write a thousand words worth of review. If it doesn't come out of you... it doesn't come out of you. It's enough to just declare "I loved this book because..."
      And, really, imagining like you're writing this to a friend is a great idea to help you actually write it (:

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this discussion! :D

  2. This is something I've been thinking a lot about even before I started blogging. Reviews are scary for me. As you might know, my reviews are what you call on the "professional" side, because that's how my brain organizes information. It's hard to explain, but when I want to talk about a book I want people to understand EVERYTHING I got from it, so that's why I go ahead and analyze characters, plot, themes, and the writing itself. This has proven to by easier for me to write, but not as enjoyable. It's very hard for me to write a review! I've been meaning to change my style, but I have no idea how to do it. When I try to write a review base on the emotional side by itself, I can't publish it. I feel like something is missing! But when I read those types of reviews, I don't feel like that at all. So, I think that it all comes down to how my brain processes information, which sucks. It obsesesses over every little detail, and if I don't get it out, I feel anxious. I'm on my way to discover a better reviewing style that makes it less of a job/task and more like it should: me sharing my thoughts on a good or bad thing I read. Just focusing on the fun! Because book blogging is by hobby and it shouldn't feel like work as you said!
    I'm not sure I'm making sense but I really appreciate this topic. I think it's going to be of help for me to write more "carelessly" and not being so strict about it all.
    Great post as always Zoey :D

    1. I totally get you. When I review a book, especially if it's an amazing book, I want *so much* to convince people to read it that I want them to know everything there is to know about the book.
      Which is hard, because all I end up saying is: "It's so good! It was amazing! Oh my god, you have to read this book!"
      So, really, the professional approach is the one that gives people the most information about the book.
      And the emotionl approach, the one that comes from the heart, is easier to connect to. Not to mention, the enthusiasm that comes from the emotional reviews is very catching. Many times I found myself wanting to read a book just because a blogger raves all about it.
      My point is, both professional and emotional reviews are great. It all comes down to your personal preference. Like I said, mine is the emotional one ;)

      You're not alone in those feelings!
      Constantly second guessing myself should be mu middle name. It's my worst quality. Not only does is prevent me from writing reviews\post, it also terrorizes my writing process.
      I have yet to find the magic cure for this. If you ever find it, please share it with me. I need it badly.

      My only suggestion is this: don't re-read what you wrote until you finish the post\review\whatever you're writing. Only when it's finished, go back and edit. I found it to be great help (:

      Write what you feel. Write what comes naturally to you. When you find your rhythm, you'll know it. Until then, try different things until you find it (:
      I think I should listen to my own advice, though. I get constantly scared of boring people with my posts\reviews '^^
      I'm sure we bloggers all feel those self-concious feelings.

      Thanks, Esther! You're the best :D

    2. I will try that right now because I'll be trying to write a review for tomorrow. I think it's a great idea because then you have a bunch of ideas and you only need to perfect them! Thank you for that great advice Zoey. YOU are the best ;)

    3. I'm always happy to read your comments and discuss things with you :*)
      Good luck on your experimental review ;)
      I hope it'll turn up great!

  3. I agree 100% with this! Ever since I began blogging, I've felt strangely pressured to read as much as I can, just so that I can review them. But blogging to me should first and foremost be a way to express the feelings you experienced while reading. It should an outlet, in a way that defines what you're trying to convey!

    1. Yes, exactly! Right now I'm trying to do the opposite of putting pressure on myself. When I read a book, I tell myself "it's okay if you don't write a review about it. Just enjoy the book. That's what most important."

      I always have what to say about a book I read, but does it necessarily have to be a review? No. It can be anything between a few words on twitter to a few sentences of your blog\instagram. For me, I feel like the *real* reviews are reserved to the books that really blew me away in some way - both positively and negatively.
      I hope it makes any sense '^^

      Thank you, Erika! Oh and by the way, I'll try to reply to you on goodreads soon. Sorry for the delay. I was so happy to read your
      message :D

  4. I love reading review that focuses more on emotional aspect, for me it's more tempting to lure me in. Haha. And yeap, I tend to review every book I've read, but it's out of a habit rather than a job. But now I'm feeling a bit pressured to update my blog regularly though, seeing that many people are being active on their own blogs. Huhu. And it's worse that I am a slow reader, so my reviews are posted like, once in a while.

    1. So we're the same in our review preferenes ;)
      It's so great when your reviews come naturally, as a habit! :D
      Seriously, it's the best way to write a review.

      Tell me about it.
      After writing this post I thought: "maybe I should also make a post on the pressure of updating your blog."
      It really starts to stress me out. I see people updating their blog so frequently that when I take a break for a few days I'm terrified everyone will forget about my blog and it would all be over.
      Don't know what to do with those feelings, really ^^

      A slow reader, huh? You probably savor each and every book (:
      I'm a fast reader. I literally fly through the pages ;)

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this discussion, Clara! Really, I'm so happy to read everyone's opinion. They're all so uniqe and
      different ^__^

  5. I feel ya Zoey, the pressure is always there to do better, even if you're a beginne or even someome who's been at it for a while. At first I literally felt the need to read faster and get more books so that I could update. But in the end that only put me into a book slump. So yeah I agree that not every book needs to be reviewed. If you don"t review it, it doesn't necessarily mean its bad, it just means that you just don't have the right words to describe how you felt about it. And thats okay. Great post Zoey!!! ~♡

    1. I couldn't agree with you more!
      That's *exactly* how I feel (:

      Luckily, I'm starting to get down a little bit from my frenzy to update\read\review more-more-more. Because, really, all it did was put me into a reading slump, which only worsened my chances of writing reviews.
      I'm going to take it easy from now on. I'm going to read and read and read. And if it won't get a review out of me? No matter. Eventually a book that would will arrive.

      Why, thank you ♡
      I'm so happy to hear this :D
      Seeing the involvment and comments on Magiverse warms my heart each and every time (:
      Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  6. I'm horrible at reviews!! Which is why I don't blog.
    I do try on occasion to leave a review, but I really struggle with it. I read to read. Most times I just like the book. I don't think about what I did or didn't like while reading it and usually, as soon as I finish one book, I'm on to the next one.
    I really admire all of you that can write reviews and the details, I'm just in awe!!

    1. I believe everyone has something to say after they finish a book. We think it has to be something long and profound like a book review. But it's enough to just declare: "I loved this book so much!" (:

      Me too. When I absolutely love a book and when a book just doesn't clik with me... I don't question it. I don't try to understand the 'why' behind it. I don't try to analyze it. It's simply how I feel. Which is why I'm not the type of reviewer that can analyze the book. And also probably why I can't bring myself to review every book I read. It's so hard to put your feelings into words that make any sense. And when I review a book, I want people to know *everything* about it (just like Esther in the comment above said (: ).

      So every time I'm able to bring myself to write a review I feel this sense of accomplishment. It's amazing. It's like a rush.
      Even if you think you can't review, sometimes all you need to do is try. The words just might come out naturally.
      And if not... saying "I loved this book so much!" is just as good :D

      Thank you, Thereasa! ^__^

  7. I did for a while but now there are lots of books I don't review, which takes off the pressure. And also, I have absolutely NO formula for writing reviews! I just post a few photos in between blurting out everything I loved/didn't love. Lol. Feeling like you have to review a certain way is guaranteed to get you into a slump.

    1. Exactly. The way to are reviewing now - freely and without worries - is the way I aspire to review in the future (:
      I think just making this post and seeing all those lovely comments took some of the pressure of my back ^^
      No formula, no rules. My kind of favorite combination ;)

      Thank you so much for your comment! :D

  8. Oooh, this is a great post! I review maybe 90% of the books I read, but that's generally because the stuff I read is relevant to my blog. I read non-fiction as well but I don't review them, because my blog is generally YA-focused.

    I'm sorry to hear that you've been feeling that pressure, though. I think it's very easy to compare yourself to other bloggers and think that what they're doing is what you should be doing (I've felt the same way), but that is just not the case. I like to think that blogging is first and foremost for yourself, so you should definitely prioritise you over anyone else.

    That being said, while reading isn't a job for me, blogging definitely kind of is. I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing, however - it does take a LOT of work, but it's fulfilling, and fulfilling work makes me happy. :P

    Reg @ She Latitude

    1. Why, thank you, Reg (:

      You review 90% of the books you read? That'a amazing!
      I get what you mean. My blog is... well, I will review the occasional NA book but my blog is mainly YA focused, too. What can I say, I love YA ;)

      You're very right. It's *so* easy to compare yourself to other bloggers, and this is bound to bring your mood and your blogging down. It's important to remind yourself why you opened your blog in the first place every now and then (:

      It makes sense.
      Blogging is very challenging but also so very much fun and fulfilling.
      I always feel this amazing sense of accomplishment whenever I publish a post.
      So... yes, I really get what you mean (:

      Thank you for your comment, Reg! And thanks for sharing your thoughts :D

  9. I totally get what you mean. When I first started off blogging, I noticed the same thing that people tend to review books so methodically. Which is obviously not a bad thing, since I WISH I had some of the structure and thought people put into everything they do. I tried dividing my book reviews in categories too: plot, characters and writing. Until I realized that I simply didn't have FUN while writing reviews. Now, I just write my reviews like I'm writing something to a friend. My thought processes while reading the book are put into the review. I'm having much more fun reviewing books like I do now.

    I also think that it definitely doesn't mean you're not a book blogger just because you don't review every single book. Some people have lots of thoughts on every single book, and some people have thoughts on just a percentage of what they read. I realize blogging can be stressful when you see so many people doing one thing and you don't have the desire to do that. Thank you for sharing this post; it was quite thought-provoking. Sorry for the rant. :P

    ~ Aimal @ Bookshelves & Paperbacks

    1. In the end, everyone needs to find the kind of blogging\reviewing style that works best for them.
      You can't push yoursle with a style that isn't the right fit for you or it will only make you feel worse.
      When you find your style, you just know (:

      Exactly so.
      You made me feel so much better just by those few sentences.
      I agree. For me, a book blog is when someone who is passionate about books makes posts about... well, books (:

      Ohh, thank you, Aimal! I'm so-so happy to hear this. When I make a discussion post, my motive is to make myself and others thing deeply on the matter. Hearing that I succeeded is the best of compliments ^^

      As a fellow ranter, I love reading other people rants! Seriously. I loved reading your comment. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts! :D

  10. Ugh, the pressure. I am not a fast reader anymore so I read like 1-2 books a week, if I'm lucky. I struggle to have enough books to review when it's my turn to blog but I decided recently that I'm gonna stop stressing about it and just try to have some other book related (or not) posts and discussions. I'm not a fan of social media so I don't have pressure on that front...

    1. I think 1-2 books a week is great!
      After all, reading *too* fast can also be a problem '^^
      Not to mention, putting pressure on yourself to review books is also bound to make your reading life suffer.
      I think you'll find out you read more and enjoy reading more when you don't pressure yourself anymore (:

      Other book related posts - discussions and book tags - are great! And I believe they're also very important and simply so much fun to do.

      Ah, so you don't have the social media pressure ;)

      Thank you for commenting and sharing your thoughts, Nereyda! ^__^

  11. I can't even express how much I relate to this post! Reviews are definitely my weakest point when it comes to blogging which is ironic because when I first started I'd thought they'd be the easiest, haha. I really struggle with writing them because I can never seem to get my thoughts to make actual sense. I'm a really slow reader too so that doesn't help! I definitely feel pressured to review more especially when I see some people review daily or a few times a week ect.

    I also review the same way you do! When I see people do review breakdowns with like .25 scores for all different subcategories I feel like I'm not being "professional" enough. I'm definitely trying to tell myself that there's no right or wrong way to review because I blog/read to have fun and I definitely don't want it to become a job.

    Brilliant post, Zoey!!

    1. I know right? Seeing people reviewing and posting in general on their blog ALL THE TIME is terrifying for those of us who can't keep up.
      I mean, I love-love-love writing posts, but I'm also a human being... which means I also need breaks here and there, so there might be a few days when I won't blog about anything new, or a few days when all I want to do is read. Or maybe not do anything - because we all have those days, don't we?
      Sometimes I think those bloggers who review daily or a few times a week are some combination of human and machine '^^

      Exactly! All you need to worry about when you review a book is how to express your feelings about it, and not wondering if you are reviewing wrong. You can't review wrong. You can only review like yourself. And there is absolutely nothing wrong about it (:

      Aw, thank you kindly, Lauren <3 :D

  12. I completely agree with you, sometimes it's just difficult to put into words your sentiments about a book that you've just read. There's also an extreme amount of guilt that comes with doing so ( especially with arcs). Thanks for writing up this discussion post! It's been really beneficial for me to read!

    1. Thank you so much, Victoria!
      I'm so happy to hear my little discussion post was beneficial to
      someone (':
      And thanks for sharing your thoughts on this discussion. I totally agree with you back. Though I don't know about ARCs because I still haven't had the plessure of getting one myself ;)
      Sounds like both a blessing and a curse. More of a blessing though,
      no? (:

  13. I completely agree with you, Zoe. Its impossible not to feel pressure when bloggers around you are prolific, creating amazing content with a unique voice. You worry about reading the newest or most popular releases, become ARC obsessed while the books that you actually want to read are abandoned.­čśö

    Its better to write in a way that feels natural and comfortable to you, I follow some reviewers just because their writing style stands out and appeals to me.

    I find it easy to review a book I loved but am clueless about the average ones ­čśĘ

    1. I get what you mean.
      I tend to review only books I feel strongly about - like absolutely loved or really didn't. The average ones are the most difficult and frustrating to write.

      ARC obsessed. So true :')
      I think I've started to calm down a little from my frenzy over ARCs, reading the "hottest" books and reviewing like crazy. And I'm glad for it, because it took so much of the pressure away.
      My trick was to repeatedly tell myself "you don't have to review this book, you don't have to review this book" until my brain finally understood the message.

      I agree.
      Everyone had a unique voice, but it doesn't show at the very first review. Not on the next one or the one after that either. Just like learning to read, you need to write more and more in order to find what works best for you. The most important thing is not pushing yourself too far in the process.
      You should have seen my reviews from 2 years ago... *so embarrassing*.

      Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on this discussion, Lakshmi!
      I loved reading your comment (: