Book Reviews vs. Posts About Bookish Bits & Bobs

I was having a nice coffee with a lovely friend today who really doesn’t get the whole book blogging thing and has often rather bemused and amused by the fact that one of her closest friends is so very into it. Chatting with her has given me enough food for thought for a blog post which I am going to let sit with me and conjure up next week. However in the mean time there was one thing she said, which I will surmise as best as my memory will allow, which is something I have occasionally pondered (not with other blogs – just my own) which in its full glory sounded something like this…

“The thing is shouldn’t a book blog just be your thoughts or reviews on a certain book. I mean I looked at yours once and you were explaining what books had been sent to you, what books you weren’t sure if you should read, which book shop you’d spent ages perusing and also what you’d been up to of late which had no bookish value at all. I mean apart from reading about someone’s thoughts on books is the other stuff actually relevant or are you over sharing?”

So I thought I would do a mini post, which is sort of book related – oops she will be furious ha, quickly asking for your thoughts. Do you read a book blog just for the book reviews/book thoughts or do you want to know more about the blogger’s book addiction and their life. Would you stop reading a book blog if the reviews were drying up and only the ‘sort of bookish bits’ were appearing instead, or do you like a bit of both? Can we bloggers occasionally over share?

There’s no right or wrong answer, in fact I haven’t made up my own mind on what my own response is to this quite yet, I just thought I would put it out there. And don’t be mean about the original question, not that you would, as it wasn’t meant meanly. I would love to hear from fellow bloggers and followers of blogs alike. Simply let me know what your thoughts are and whatever your response/personal preference is let me know the why. It’ll be interesting to see what the results may show…

31 Comments

Filed under Book Thoughts

31 responses to “Book Reviews vs. Posts About Bookish Bits & Bobs

  1. Jen

    I enjoy hearing about your life! Otherwise, I could just log onto Amazon.com and read reviews.

    =)

  2. I can see your friend’s point from a newcomer’s perspective, but the reason why it never feels like oversharing to me, and why I’m never bored by “off-topic” posts, is because over time I grow to care about the blogger as a person. I’m not only interested in their bookish musings, but on who they are as people – and this happens both in blogs where I’m more interactive and develop a relationship with the person, and in those where I’m shier and more of a lurker. I grow to care about the people behind all the blogs I read, and so I’m always interested in reading about what’s going on in their lives.

  3. I don’t like book blogs that are just book reviews. How can you trust a person’s opinion unless you understand who they are as a person?

    I love getting to know people through their blogs, and getting a glimpse into lives that are often very different to mine. It gives me inspiration for my own life, and I also enjoy the sense of community and friendship that develops out of experiencing someone’s life alongside them. All blogs are like published diaries, in a way, and we often feel freer to speak our minds and talk about things we wouldn’t necessarily do with ‘real life’ friends – that’s the joy of blogging, and that’s what I love reading about, alongside book thoughts and reviews. Not just boring banal book reviews with no personality behind them. As Jen said, you can just read amazon reviews if that’s all you want from a blog.

  4. I like a mix of posts simon ,but hate it when you see blogs with all meme and little posts and no reviews ,I hope I hit a happy mix ,all the best stu

  5. Bet

    I can simply say, “ditto” to the thoughts of the previous posters. I start reading a book blog because of the reviews and recommendations, but I KEEP reading it if I enjoy the writing style, the mix of book review and life review, and of course, if I keep getting good ideas for good reads from it. The latest favorite read I’ve gotten from you (and also from dovegreyreader) is The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. For some reason, even though it is written by an American and was probably published here first, I had never heard of it. I am sooooo enjoying it and it is not just an aborbing read, but a thought-provoking one, too. Thanks, Simon!

  6. I have a blog (www.silverseason.wordpress.com) and I write on my own time. No one assigns me anything to write and no one pays me to write it. If I can’t write about what interests me, what’s the point? Nine times out of ten I do write about books. It is a form of self expression to which I don’t want to set strict limits.

    Last winter we had a wet snowfall. I went out early in the morning and took pictures. To remember that moment of calm beauty I wrote about it and posted the pictures. (http://silverseason.wordpress.com/2010/02/27/heavy-wet-snow-in-connecticut/)Then back to books.

  7. Ditto the above. I get bored of constant book reviews, particularly if it’s something I may or may not read. I enjoy good reviews on books that would likely interest me otherwise. It’s the other book bits, though, bringing me back.

    This week I wrote about the Texas Book Festival and more people read those posts than any other I’ve posted in the last month. Obviously there is value in that as well.

    I love how conscientious you are about your blog and blogging in general.

  8. I think your friend does not understand that book bloggers are real, real people and true the book reviews are lovely and its indepth and serious and all that but to get non book blogging bits is also really nice. Its sort of rounded out and finished if you know what I mean. I think you will understand. Please just continue the way you do.

  9. I like hearing about the books people read and also it’s good to get snippets of the person’s life as well. It’s as if you get to know the person too. As long as most of the things that bloggers share are somehow connected with books or reading(they are writing for a book blog after all), then I will read their blogs even if they don’t always have book reviews on them.

  10. I say go with the flow, write reviews or write bookish posts. Those who are interested will read it. Those who are not interested won’t. It’s all very subjective.

  11. Both as a blogger and a blog-reader, I am wholly behind a mix of reviews and bookish non-review posts. And non-bookish things thrown in too! As a blogger, I just don’t have the energy or inspiration to write a review every day – plus I don’t finish a book everyday, so I wouldn’t be able to! Plus, the non-review posts are often the most collaborative with readers, provoking much more response and interesting feedback.

    As a blog reader, I love hearing about bloggers’ lives, and especially general thoughts on books, or lists of books they might read, or photos of bookshops they love etc. etc. because I know these will always be interesting and relevant to me. Lots of reviews are great, of course, but there will be a lot about books I have no intention of reading – of course there will, we all read different things. More general book posts will always be relevant – and often fun and thought provoking.

    So, as usual, the middle path is the best way!

  12. I love the non-book review posts just as much (and sometimes more!) than just straight reviews. I don’t think blogging is just about reviewing, I think it is more about conversing with each other in our own way about things on our mind that might in some way be related to books 🙂

  13. I enjoy the post about bits of a blogger’s life, their families and community, their other interests just as much as the bits about books.

  14. Ahh, a bit of to be or not to be, no? Like many others commenting here, I enjoy a book blog about bookish lives. Those lives and their stories are not always about books and that is fine with me. If I just want a review, there are places for that. In the end, the blog is yours and you can say what you want in it.
    Reading a book post that is more than just a review of a book takes me into a bookstore of sorts. There are books, of course, as I drink my coffee or tea all snug at home, and people to talk to, like I am doing now, and ideas and stories and insights into other places and other countries. I am often reminded of something I meant to read sooner or something I read so long ago or something I never knew about.
    Any given blog is not for everyone and perhaps not for your friend in question.
    I hope you keep posting as you have been doing.

  15. In order to understand the thoughts of a reviewer you kind of have to know a little bit about that person. Therefore, sharing other information that are also book related but are not necessarily book reviews helps a lot to understand why a certain person likes certain thinks and why not. When I read a book blog and think that the person is in some way comparable to myself, I trust the reviews much more! Of course, the core part of the blog should be the reviews but posting different things once in a while is important, too!

    I do that on my blog as well and had the same thoughts as well but came to the conclusion that a book blog is not only about reviews but about everything that is related to books, isn’t it?

    http://booksaroundtheworld.wordpress.com/

  16. I like a mix of both – as someone previous has mentioned. How can you trust a review if you do not have some sort of insight into them as a person.

    What I do dislike, is blogs full of meme’s – and no reviews or thoughts on anything else. I try and keep to one a week but even then I do not committ myself if I do not want to do it. They are a good way to get your blog out there and read by a few more people so I do understand the logice behind them.

  17. Definitely got to be a mixture. Using your blog as the example I love your book reviews however it is actually your bookish bits and bobs kind of posts that get me actively thinking and commenting. There is no point having just book reviews and no discussions created which if other people haven’t read the book can happen.

  18. Ditto to the thoughts above about a balance and not really being that excited about memes too often. I really like the personal posts, especially the ones that describe book related trips.

  19. I think only one or the other could get boring, because I think reviews are expected (not just life posts etc) and on the other hand if you only review there isn’t a good mix of things to comment on. And it is nice to know about the person behind the blog, often that’s where the longest comments are going to be because unless a lot of people have heard of the book being reviewed you’re not going to be able to get many discussions going there.

    Seeing people mention memes, they are something I’m not keen on either. A feature specific to the blog, yes perhaps, but most memes I find very dull.

  20. Rhian

    Another vote for a mixture. Getting a feel for the blogger as a person makes reviews more meaningful; if I don’t know you, I can’t tell whether I likely to enjoy what you enjoy. And I love reading about bookshops I haven’t visited, or how people organise their books (people have a system?! Wow!)

    I want book reviews but I find that the blogs I read most are those with a life as well as reviews.

  21. I love a bit of both too. Of course I like reading reviews so that I can add to my ever expanding list, but I also like to know why someone chose the book to read as we all have very different ideas about what to read, when to read and why we read. My choices are very different from my friends’ and it has a lot to do with my interests, personality and how I’m feeling at that moment so I like snooping into other people’s minds. I also like to compare my book buying/hoarding habits just to feel I’m not the only one!

    My mum recently started reading my blog and she was giving me advice on how to make it less serious (I actually thought my blog wasn’t serious enough!) So there’s no pleasing everyone!

  22. What drew me to book blogging, and reading blogs, in the first place, was that it was a way to share my love of books. That means that it’s a conversation, and that’s something you can’t easily have if all you know about a person is their comments on a particular book. I just realised that my own blog is mostly reviews, but I think I try to incorporate the personal element into each review – I can’t see the point in a quick plot summary and a “this is/isn’t well-written” kind of post, I could get that on Amazon, and I get bored with bloggers who just do that. So the blogs which attract me, and keep me reading, are those which have a mix of reviews and other book-ish stuff (don’t mind memes, as long as they are mostly about books!)

  23. Ti

    After a time, you want to get to know the blogger. The bookish bits are refreshing to me. I don’t consider it over-sharing at all. I actually get bored with straight review sites.

    The other thing to note to is that the bookish bits give voice to a blogger. When I read the more personal posts, it’s as if the blogger is sitting right next to me. Like an intimate chat.

  24. gaskella

    A good mixture of books, bookish chat, bookish people, and the odd diversion make much more interesting blogs to me. Although the initial attraction to a particular blog may be via what books are reviewed, if you like their style etc you do want to get to know the blogger better.

  25. Ditto on almost everything. I trust reviews more when I feel I know the person behind them. I feel like most of us don’t really write true reviews anyway but more of opinions. This makes it a more informal setting where we are free to take other tangents when the mood strikes. Also, we are “book blogs” not “book review blogs” which means that all of the other bits and bobs (bookstores, book parcels and the like) are all fair game. Maybe we should be called reader blogs or book lover blogs instead.

  26. I also like a nice mix of things (as you have here). The bit of over-sharing that does not work for me is when those personal sharing posts all begin to sound the same. Or when you notice that a particular blog has not published a review or content post in over a month but has still been posting regularly. When things go beyond too much filler to all filler. But I really do enjoy personal touches. One of my favorites this year was when Ti posted that meme with her personal info. Some of the best answers ever! Unedited and real, I felt like I was meeting a new person and not just a blogging “personality.”

  27. Simon – I’ll read anything book-related that you have to offer, and stuff about your Grandma! I love your relationship! Seriously, I avidly consume all you have to offer here. Don’t make it all about book reviews.

  28. I’m not just interested in books, and so don’t just want to read about books. I like blogs which feel like they have a genuine personality behind them – which Savidge reads does:)

  29. novelinsights

    If it is all reviews, you might as well just read the newspaper.

    If there are very few reviews then it’s all ‘me me me’.

    As with everything in life, I think that it’s about balance.

  30. Thanks for all your feedback on this one guys, I will actually be following this post up further tomorrow. Its much later than I meant to but hopefully you will all add to that too.

  31. Pingback: Book Blogs… Why? « Savidge Reads

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