Must I Review Every Book I Read?

That question isn’t meant to sound like I am on my knees the rain falling down and I am shouting it up to the heavens arms outstretched in a state of despair – just in case that is what you were picturing?

Forgive me for once again using and abusing you all as a sounding board, sometimes though it is the only way for me to get a set of thoughts out of my head. I have another conundrum, one that you think may only apply to fellow bloggers or people who keep book notebooks/diaries but actually you can all help me out here. I have been pondering as to whether or not I should review every book that I read?

You see not content with creating enough of a void in my life by dying and now not being on the end of the phone or a few hours away to see Gran has inadvertently also created what I am calling ‘The Gran Effect/The Gran Vortex’. (In the last two weeks I have read Kate Atkinson’s ‘Life After Life’, Lauren Beukes’ ‘The Shining Girls’ and James Smythe’s ‘The Explorer’ so excuse the sci-fi analogy but it has all gone to my head!) As I mentioned the other week, having looked after Gran and visited so much in the last year that she was sick and particularly in the last few months before she died I got a middling amount of reading done but really absolutely no/minimal reviewing done. This has created a strange state of affairs at Savidge Reads as I am oddly really behind in my reading yet way, way ahead in terms of books read in ratio to reviewed – which is all at odds with everything in the universe and just not right.

I have quite a pile, which I thought was 12 but is actually 14, of these ‘ready and ripe’ to review books now stick piled on my bookshelves and they look at me a little resentfully (books can give you looks don’t pretend they can’t). Each book has lots and lots of notes and page numbers for quotes on my computer and in varying notebooks so I know reviewing them won’t be the problem BUT, that said, I did work out if I sat down and finalised them all that would be the next 4.5 weeks of my blog done. We would be in mid October, which makes me wonder if the posts would feel a little out of date should I actually get my arse in gear and start commenting back to you all again – which will happen, it will, it will.

But how do I rectify this? I had thought about not reviewing all of them but then I felt like I would be letting some of them down. Then I started to make excuses like ‘well that one I was on the Green Carnation judging panel for and I shouldn’t really review books I judged there’ (yet I have done and also I re-read one of those books this year for something else) or ‘well I discussed the book on You Wrote The Book with the author or on The Readers Book Club’. Yet again that doesn’t ring quite right with me. The only books I really won’t review are the ones I either didn’t finish, because I don’t think you can really be allowed to comment if you didn’t finish it cover to cover personally, or I loathed so much people might never come back to the blog thinking what a Grade A knob I was with my outpourings of venom. I used to review everything when I started the blog though if you go back to the beginning you might think otherwise as these pieces were so rubbish I deleted most of them in a fit of embarrassment.

So I am wondering if stock piling is the answer? Could I write up all the reviews yet keep some stored away for if I ever fancy a month off yet seemingly still be here, or if there is an emergency and I can’t blog/have to take time out, or if I decide to read some mammoth books (which is looking rather likely) and so my output would be lower. I am growing to like this idea already. The other option is ‘round up’ posts but, unlike many a blogger I admire, I am pretty crap at those – as you will notice from my posts I find succinct quite difficult.

I guess what I really wanted to do is to ask what your thoughts are, but instead of just asking directly I have gone off on a whittling tangent and now you’ve read over 700 words of me waffling on. What do you think though? Or, if you are a blogger/reviewer/diary keeper, what do you do? As a reader of blogs do you want to hear about everything that a blogger has read, good bad and in between or just the highlights? Thanks in advance for your thoughts, I am now going to go and mull which book to review for tomorrow. Decisions, decisions!

25 Comments

Filed under Random Savidgeness

25 responses to “Must I Review Every Book I Read?

  1. I think I review about 1 in every 10 books I read. Various reasons: I read much faster than I write, some books I have absolutely nothing interesting to say about, (and I don’t want to be one of those “reviewers” who just writes an extended synopsis and then comments on whether the book was good or not), and some of the books I read just just aren’t critically yielding enough….
    T.

  2. mcresswell

    I’ve taken to only reviewing the books I loved, partly because I’m not back into the swing of reading and don’t blog as fast, and partly because I feel miserly writing negative reviews. Of course, this makes my blog read like a hyperbolic fit of excitement over every single book, but such is the price.

  3. I also don’t review a lot of the books that I read. I review in three places, actually: on GR, on amazon, and on my blog. My GR “reviews” will often be nothing more than a few quick lines, my amazon reviews tend to be more oriented toward newer fiction that I’ve read in an effort to provide a balanced review for prospective purchasers, and my blog posts are primarily about books that are part of my various reading “projects”. Even so, I probably only cover 50% of the books I read in any of these three locations.

  4. Using highlights from each book create a quilt of patches from each one and perhaps there will be threads of thoughts connecting them. Ha! It might work!

  5. As a reader I love to see reviews of as many books as possible. Fantastic and terrible books are always fun to read about, but I think some of the most interesting reviews are written about books that fall somewhere in the middle. As a blogger, though, I struggle with this too. I put all my reviews up on Goodreads but I tend to feel I should only put them on my blog if I feel they ‘deserve’ to be there – i.e. if they’re long, detailed and analytical, or if they’re about a book I really loved.

  6. How about reviewing the ones where you have something you really want to share? Can’t be all of them?

  7. Thanks to a very busy summer, I have a backlog of about 20 unreviewed books. I’ve decided that I’ll spend no more time on the meh books. The excellent will be reviewed whenever I feel the urge as reviews never go out-of-date. Am undecided about the one book I absolutely detested – I feel I could write the hatchet job of the year but should I?

  8. Three rules for me:

    Short reviews – some as little as one or two lines (I appreciate that you would find that difficult!😉

    Religiously draft the review as soon as I finish the book – this means that I always have a stash of reviews ‘good to go’ for my blog – I even have a couple for Christmas themed books sat there waiting for December; I always have a quick scan through before I hit ‘publish’ for any last minute changes to bring them up to date

    I keep an ‘abandoned books’ review open to simply add links, one liners and cover pics – every ten or so books it get published

  9. Kateg

    I am not a blogger so I am not be much help, but I think if you liked the book you should write about it. I have notebooks organized by author and write several lines about every book I read. Before I found Goodreads, Books on the Nightstand and you and Gav I searched for my own books to read. I started the notebooks so that I wouldn’t reread by accident ( I almost exclusively read literary fiction from the library, worked full time and had 2 small boys. I would grab a book or 2 and be disappointed when I got home and realized I had already read them). Now I put a couple of lines about my books on Goodreads although sometimes I get delayed a couple of weeks. I enjoy your reviews and maybe you could pick and choose the titles you feel most strongly about and then roll out those reviews over the next couple of months.

  10. I try not to cut myself up if I miss a couple of books in reviews – I invariably read much more than I review. Occasionally I’ll do a summary post of what I’ve been reading with a few sentences about my thoughts on it to assuage the guilt. Save the detailed reviews for the books that really moved you, the ones you would enjoy writing about – life is too short for anything else!

  11. I’ve recently tried to kick the habit of finishing every book I start, so I’m reading only what interests me most (I follow the 10% rule — that’s how much of the page count the author has to hook me). I don’t have to love the book, but it has to offer something to other potential readers. For example, I thought The People in the Trees was incredibly disturbing, but combined with the amazing writing, it made for an interesting post.

    My reviews are relatively brief, and I try to write them as I finish the books; if I already have posts scheduled for the week, I schedule the review for the next week. This practice also gives me a buffer of posts in case I’m reading something very long. I’m the at-home parent of a toddler, so I need to be selective about my reading or reviewing. Hence, never a “meh” review, though I appreciate those who take the time to post those as advance warnings for the rest of us!

    So, in brief, I do review everything I read, but if I were a professional reader, or as prolific as you are, I wouldn’t feel the need to do so.

  12. I definitely don’t blog about everything read and that started this year. Some things I read just don’t inspire me to write about them or I find them difficult to write about. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. A bit of good and bad are good in a blog. It keeps things authentic.😉

  13. Paul

    I’m coming at this as a reader and listener, rather than blogger. I never even considered that some bloggers were reviewing every single book they read. To me, that seems like a daunting pace. I especially like rave reviews or thoughtful criticism but I usually skim through the rip jobs, unless they’re completely unexpected or about something I planned to read.

  14. Well – depends how OCD you are, I suppose, and how much you want your blog to be a record of what you read. I try to review the books I read in sequence, but occasionally have to do a short catch-up post. Since your blog is very much yours, maybe if you don’t want to write about them all, restrict it to just the ones you want to tell your readers about??

  15. If there’s no obligation and little inclination, it seems clear, list them all so we know what you’ve read but only review those that you feel you really want to. It’s a natural progression of your talent and Tom’s got a good point.

  16. Ann Fuller

    Stockpile and write reviews to use if you need time off – which you certainly do deserve.

  17. Bet

    What Claire said. You are under no obligation whatsoever to review every book you read!

  18. Great post! I certainly don’t think you are obliged to review every book you read. I try to avoid accepting review copies of books I think I won’t like. However if something I’m expecting to like disappoints, I probably won’t review it, partly because I won’t want to waste more time on it, but also because I don’t like being negative about other people’s work – just because a book doesn’t appeal to me, doesn’t mean other people won’t like it. Having said that, if a book has caused great debate at my book group or sparked interest in other ways, I might write about it for that reason. I think it’s all down to how the reviewer feels and I think authors and publishers should respect that.

  19. You could just pick the ones that spoke to you for a full review, and do a catch up post on the rest (we do like to know what you’ve read, even if it doesn’t need a full review), but it’s really up to you! 🙂

  20. I don’t review everything I read — only things I think are interesting enough or that I have enough to say about. Don’t beat yourself up. A catch up post might be the answer since you’ve done so much work on it all so far!

  21. On http://litrefsreviews.blogspot.co.uk/ I do a write-up of all the lit books I read – mostly so I don’t forget I’ve read them. Sometimes I don’t say much more than “I gave up at p.37”, sometimes I try to write something more like a review (but that takes time). I think writing up everything keeps me honest, and helps with calibration, though its not a policy that necessarily attracts readers (I’ve about 600 posts; pageviews vary from 2127 to 14).

    I’ve about 10 write-ups stockpiled at the moment. Some of the books are decades old, so time’s not an issue. I know other people who have months of posts stockpiled. Seems a good idea to me.

  22. I got over the “I have to review every book I read” last year when I went into a blogging slump. I review maybe a third of the books I read. I read so much, that I’d have to spend just as much time blogging as reading if I reviewed everything I read…and I don’t want to do that.

    I think stockpiling is a fine idea. Or, if you feel the need to review everything, you could also do mini-reviews (maybe of the books you didn’t LOVE), and put three or four mini-reviews in one post. Or, you could just not review everything you read and be fine with that.🙂

  23. No pressure but I prefer to read about all the books someone has read. I myself write about all the books I read but compared to many bloggers I read quite a lot less so this is easier to do. I like your idea to write them all up and store some for a rainy day, so to speak🙂

  24. I wouldn’t worry about the reviews being “out of date”. It never hurts to have a handful of posts saved for a rainy day/week/month.

    I don’t review every book I read but that decision is based on whether I feel I have anything to say about it. I also do the occasional set of mini reviews where I want to say something, just not that much. But then my blogging is erratic at the best of times!

  25. Read what you want to and write about the ones that evoke a response that you wish to share with us. How can a review be “out of date”?? I have no desire to read about all of the books you have read (but nor do I mind in the lightest if that’s what you chose to present us with).

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