Thoughts #44: How Do You Review Books?


This post is aimed at my book blogger and reviewer readers – I want to discuss how I review books, and see whether others use a similar method or something completely different.

Firstly, how do you choose which books to review?

For me, I tend to review purely those books that I have specifically for review – from Netgalley, Edelweiss or the publisher. Occasionally, I’ll read a book of my own or from the library and decide to review it – but generally only if I have particularly strong feelings, whether negative or positive. That only tends to apply if I feel I have to say something about that particular book.

Secondly, what is your reviewing process?

I have a review notebook in which I make notes as I read. Sometimes I don’t like this method as I hate having to feel like I can’t just read and write stuff down later, and I hate breaking up my reading by making notes. But otherwise I’m worried that I’ll forget what I want to say about the book, and then have nothing to put in the review. This means that often I won’t read books for review whilst travelling etc, as I don’t tend to carry the notebook around with me. There have, however, been a few books that I’ve read so quickly that I didn’t feel the need to write anything down during reading, and just noted it all down after.

I have, since originally writing this post, tried writing reviews without a notebook, and I actually managed to write a review that I’m quite possibly the happiest I’ve been with for a while. Definitely trying without more often!

Finally, how do you write up your review?

I like to fill in all the information on the blog post first, like author, title etc, apply the tags – and then once that is done, I get down to writing the review. Sometimes review writing can be a laborious process, so if I get all the other stuff out of the way first then it feels like I’m on a productive streak. It doesn’t always work though… Anyway, I try to formulate my notes into paragraphs and bulk them out with other things I can think of.

Sometimes, I find it really difficult to write a review. Sometimes a book just doesn’t really make me feel anything, and I can’t think of many particularly positive or negative things to say about it. I find that frustrating, because I want my reviews to be as detailed and as helpful as possible – but at least I’m still being honest that way. And other times, I feel like I’ll need to resort to the Ron Swanson Method, as shown below.

How do you review books? Do you ever find writing a review to be difficult?

ron swanson gif


20 thoughts on “Thoughts #44: How Do You Review Books?”

  1. Your process is very similar to mine. I always take notes when reading a physical book, although it is tedious! But I can’t remember details if I don’t. That’s one reason I like ebooks, it’s so easy to highlight stuff. I always write my reviews in a word doc and paste them into the blog post. And I always do my own quick recap of the story rather than paste the Goodreads recap. It takes me at least an hour or more to write a review, it’s hard!

    1. Yes, that’s the problem. Unless the book is particularly memorable – in a good or bad way – then I really need those notes. That is definitely an advantage of ebooks!

      I’m really bad at writing recaps so I just use the GR one… I do take out any praise etc that is in the blurb though. I’m impressed that you write your own 😀

  2. I have never made notes while reading and on occasion, if I leave reviewing too long, I have completely forgotten what I was thinking ! I think the idea of a notebook is a good one – I may well try it.

  3. I probably review about 90% of the books I read, and while I don’t take notes while reading, I find that if I jot down some notes in a post draft immediately after finishing a book, my review writing process is a lot easier. The longer I wait to write a review, the harder it is for me.

  4. If I’m planning to review the book, I also love to write notes down in my notebook 🙂 Sometimes I decide to read a book for myself alone, because yes, sometimes I don’t like to break off reading to write things down. Hahaha, that last GIF is definitely how I feel every now and then.

      1. Only if I haven’t finished it – maybe one book in twenty – but I always let the publisher know that it wasn’t for me. I don’t rate if I haven’t finished it.

  5. I definitely wish I would take notes more often. Whenever I do, I find it a lot easier to remember all my feelings when I’m writing my review. The problem is I’m lazy and don’t ever feel like getting up and finding my notebook. Some reviews I find really hard to write… usually ones where I don’t have a lot of feelings for either way. Or like you said, ones that you feel you can’t say things because the whole book is full of spoilery things. I love reading reviews for books that aren’t just about to come out or just released. Honestly I get bored when my blog feed is full of ALL the same books…. so if you ever read an older book and feel the urge to review it, I’d be happy to read it 🙂

    1. Haha I know that feeling! Unless I specifically get the notebook first, by the time I’ve settled down with the book I don’t want to get up and grab it 😛

      Yep… sometimes I wonder if it’s even worth writing those reviews, and maybe I should just write them if I have strong feelings – although then I’d be writing a lot less reviews :/

      Well luckily with my wonderful Netgalley habits, a lot of the books I review from there tend to have already been out for a year or so… because I requested them and then just left them for ages 😛 But I was looking through my archives last night and it does seem I reviewed quite a few more ‘non-review copy’ books a while ago. Maybe I’ll try and do it again.

      1. I find NetGalley such a temptation – I have such a backlog. I can never decide whether to read and review the newest ones because they are most current or tackle the really old ones. And then I go and request some more ….

      2. Yes, it is such a problem! Lately I’ve been trying to get the most recent ones read, then finally get round to the older ones, as reviews of newer releases will be more useful, and I guess the longer I put off reviewing them, the less use my review will be!

  6. Interesting to see your process for reviewing books, Rinn! I basically try to review all the books that I read, and I rarely request books for review anymore. I don’t take notes as I read (which makes it difficult for me to write about books if I don’t write a review immediately after I finish reading, so that’s what I usually do!). Like you, I also prefer to fill in the basic info first to get it out of the way, and I agree that writing the actual review is sometimes a frustrating process… for me, particularly when I feel neutral about a book!

    1. I’m trying not to request anything for a long time, or at least avoid Netgalley. I seem to get to books so much more quickly when they’re physical copies. I’ve got my last 20-something percent on NG to conquer, as well as a pile of physical copies that built up whilst I was in Leiden.

      Seems we all have that issue with ‘neutral’ books!

  7. The books I choose to review are books that have caught my eye, books I want to share whether good or bad!

    My review process is very simple, I’ll read the book and the next day I will review it, I don’t do any notes (mainly because I can never usually make out my handwriting!) and go from memory, and just type down everything that comes to mind about the book and then I go back and make sure it makes sense!

    1. I kind of want to write more negative reviews… Next time I read something I don’t like, I’ll post about it 😉

      Do you never have an issue if a book takes you a long time to read? Or do you tend to remember what you want to say anyway?

  8. I really would like to keep a notebook of notes, but I feel like sometimes it is inconvenient for me to write (when I’m in bed) or it just disrupts my reading. I think it would work well for books I have a lot of issues with, but not for books that I speed through because they are SO GOOD. I don’t know, I will have to try it out. But for now, I am updating my Goodreads statuses whenever I stop reading, but even then I don’t do it consistently. Which means I end up winging the review….hahah.

    At the end of each book, I write out bullet points (on GR) of what I thought about the book. That makes my review writing A LOT easier!

    1. It is quite disrupting. I really agree there, I’m trying to avoid the notebook now and I’ll see how it goes 😀 Maybe I should update GR with notes as well… I normally just add what page I’m on instead of general reactions to things.

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