Discussion: Struggling with Reviews

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I’ve been away from blogging for a little while, and at least partially because of my constant struggle to write what I deem to be adequate reviews. Does this sound familiar? You finish a book, and sit down to write a review, but you can’t think of anything to say. Maybe you beat your head against the wall, maybe you flip through the book again to see if anything comes to you, or maybe you just give up and don’t write anything. 

Here’s my process:

  1. Finish book, swim around in all the feels. Isn’t this glorious? Let’s just stay here forever, you and I, my little booky-wook.
  2. Jump on Goodreads, give it a snap judgment star rating. You’re welcome, book.
  3. Wait two weeks, so that you read at least a few more books that will muddle your memory of the book you need to review. Book cries a little.
  4. Get calendar reminder email that you need to post your review. Experience a bolt of fear normally reserved for seeing a spider in your bed. Book feels the residual shock and flips you the middle finger.
  5. Fire up the computer, crack knuckles, and enter all the book info. You’re on a roll! This is going to be a piece of cake! Book says it’s sorry and gives you a hug.
  6. Stare blankly at the screen, wondering where to start. The cursor blinks incessantly, and book just stares at you.
  7. Type a couple of lame sentences summarizing the plot. Hooray! We’re getting somewhere! 
  8. Decide you hate those sentences, since the plot is summarized already in the synopsis. Delete them and stare some more.
  9. Re-write the summary sentences, since people probably won’t read the synopsis anyway, or they already know what the book is about, in which case why would either of those groups of people want to read a review anyway? This is stupid. I hate you, book. Book sticks its tongue out at you.
  10. Think of the three nitpicky things you briefly thought of while reading the book and write those down, stringing it together with awkward transitions (making heavy use of headers), and getting frustrated with your stiff phrasing. Why can’t you loosen up already? It’s probably book’s fault. You give book the evil eye, and book collapses in a puddle of shame tears. 

And who wants that? Nobody, that’s who. Especially poor, sad book.

Of course if there was an easy answer for how to write reviews easily, there’d probably be an app for that. (And if I’m mistaken, and there is already an app for that, please point me to it immediately.) I realize that I have personal faults that directly contribute to some of the above teeth-gnashing and hand-wringing, like waiting too long before actually writing the review, and not taking notes. But I have a hard time taking notes while reading, and sometimes I like to let a book breathe after finishing, so I don’t jump to too many conclusions right away.

So what’s a girl to do?

Seriously. I’m asking.

Are notes and speedy reviews the only answers? What do you do when you struggle to write a review?

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12 thoughts on “Discussion: Struggling with Reviews

  1. I usually just decide not to write the review. Because that’s how I roll.

    If I have to write the review, then I usually try to frame it in terms of what I liked or how I felt after the book. And sometimes I end up with a short review I’m not proud of, but it’s done and I move onto the next book.

    • I feel the same way! Sitting down to write a review right away makes me feel like it’s more of an obligation. I want it to feel more organic than that, I guess.

  2. I go by how it made me feel. I have a terrible time with books like The Fault in Our Stars that everyone else has reviewed. Why review it? But then I took the time to read it and I’d like to share my thoughts. So I go by my feelings. How I felt, how it made me feel, how I related to it.

    Then other times, you just have to force it out or not do it at all. Sometimes it comes to that!

    • Very true. I like your emphasis on feelings. I think that’s a focus I should try – letting it be subjective instead of trying to make it harder on myself.

  3. Whenever possible, I try to write my reviews when I’m still “swimming in all the feels”. I’ll re-work it as necessary, as things pop up later or as my feelings change the longer I stew on it, but I find it’s much easier to write when it’s the most recent book in my head.

    When someone says they have several reviews to write, I cringe. I can’t do it! I guess I’m a monogamous review writer, haha

  4. What helps me when it comes time to write a review is note taking and highlighting. That’s why I prefer to read on my Kindle (or the Kindle app), so I can taken extensive notes, highlight passages, bookmark pages, and plus I can search within the ebook if I need to find something.

    Another thing that helps when it comes time to writing reviews is using Windows Live Writer. I can use my book review template, which makes writing reviews so much easier and it saves time. When possible, I will format a review ahead of time so that when it does come time to write my review, all I have to do is just add my thoughts.

    • Great point on setting up the template right away. It’s a lot easier to sit down and write a review if the busy work has already been done. It makes it more enjoyable!

  5. Ooh, yeah… last month I didn’t write a single review and now I have four bloody reviews to write. So, I’ve reverted back to writing my ‘good & bad’ bullet point book review posts. Which works fine with me since I’m struggling with strong content in general. I’ve never been much of a writer so WHY would I decided to do book reviews is beyond me. Oh wait, it’s because I LOVE to read.

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