Booktrovert Reader Podcast

Struggles of Writing Book Reviews: Lets Discuss

November 30, 2023 Charity the Booktrovert Reader Season 2 Episode 38
Booktrovert Reader Podcast
Struggles of Writing Book Reviews: Lets Discuss
Booktrovert Reader Podcast
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Show Notes Transcript

Introduction:
Join us in this episode of Booktrovert Reader Podcast as I venture into the often-overlooked challenges behind crafting thoughtful and engaging book reviews. 

Episode Highlights:

  • The Art of Balancing Critique and Appreciation: Explore the delicate balance reviewers must strike between providing honest critique and acknowledging the author's efforts. Dive into the complexities of articulating opinions without disparaging the work.
  • Time Constraints and Reading Pressure: Uncover the challenge of managing reading schedules and deadlines while maintaining the quality of reviews. Discuss strategies for coping with the pressure to review promptly without compromising depth.
  • Subjectivity in Reviewing: Delve into the subjective nature of reviews and how personal preferences influence perceptions of a book. Navigate the fine line between objective analysis and subjective experiences.
  • Expressing Opinions Effectively: Analyze the difficulty in conveying opinions eloquently and constructively. Discover methods for articulating thoughts clearly while respecting diverse perspectives.
  • Handling Negative Reviews: Discuss the challenges of composing negative reviews and the impact they may have on authors. Explore ethical considerations and strategies for delivering criticism respectfully.

All Listen To:
Author Interview with Thea Guanzon: author of The Hurricane Wars

Struggles of Writing Blog Articles: READ HERE

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Struggles of Writing Books Reviews: Let’s Discuss

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 2s Hello readers. This is your host charity, your booktrovert reader podcast coming with you again with an interesting topic that I have personally been feeling a lot lately. And that is, you know, the struggles of writing book reviews. I have made it my goal to read about 200 books this year, and I thought, hey, you know, that's easy. I was able to do like 175, you know, let me push myself to write those book reviews. Well, I feel like that's almost a mistake to push myself to read that much. Oddly enough, I'm a firm believer not to push yourself too hard when it comes to reading, as a reader need to know what your boundaries are and what you can or cannot do. And I don't think there's anything wrong with reading a lot or just reading, you know, five books in a year. I personally, you know, think it's all on, you know, what you can personally do for me, I love to read. I can read quite a bit, but I'm also sometimes can only give about 15 30 minutes to read. So sometimes a book can take me about 2 or 3 weeks to finish, and I don't have a lot of time just to sit there for hours to read. I don't think I'm a slow reader, but I'm not necessarily a fast reader as well. So with that being said, 200 books means 200 book reviews. And I'm an overachiever. Not only do I have book reviews on, you know, good reads, I have it on Story Graph. I've been participating with Book Club lately, and I've been participating, you know, obviously with Instagram and things like that, and it's all fine and dandy until you have to do it over, over and over and over again for like 200 books. And I'm noticing that I'm kind of struggling a little bit just to have the desire to. Take the time to review a book, really, just to give it its 100% of my opinion and, you know, write out review as clearly and possible. And I just I'm naturally struggling just because the amount I have to do. And so I know for sure, for me, I'm probably going to reevaluate my book goal next year and then maybe find a process that might make it a little easier for me to write a book review. So I'm just giving it my 100% and not just a fraction of it, because I'm burned out. So some of the things that I come across when writing, you know, struggling with book reviews is some, you know, these points that I'm going to share with you. The first one I want to bring up is balancing subjectivity and objectivity. Striking the right balance between personal opinions and objective analysis can be challenging. Reviewers need to provide an honest assessment of the book while considering the different readers may have a variety of taste. Now, what I love about the book community, and sometimes it can frustrate me at the same time, is that I see like a average four star review and I absolutely do not like the book 1s could be used to a subject of different reasons, with me sometimes feeling the pressure of getting the cranking these books out, I do have to step back and just realize that my book taste might not be the majority of people's book taste. Now, I try to do my best to make sure I put, hey, this is what I liked about the book, and this is what kind of what I didn't like about the book. And it's very hard to struggle with that, because sometimes when you're just burned out and you're just, you felt like this book was just just not your thing. Sometimes when you're you're burned out, you just want to write a one page sentence saying how much it sucks. Let's just be real. But you do have to take the moment and just realize that you, if you were a reader and coming to across a review, you want to know why this book wasn't as good or wasn't good or, you know, or why was it so bad to that particular reviewer? I think that's always kind of been a struggle, just to make sure that you just you're just keeping the reader in perspective when you're kind of putting your opinion out there. Two. Avoiding spoilers. Reviewers must provide enough information to pique the reader's interest without giving away critical plot points or surprises. Finding the right level of detail without spoiling the reader experience can be tricky. Like this is actually a review that I've been thinking about lately that I need to still write. That I'm like all the things I don't like about it. It will totally spoil the book for the people who do, would want to read it and want to be surprised. So I've been kind of like debating, like how should I convey that the points of why I didn't like the book without spoiling the book? So that's always been kind of a hard one. I know some people just spoil the book without reason because they just didn't like it that much. And I'm just like, really? No. On a positive note, I did come across the book The Hurricane Wars. I really love that book. But the the twist in the story of what I love so much I couldn't talk about because if you talked about it, it was spoil it. You know how good the book is. So I kind of experienced that situation as well, just as an a positive note. So trying to express and write out without revealing details can sometimes be hard. There has been times where I picked up a, you know, looked at a book review and kind of figured out what was happening in the book just because they hinted at what was happening and was like, okay, now I know. So that could happen. Three Managing expectations. Sometimes the reviewer expectations for a book can affect their judgment. If a highly anticipated book doesn't meet those expectations, it can be challenging to write an unbiased review. Oh my gosh, yes. So I have recently come across that they were comparing this book to my favorite movie of all time, and to another movie or book that was recently released in a very popular book, and this is a very big trend right now, is to compare books to what your book is about, and which is fine because, you know, you kind of get an idea of what, what your tastes are. So if you kind of like that book, then you'll like this one. But the problem with that is that I was such a big fan of this particular movie, and they compared it to it and I'm like. There is no correlation to that. Like what I mean. Yeah. My expectation was that particular movie had something going on and I and I wanted it to be like that and it didn't deliver. And I was really disappointed in that book just because of that fact. So now I'm left with writing a book review because I'm like, well, you said X, Y, and Z and you didn't deliver on the X, Y, and Z, so I couldn't enjoy the story because X, Y, and Z was delivered the way you said it was. So yeah, I don't, I don't know about I can sometimes have too much expectations when coming to read the book, but I really analyze the synopsis and things like that before I go into a book. That's how I go into it. And if it doesn't deliver what what I'm being interpreted to about, then I'm not going to enjoy it as much. I know that sometimes people can read other people's reviews as well. They didn't like the book as the other people have said. It was just as good and it wasn't delivered in expectation. So. So yeah, writing a book review based off of your disappointed expectations can be very hard. And I've been going I've been like, so let down on this one recently that I just like, I don't know how to write the review without sounding a little spiteful and showing my disappointment that the story wasn't delivered the way I was told it was going to. Even book reviewers were kind of like talking about, oh, it's like this and this, and if you really love this, you should do this. And I'm like, no, it's it was like my highly anticipated read and it just let me down. So yeah, that's what I've been kind of struggling with is that that unmanaged expectations for time constraints. Reviewers often have deadlines to meet, and reading and analyzing book thoroughly within a limited time frame can be stressful, especially for books that require deep, deeper consideration. Yeah, I try if I got an aunt from NetGalley or something like that, I for sure try to read the book. Well before its deadline, so I have time to read it, time to look over it, write my review, and get it submitted to the right places. Recently on my podcast, I did make a change on my podcast in the past. Like an author comes to me say, hey, I would love to be on your podcast, can you can submit you my book and we'll schedule a meeting. So okay, so I scheduled the recording with them and they'll schedule it two days from when I get the book. And I only have two days to read the book. And since I'm not an incredibly fast reader, I would only get 15 to 25% of the book before I can even, you know, finish it and give them, you know, really talk to them about their book. So I recently have scheduled that if they were scheduling an interview with me, it's got to be one week from the day that they're scheduling from. So I have plenty of time to read the book and to understand it and review it properly, because I was just rushing and cramming it in and I wasn't taking it in. So yeah, time constraints can be a very tedious thing when it comes to book reviewing, especially if if you're like a natural procrastinator. I used to be waiting till the last week to finally read a book, and I stopped doing that just for that reason, that I was just cramming that book and it wasn't really taking it in fully. Time constraints can be a tough one for reviewers and writing reviews, so another one is six. Finding unique angles. With so many book reviews available online, standing out can be a challenge. Reviewers often struggle to find unique perspectives or angles to make the reviews more engaging and informative. Yeah, I mean, like if you think about it, if you're reviewing Harry Potter the A Cornerstone and Roses or oh my gosh, Twilight. I've been reading Twilight recently. I'm like, what else can you say about the book that, you know, like 100 thousands of other people have written about it. So sometimes I just make a point of writing a few good sentences about it and just moving on with my life, because sometimes. Some of those books are not worth the struggle and the brainpower to write a lengthy review just to sound like you know what you're talking about. I mean, like, if you do have a unique perspective, go for it. I'm not going to stop you. But I know for me, sometimes I just stop putting my pressure, stop putting so much pressure on myself to come up with this, you know, beautiful review that has been told 500 million times. And I'm like, well, people have done it better than me. I might as well just get my $0.02, call it a day, and I'm good with that sometimes just because of the fact I'm like, look, you know, it's good. Here's why. Moving on. Seven review length. Striking the right length for review can be difficult. Some readers prefer concise reviews, while others appreciate more in-depth analysis. Reviewers need to cater to their target audience. Now, that's that's a very tough one. I'm not a very I'm not a very wordy person when it comes to my reviews. I'm very straight to the point. This is what I like. This is what I don't like. This is my opinion on the book and I have come across reviews where they have gists. They have these paragraphs of why they didn't like the book, the points of what they didn't like, and examples. And those are great. I don't personally have the patience to read those lengthy reviews. I know some people love them. They love those descriptions. They love knowing everything about what the person liked or didn't like. It's entertaining for me. I'm just like, no, I'm not going to strive for that. I'm very dead center. Let's get it over with. Kind of a person. I just I'm a cut and dry person sometimes, and but I have made it a kind of a personal rule for myself that I at least write 300 words per book review. There's I mean, if you go in my Goodreads, I would probably show you that I haven't done that for every single reviews. There's days that I'm just like, look, it's this book, read it, you'll enjoy it. Moving on. And I know that's not good, but I just try to make it at least 300 words. I just can't do more than that. I mean, if I have it in me, if the book is really good, I'll write more. But a lot of times 300, 300, 300 words is kind of my my minimum and my maximum. Sometimes just because I'm just I'm not a big, intense, let's write a book review kind of a person. I should get better about it. But this is where I'm at right now eight articulating thoughts clearly, expressing complex thoughts and emotions invoked by a book and a coherent and engaging manner can be a struggle. Reviewers need to find the right words to convey their feelings and analysis effectively. I struggle with this. I'm a very, you know, sometimes I struggle with emotion and that sounds really bad, but I just, I it's hard for me to convey how I feel on from my mind to the page. So there. Times where I'm just struggling to do that. What I normally have to do is that I have to kind of do these reviews when I'm really into it. I'm the most creative in the mornings, so that's when I do a lot of my reviews. The only way I can get the best reviews out of me. It's crazy, but sometimes I have just have to work in that time frame, or I just it's just going to be harder for me to do. Nine. Avoiding biases. Unconscious biases can sometimes influence a reviewer's opinion of a book. Staying aware of these biases. Striving for activity is a constant challenge. I mean, yeah, because if you think about it, reading is very subjective. Reading is based off of what you're going through in life, what you you know, how you feel. That day there was a particular book by Emily Henry, Happy Place. It's very popular book. Everyone loves that book. That was her best one that she's written. I mean, a lot of people did anyways, and I hated that book because of my personal situation I was going through at the time, family drama, things like that. And I felt like that Emily Henry wrote a book that, you know, there was no consequences to people's actions. They did what they did and it felt toxic. And I'm like, who does those kinds of things and say, that's okay. And I'm not saying she said it was okay, but it just that's how I read into it. And I got burned out on romance genre to this day, and I don't it's been like 3 or 4 months now that I'm still burned out on romance genre, because the reason I just got so angry at it. So it was hard to write a book review based off, in my personal opinion. You know, I did write that. I love the book and I liked it, but at the end it kind of made me mad. So it's hard to not write your a book review based on, you know, just the on the biases that you may have. Number ten readers reactions reviews can generate strong reactions from both authors and readers. Handling criticism, negative comments, and even praise gracefully can be emotionally taxing. Now, I did see a lot of booktubers. For example, they stopped doing star reviews because they felt like it was affecting a lot of their readers and whether they read the book or not. So they stopped doing that, which I found very surprising because I've seen in those comments where people like, oh, you didn't like that book? So glad I'm not going to pick up that book right now. And I'm like, yeah, but you could have gave the book a try. What if you liked it? I try to tread carefully when it comes to my book reviews, because I realize that my opinion can influence other people's opinions on their books, so I try to make sure I put the positive in first before I put in the negative. I don't always, but I do majority of the time, so it's like I treat readers reactions. Kind of an important. Forefront in my mind. I mean, I did one time receive one negative comment and it was on Goodreads, and they're like the person put like, how old are you? And then they put a frowny face and not the emoji, but the frowny face. It was one of the one of the books or middle grade books I've reviewed a while ago, and I like the book. It was entertaining, so I didn't have any problem with it. And I raved about it. And when I went to that person's profile, it was a ten year old going on people's comments and just kind of insulting them, like trolling people, a ten year old. And I'm just like, wow. At first, I mean, before I looked at that person profile, I thought I'd be like, man, you call me, you know, old for my age or what? I'm reading and everything, but it's just in reality, it is a ten year old trolling people at the same time, you know, you're going to get different opinions about what you do and what you read. And it's just it is what it is. It's just the the world we live in. The power of social media. 12 coping with Reviewer's Block. Just like the writer's block, reviewers block can occur, reviewers block can occur, and when a reviewer finds it difficult to put their thoughts into words or has trouble getting started on a review now, I think that's one has been the biggest one for me recently, just because of the fact that I have so many reviews. Just, you know, if you read like 2 or 3 books a week or like 18 books a month, it can get overwhelming to write the book reviews because suddenly enough you're thinking, oh, got another book done? Move it on to the next one, and you're not even processing the last book you read, you're just moving on to the next one. I have been dealing with that lately. I got, I think, backlogged about 6 to 8 books one time at one point where a lot of them has review to come, and I never got to that review. You know, it took me quite a while to finally write that review. And just and by the time I finally get to it, I can't remember what that book was about, what I liked about it, what I didn't like about it. So I think some of it is intentionally my fault for having a writer's block on it, but I'm noticing that I've just been dreading these reviews just because I feel like it takes a lot of energy to put your thoughts into words. And what is this book about and all this stuff. So I've been kind of dealing with that recently, you know, ten months into the, to the year. So I think going forward I will be changing it just to make sure I'm enjoying reading and not like dreading reading and reviewing. I find it very fun, but it can be a daunting task. So it's really up to me to solve my own problem. 13 maintaining consistency if a reviewer writes for multiple platforms or publications, maintaining consistent reviewing style and quality across different outlets can be demanding. Yeah, I mentioned this before. I have several social media platforms, you know, Goodreads and all that stuff. So a lot of times I just copy and paste a lot of my stuff to it. I just try to make sure they're all consistent and just so far, and it's been working well for me, not just stressing myself up, you know, with all this stuff and trying to keep up with the Joneses, I that's what I do and I, you know, it works for, for me. So that is all the points that I wanted to bring up with the struggles of writing book reviews. I'm hoping to shift some things, especially for next year, on how to maintain and do all these book reviews without like, burning out and not feel the pressure of like, you know, is this the perfect book review and all that fun stuff? So let me know if any of these relate to you, or love to talk to you about it. And just have fun reviewing and reading. Talk to you later, readers. 



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